Articles in the Journal of Chinese Military History, Vol. 2, No. 1

A couple of interesting article on an often forgotten aspect of the Second World War have appeared in the most recent edition of the Journal of Chinese Military History.

Sherman Xiaogang Lai, ‘A War Within a War: The Road to the New Fourth Army Incident in January 1941′

The New Fourth Army (N4A) Incident is the name given to the destruction by the Chinese Nationalist government of the headquarters of the N4A, one of the two legal armies under the command of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the Sino-Japanese War, in southern Anhui province in January 1941, together with the killing of about nine thousand CCP soldiers. It was the largest and the last armed conflict between the Nationalists and the CCP during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). This article argues that this tragedy came from Joseph Stalin’s paranoia toward the West and Mao’s resulting limited pre-emptive offensives against the Nationalist government, as well as their misreading of Chiang Kai-shek during 1939-1940.

Li Chen, ‘The Chinese Army in the First Burma Campaign’

The article analyzes the performance of the Chinese Nationalist army in the First Burma Campaign in 1942. This combat demonstrated new challenges that faced the Chinese army. After more than four years of fighting, a weakened Chinese army struggled to open a new front in the remote southwestern border area and Burma. The Chinese forces deployed in Burma included some of the best Chinese divisions, but the rest were ordinary or even weak formations. Hence their performance in Burma was no better than those back in China. Their doctrine of defense in depth (and their tactics) did not suit warfare in Burma. Although they succeeded in defending Toungoo for ten days, in other engagements the Chinese units failed to halt the Japanese. They suffered further losses during the retreat since they were not familiar with jungle warfare. In addition, the Chinese troops did not handle their relations with the British forces and local Burmese population well. These failures contributed to the collapse of the front.

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2 responses to “Articles in the Journal of Chinese Military History, Vol. 2, No. 1

  1. Interestingly, when working at the FCO in 2007 I was asked by our Embassy in Beijing to assist the daughter of a Nationalist General who died of wounds in this campaign; my part was to try and find references to him in UK archives. At first I was quite surprised that they would permit this (perhaps the fact that she was a member of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party helped), but did my best. Although he had a good reputation – it looks like not surviving the campaign helped (no connection to the civil war) but some delicacy was needed as Alexander had nothing good to say about the Chinese in his report on his return from the Far East. When in China later in the year, could not but help noticing popular TV dramas were being shown where Nationalist Generals were portrayed in a positive light.

  2. An interesting perspective. I think sometimes we assume that there is too much bias in the historiography of regimes that we do not fully understand. There is clearly an element of this going on, one only has to look at the various editions of Zhukov’s autobiography, but it also balanced by some willingness to engage in scholarship. Perhaps the current Chinese experience is indicative of it opening up to the west over the past few decades.

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