Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression

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Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japan [File photo].

The anti-Fascist war between the 1930s and 1940s was the first just war of a global scale in human history. It ended in the Axis' unconditional surrender in 1945, 60 years ago. Over 2 billion people in Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania (exceeding four-fifths of the world population at that time) were involved in the war. People who had experienced that unheard-of calamity will never forget those days when flames of battle raged everywhere.

China was the first country to fight the Fascist aggressor, experiencing the longest period of struggle, and suffering great sacrifices and heavy losses. An important part of the international anti-Fascist war, the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (抗日战争) was closely bound up with it.

People will never forget August 15, 1945, the date on which the Japanese government issued a note to the Allied countries, announcing its unconditional surrender. Japanese militarism, the No.2 war criminal in World War II, collapsed. The Chinese people won the final victory in the anti-Japanese national liberation war through their bitter struggles.

China's War of Resistance Against Japan was a righteous struggle against a war of aggression provoked by Japanese militarists against the will of the Japanese people. As for the Chinese, it was an anti-aggression war to defend state sovereignty and vindicate national honor.

The War of Resistance Against Japan was a turning point in modern Chinese history. It ended the divided situation in which China found itself since the Opium War of 1840. It aroused the Chinese people, filled them with a common hatred against the enemy, and enhanced their traditional national spirit as never before.

The War of Resistance Against Japan was not merely a struggle between the Chinese people and the Japanese militarists or merely a local war between China and Japan. Viewed from the general situation of the international anti-Fascist struggle, China's War of Resistance Against Japan was an important part of the war against aggression waged by people throughout the world, and the China theater was a major theater of decisive importance to World War II. China's War of Resistance strongly supported the anti-Fascist struggle in the European and Pacific theaters, disrupted the overall plan of the Japanese imperialists who attempted to dominate the world, thwarted Japan's "northern march" plot to invade the Soviet Union, and delayed its "southern march" schedule for unleashing the Pacific war. More important still, the Chinese people through great sacrifices pinned down Japan's million troops on the Chinese battlefront so that it could not enhance its military forces in the Far East and the Pacific Ocean. As a result, it greatly reduced the pressure on the Allied forces. When the Pacific war broke out, Japan's military strength totaled 2.1 million soldiers, of which 1.4 million were sent to the Chinese theater. At this time less than 400,000 Japanese soldiers were fighting on the several million-square-kilometer Pacific battlefield. Thus, 67 percent of the total Japanese military strength was tied up in China during the most dangerous period of the Pacific war. In other words, the Japanese military force that China (one nation) resisted trebled what more than 10 nations headed by the United States resisted. The leaders of the Allies knew this well. Franklin D. Roosevelt, then US President, once commented that without China, or if China had been defeated, many more Japanese divisions would have been deployed to other areas and they would have been able to occupy Australia] and India immediately without any trouble, and then push to the Middle East.

In the spring of 1942, the United States proposed to establish a China War Zone, and invited Chiang Kai-shek to be the supreme commander. The China War Zone consisted of the China proper, as well as Viet Nam, Thailand, Burma (now Myanmar), etc., a clear indication that the Allies relied heavily on China. Because of this, on New Year's Day, 1942, the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union united with China, and issued the United Nations Declaration. Thus, China became one of the four major anti-Fascist powers. In December 1943, China, Britain and the United States jointly issued the Cairo Declaration. It formulated the general principles of resistance against Japanese imperialists in the anti-Fascist struggle. The Potsdam Proclamation was also jointly issued by Chinese, American and British governments in July 1945, and won wholehearted support worldwide. (The Soviet Union entered into it in August.) It sounded the death knell for the international Fascist warmongers, at the same time becoming an official denunciation against the Japanese Fascists. China' prestige and influence not only frightened the Japanese warlords, but also won for it the respect of all those people who wanted to free themselves from under the iron heel of the Fascists.

The War in Brief


September 18
Japanese troops provocatively destroyed a section of railway in north Shenyang and attacked the Chinese garrison at Beidaying, Shenyang, on the same night, this led to the "September 18th incident."

September 19
In the morning, the Japanese army occupied Shenyang. Because the Kuomintang government ordered "nonresistance," the Japanese forces occupied major cities and towns in Liaoning Province in few days.

September 23
Chiang Kai-shek gave a speech in which he went so far as to order the army and the people to "take the rough with the smooth and wait for the judgment of the League of Nations."


January 23
Jinzhou fell. It took just over three months for the Japanese army to occupy Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaoning provinces in northeast China.

January 28
The Japanese army attacked Shanghai. The 19th Route army stationed in Shanghai rose in resistance.

March 9
The "Manchoukuo" was set up under the aegis of the Japanese aggressors, with the abdicated emperor of the Qing Dynasty, Pu Yi, as the chief executive.


The Chinese army stationed along the Great Wall rose in resistance in Xifengkou, Gubeikou, and Lengkou in east Hebei Province.

May 31
Xiong Bing, the delegate of the Kuomintang government, signed the traitorous "Tanggu Agreement" with the commander-in-chief of the Japanese army, Yasuji Okamura. Chinese troops had to withdraw from the strategic passes along the Great Wall.


November 7
The First Army of the Northeast People's Revolutionary Army was set up, with Yang Jingyu as the commander.


June 9
Umezu Yoshijiro, the commander-in-chief of the Japanese forces in north China, raised three demands with He Yingqin, the acting chairman of the KMT Peiping Military Subcommittee, one being that the Chinese army should leave Hebei. On July 6, He Yingqin addressed a written reply to Umezu accepting all the unreasonable demands.

June 27
Qin Dechun, the delegate of the Kuomintang government, concluded through exchange of notes the "Qin-Toihara Agreement" with Japanese army chieftain Toihara Kenji. By that time, the Kuomintang had withdrawn from Hebei and Chahar provinces.

August 1
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China published a "Letter to the People of Resistance Against Japan and Salvation of the Nation." It appealed for an end to the civil war and the arming of the people to defeat the Japanese imperialists.

December 9 A patriotic student movement broke out in Peiping (now Beijing). The Kuomintang army and police suppressed the gathering of 2,000 to 3,000 students in the famous "December 9th Movement." Since December 10, students in large and medium cities and patriotic compatriots all over the country supported the students. On December 16, more than 10,000 Peiping students again hold a demonstration. More than 20,000 people participated in a citizens' meeting in which a resolution, "Oppose Japanese Imperialism's aggression against China," was passed. The "December 9th Movement" set off a new upsurge in the nationwide movement for resistance against Japan.


September 1 The CPC Central Committee issued a "Directive on Forcing Chiang Kai-shek to Resist the Japanese" to the whole Party.

September Japanese troops conducted war exercises in Fengtai in the suburbs of Peiping, for provocation purposes. A conflict with the Chinese troops then occurred. After that, the Japanese brought in reinforcements and occupied Fengtai in order to hold the key transportation lines between Peiping and Tianjin.

December 12 Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, the patriotic generals of the Kuomintang in Xi'an, detained Chiang Kai-shek, who was there making arrangements for an encirclement and suppression campaign against the Communists. They then forced him to resist the Japanese. This is historically known as the "Xi'an Incident."


July 7 The Lugouqiao Incident occurred, and the nationwide War of Resistance Against Japan started.

July 8 The CPC Central Committee published an open telegram to the nation after the Lugouqiao Incident, calling on the people to resist Japanese aggression.

July 11 The Japanese Government decided to bring reinforcements into China.

July 15 The Chinese Communist Party delivered to the Kuomintang the "Declaration of the CPC Central Committee on Publishing the Cooperation Between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang" and asked the latter to publicize it immediately. On July 23, Chiang Kai-shek gave a talk in which he promised to publish the declaration on cooperation between the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang. At the same time, he recognized the Chinese Communist Party and cooperation between the two parties for resisting the Japanese.

July 29 Peiping fell.

July 30 Tianjin fell.

August 13 The Japanese army attacked Shanghai and bombarded the center of the city. The army and the people in Shanghai rose in resistance.

August 22 The CPC Central Committee held the Luochuan Meeting, in which it passed a "Ten-point Program for Resisting Japan and Saving the Country."

August 25 According to the agreement of the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang, Mao Zedong, chairman of the Revolutionary Commission of the CPC Central Committee, and vice-chairmen Zhu De and Zhou Enlai ordered the Red Army to be changed to the Eighth Route Army of the National Revolutionary Army. Zhu De was the commander-in-chief, Peng Dehuai, deputy commander-in-chief, Ye Jianying, chief of staff, Zou Quan, deputy chief of staff, Ren Bishi, director of the Political Department, and Deng Diaoping, vice-director.

August 31 The Eighth Route Army crossed the Yellow River to march to the frontlines.

September 6 The Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region Government was set up.

September 25 The 115th Division of the Eighth Route Army ambushed the Fifth Division of the Japanese army in Pingxingguan, wiping out more than 1,000 of the enemy troops and logistic personnel. The battle marked the first victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan.

October 2 The Kuomintang government declared that the guerrilla forces of the Red Army in 13 areas of eight southern provinces should be reorganized into the New Fourth Army. October 6 The U.S. published a statement against the Japanese invasion of China.

October 26 The Japanese army occupied Niangziguan, which wiped out the big obstacle to attacking Taiyuan.

November 8 The Japanese army occupied Taiyuan, the capital of Shanxi.

November 12 Shanghai fell.

December 13 Nanjing fell. The Japanese army was ferocious. Chinese people killed or buried alive totaled more than 300,000. These deaths and more than 20,000 rape cases made up the world-shocking "Nanjing Massacre."


January 6 The headquarters of the New Fourth Army was set up in the capital of Jiangxi Province, Nanchang, with Ye Ting as army commander, Xiang Ying, vice-commander, and Zhang Yunyi, chief of staff.

March 23-April 6 The Chinese army won a big victory in Taierzhuang in Shandong Province, in which it wiped out more than 20,000 of the enemy.

May 19 The Japanese army occupied Xuzhou, followed by Kaifeng and Xinzheng of Henan Province.

June 9 In order to stop the Japanese army from attacking Zhengzhou, Kuomintang army authorities went to far as to order the dike in Huayuankou north of Zhengzhou to be breached. This resulted in 3,000 square kilometers to be inundated and the death of innumerable people. Many others became destitute and homeless.

September 29-November 6 The Central Committee of the CPC held its Sixth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee in Yanan. During the meeting, attendees discussed the major political and military tasks of the Party at the stalemate stage in the war.

October 25 Wuhan fell. After Guangzhou and Wuhan fell, the War of Resistance Against Japan entered the stage of strategic stalemate.

December 29 Wang Jingwei published a circular telegram in Hanoi, Viet Nam, openly betraying his country.


Mid-February The Japanese army occupied Hainan Island and enforced a naval blockade against China.

Early May In order to consolidate its occupation of Wuhan, the Japanese army attacked Suixian and Zaoyang.

September 25 The First Changsha Campaign occurred, an important campaign in the frontline battlefield during the early period of the stalemate stage.

October 24 The Japanese army occupied Nanning.


March 29 A puppet "National Government" was set up in Nanjing, with Wang Jingwei as its acting president.

March 30 The Foreign Ministry of the Kuomintang government addressed a note to diplomatic envoys in China, announcing that Nanjing's Wang Jingwei puppet government was invalid.

August 20-December 5 The Eighth Route Army launched 100 regiments of 400,000 men in a battle in north China. This battle, popularly called "Hundred-Regiment Campaign," was the biggest attack led by the Chinese Communist Party against the enemy during the war. The campaign included 1,824 battles. It wiped out 20,645 Japanese troops and 5,155 puppet soldiers. This campaign played an important role in the anti-Japanese war. It proved that the Chinese Communist Party and the anti-Japanese army led by it represented the backbone of the struggle against the invaders.

September 27 Japan, Germany and Italy formally signed a military alliance treaty.

December 29 U.S. President Roosevelt, in a radio "Fireside Chat," said China, Britain and the United States should throw in their lot together.


January 6 Kuomintang troops attacked the New Fourth Army with seven divisions in south Anhui in order to start a civil war. The event is called the "South Anhui Incident."

January 25 Japanese troops surrounded Panjiayu in Fengrun County, Hebei Province and killed all the 1,230 people in the village. The shocking event is called the "Panjiayu Massacre."

Late October Japanese troops launched a massive "mopping-up" campaign in the Taihang Mountains.

November 3 The Japanese army launched "mopping-up" operations in the Yimeng Mountains in Shandong Province with more than 50,000 troops.

December 7 The Japanese achieved a sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, inflicting heavy losses on the American navy base. Japan declared war on the United States, the Soviet Union and the Netherlands. The Pacific war broke out.

December 9 The Kuomintang government published a formal war declaration against Japan, at the same time announcing that China was in a status of war against Germany and Italy.


January 1 Twenty-six countries, including China, Britain, the United States, the Soviet Union and the Netherlands, met in Washington D.C., U.S.A, where they signed a manifesto of war against the Axis countries of Germany, Japan and Italy, saying that none of them would make a separate peace with the enemy.

January 3 Chiang Kai-shek held the post of supreme commander of the Allied forces in the China war zone, responsible for command of the Allied forces of China, Viet Nam and Thailand.

February China set up an expeditionary army and for the first time entered Burma (present-day Myanmar) to fight alongside the British army there.

May 1-June 30 With Yasuji Okamura in command, more than 50,000 Japanese troops started a "May 1st mopping-up operation" in Central Hebei Plain.


February 2 The Soviet Union defeated Germany in an astounding battle in Stalingrad.

September 6 The 11th Plenary Session of the Fifth Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang was held.

September 20-November 3 The Japanese started an "autumn mopping-up operation" against the Hebei-Shangdong-Henan base area with 30,000 troops. Fully prepared well before that, the army and people there using flexible tactics fought more than 300 battles, wiping out 11,000 enemy troops.

October For the second time, the Chinese army entered Burma to fight the Japanese.

Later October Changde Campaign occurred.

December 2 The Guangdong Dongjiang People's Anti-Japanese Guerrilla Column was set up, with Zeng Sheng as the commander.


March The Guangdong Qiongya people's Anti-Japanese Independent Column was set up in Hainan Island, with Feng Baiju as the commander and political commissar.

April 17 In order to open a land transport line, the Japanese army attacked Henan, Hunan and Guangxi with a 500,000-strong force, thus starting the "Operation Number One."

April 22 The Japanese army occupied Zhengzhou.

June 18 Japanese troops occupied Changsha.

August 15 The Fourth Division of the New Fourth Army moved west.

December Guerrillas fighting in the Zhujiang Delta set up the Zhujiang Column. The Central Column of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Liberation Army was established in central Guangdong. The Hanjiang Column was set up in the Chaozhou-Shantou area.


Early January The Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Military Region army started a powerful spring offensive against the enemy.

January The Taihang Military Region army started a spring offensive.

February 1 The Shandong Military Region army started a spring offensive.

February 4-11 The Yalta Conference: The leaders of the Soviet Union, Britain and the U.S.—Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt – and their foreign ministers met in Yalta, Crimea, to discuss world problems after the war.

April 20 The Shanxi-Shandong-Henan Military Region army started a spring offensive.

April 23 At the Seventh National Congress of the CPC, Mao Zedong reported "On Coalition Government," an analysis of the situation at home and abroad.

May 2 The Allied forces captured Berlin.

May 10 Germany declared surrender.

May 12 The Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Military Region army started a summer offensive.

June 5 The Shandong Military Region army started a summer offensive.

July 26 In the form of a joint declaration by China, the U.S. and Britain, the Potsdam Proclamation was published urging Japan to surrender.

August 6 The U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. On August 9, it dropped the second atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

August 8 According to the Yalta Agreement, The Soviet Government declared war on Japan. By cover of night, the Soviet Red Army crossed the border to attack the Japanese army.

August 9 The Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army started their counteroffensive against the Japanese army.

August 15 The emperor of Japan addressed his nation by radio announcing acceptance of the Potsdam Proclamation and Japan's unconditional surrender to the Allies.

September 2 Japan surrendered to Allied countries. The official signing ceremony of the instrument of surrender was held on the American battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

September 9 Representing Japan, Yasuji Okamura signed the instrument of surrender to China in Nanjing.