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.
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.