The Search for Allies:
Chinese Alliance Behavior from 1930 to the End of WW II
A Professional Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of
Master of Arts
Diplomacy and Military Studies
Patrick Bratton PhD (First Reader)
George Satterfield PhD (Second Reader)
We certify that we have read this professional paper and that, in our opinion, it is satisfactory in scope and quality for the degree of Master of Arts in Diplomacy and Military Studies.
Approved: Patrick Bratton Ph.D.,
Primary Reader 4/28/09
Approved: George Satterfield Ph.D.,
Secondary Reader 4/28/09
In face of the Japanese annexation of Manchuria and further invasion of the whole mainland, China in the 1930s and 1940s switched its alliances from Germany, to the Soviet Union and finally to the United States. What caused these drastic shifts in China’s alliance behavior during its resistance war against Japan? The Chinese diplomatic efforts in seeking anti-Japanese alliances were largely based on the belief that an inevitable war between Japan and other powers was imminent. However, the Chinese attempt of provoking a Soviet-Japanese total war failed after the Soviet Union and Japan signed the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, which marked the cessation of Sino-Soviet alliance. As war went on, the Chinese depended more and more on the support from the United States. The attack on the U.S. at Pearl Harbor, which the Chinese leaders prayed for, was the turning point. After Pearl Harbor attack, the U.S. decided to officially form an alliance with China against Japanese aggression, and the Chinese dream of triggering a war between Japan and the powers eventually materialized.
In this thesis, I am also going to examine why and under what international political circumstances Germany, the Soviet Union, and finally the United States in the 1930s and 1940s explored forming an alliance with China. Generally, national interests, including economic interests and national security, were the main principals,
which guided those countries’ foreign policies towards China. Germany was interested in developing a close and friendly relationship with China because China was the focus of Germany’s commercial interests from 1932 to 1938. Due to the Japanese threat to the Soviet Far East, the Soviet Union was willing to extend financial and military aid to China from 1937 until the signing of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact. The changing attitude from the U.S. government towards the Second Sino-Japanese war, from a wait-and-see policy to total commitment of a Sino-US alliance in the Asia Pacific, was also consistently guided by the national interests of its own country.
Table of Contents
2. Diplomatic Relations between China & Germany-----------------------------------17
History of Relations between China & Germany---------------------------------------18
Reasons for Sino-German Alliance--------------------------------------------------------20
Germany’s Economic & Military Contribution to China-------------------------------22
Failure of the German Mediation and the End of Sino-German Relations----------28
3. Diplomatic Relations between China & USSR---------------------------------------36
History of Relations between China & USSR------------------------------------------36
Soviet Military Aid-------------------------------------------------------------------------45
Reasons for Alliance Partners------------------------------------------------------------47
4. Diplomatic Relations between China & USA-----------------------------------------56
US Policy to China in 1937---------------------------------------------------------------57
Reasons for US Not Ready for Sino-US Alliance in 1937----------------------------61
US Diplomacy to China in 1938---------------------------------------------------------64
US Policy to China after the ―New Order., 1938-1940-------------------------------66
US Financial Aid to China from1938-1940---------------------------------------------66
Reasons for Willingness to Assist China------------------------------------------------67
The Forming of Sino-US Alliance, from 1940-the End of WWII-------------------69
US Military & Financial Aid to China and Sino-US Wartime Cooperation--------70
5. Concluding Remarks----------------------------------------------------------------------77
List of Tables
Table 4.1: Initial Programming of Lend-Lease Funds for China: April 1941----------71
A special thanks to Dr. Patrick Bratton and Dr. George Satterfield for your time and support during the course of this paper and throughout my stay at Hawaii Pacific University
To Mom, Dad, and my baby boy on the way
Since the late nineteenth century, China had been reduced to an object of imperialist rivalry and of balance-of-power struggles in the Far East. Japan’s effort to establish a ―New Order. in this part of the world by conquering Manchuria in 1931 and thus nullifying the Nine Power Treaty went unchallenged by the powers. However, China, the object of power politics, did not acquiesce to Japan’s ―New Order. and eventually resisted it both by necessity and by choice. The decades of the 1930s and early 1940s witnessed an active Chinese diplomacy, struggling to find allies in order to make its country’s own survival possible. The decision to fight Japan in 1937 altered China’s status from an object to a player, thus adding a new dimension to the Far Eastern power configurations.
Research Methods & Structural Framework
The method I have employed is straightforward. The principal historical evidence I have used is the history of China-Germany, China-USSR and China-US diplomatic relations from 1930 to the end of the Second World War. I am going to explore two main questions in this thesis. First, what drove the Chinese search for allies against Japan from 1930 to 1945? Second, why and under what circumstances did Germany, the Soviet Union, and finally the United States during in the 1930s-40s
have an interest in forming an alliance with China in each case? This paper consists of three main body parts: 1) Sino-German relations from the early 1930s to the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War; 2) Sino-Soviet relations from 1932 to the signing of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact; and 3) Sino-US relations from 1937 to the end of World War II. Also, some political science theories of alliance formation are introduced at the end of each chapter in order to shed light on the history and understand the motivation behind Germany, the Soviet Union, and the U.S. to ally with China during different period of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Chapter 2 deals with the Sino-German relations from the inter-war period to the cessation of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1940. This part starts with the Chinese concept of imperialism and its changing perceptions of Germany when Germany lost all its influence in China after the Great War. It stresses the important role Germany played in reforming China’s armed forces both economically and militarily, and the reasons why both countries were willing to form such an alliance in order to approach their respective goals. For China, an ally as Germany strengthened China’s armed forces and modernized its industry in order to effectively resist Japan’s aggression. For Germany, the vast Chinese market and its economic benefits were vital to Germany’s China policy.
Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 deal with China’s relations with the Soviet Union and the United States respectively. The details of the negotiating process of forming a Sino-USSR alliance, mutual distrust and political concerns from both sides, the
signing of the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact Agreement, and USSR military contribution to the Chinese resistance war against Japan, were examined in Chapter 3. Mainly due to the unwillingness of the major Western powers during the 1930s, the Soviet Union became China’s only choice during that period. After the disintegration of Sino-USSR alliance, how China and the U.S. eventual formed an official alliance in the 1940s is the subject of Chapter 4. The U.S. foreign policy towards China evolved from a lukewarm attitude to forming an alliance with China against Japan.
By studying the three cases, first, I demonstrate that ideology does not play a significant role in alliance formation under certain international circumstances.1 From the Sino-German alliance case and the Sino-Soviet alliance case, it shows that sharing the same ideology and beliefs lessens the mutual suspicions and facilitates better cooperation between the two allies, while mutual distrust is more easily generated between two allies having opposite ideology, which could jeopardize their relationship and effective cooperation. However, ideology is less powerful in orienting the alliance formation. In order to prevent the Japanese invasion of the Soviet Union, Stalin had to take the survival of his communist brother---Chinese Communists Party---to the backseat and form an alliance with Chiang Kai-shek, whose primary domestic policy was to liquidate the Chinese Communists Party. Had ideology really predominated in Germany’s foreign policy in the Far East, Germany
1 Stephen M. Walt, the Origins of Alliances, Cornell University Press (1987): 5.
2 Klaus Hildebrand, Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Ausenpolitik von Bismarck zu Hitler 1817-1945, Ausgabe, Berlin (1999): 15.
3 Chen, Renxia, Zhong Ri De Sanjiao Guanxi [Triangle Relations among China, Japan and Germany], Sanlian Bookstore Publisher (2003): 87.
4 Yuanhua Shi, Zhonghuamingguo Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History of Nationalist China], Shanghai: Shanghai Publisher (1994): 34.
5 William Kirby, Germany and Republican China, Stanford University Press (1984): 35.
6 Being treated by Germany on equal terms, Chinese found the Germans admirable and attractive socially and commercially, See ―Comments on Current Events, May 1-13, 1931., U.S. Military Intelligence Reports: China, 1911-1941, Roll 1, Frame 1560.
7 Chen, Renxia, Zhong Ri De Sanjiao Guanxi [Triangle Relations among China, Japan and Germany]: 126.
8 President of the Reichsbank to State Secretary in the Reich Chancellory, 6 June, 1933, Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-1945: The Third Reich (Hereafter cited as DGFP) (Series C), vol.1. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office (1983): 528.
9 See Zhongguo Nianjian 1929-1930 [China Year Book 1929-1930], North China Daily and Herald Publisher (1930): 752-753.
10 John Fox, ―Max Bauer: Chiang Kai-shek’s First German Military Advisor., Journal of Contemporary History, no. 4 (1970): 21.
11 See DGFP (Series C), vol. 1: 159.
12 The Weimar Government did not intend to alienate Japan. But the presence of the Germany military advisors made the Weimar Government hard to keep neutral in the Sino-Japanese dispute. See Helmut Strauss, Deutschland und der japanisch-chinesische Krieg.Das Dilema der deutschen Ostasienpolitik, Technische Universitat Dresen (2001): 16.
13 Klaus Hildebrand, Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Ausenpolitik von Bismarck zu Hitler 1871-1945, Ausgabe, Berlin (1999):287.
14 Chen, Renxia, Zhong Ri De Sanjiao Guanxi [Triangle Relations among China, Japan and Germany]: 87.
15 Kuo, Heng, Von der Kolonialpolitik zur Kooperation, Minerva Press, Berlin/M FCnchen; Germany (1986): 215.
16 William Kirby, Germany and Republican China: 135.
17 See Sun, Yat-sen, Zhongguo de Guoji Fazhan [the International Development of China]: 298.
18 Detail content of this treaty, see Helmut Strauss, Deutschland und der japanisch-chinesische Krieg: 86-88.
19 Ibid. 94.
20 See Sun, Yat-sen, Zhongguo de Guoji Fazhan [the International Development of China]: 315.
would have continued its loyalties to the Nationalist China, which was governed by Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-communism regime.
Second, I suggest that choices of alliance are mainly guided by national interests, which include economic interests and national security. Evidence shows that Germany chose to have a close relationship with China in the early 1930s mainly because Germany coveted the vast market in China for German exports. Germany did not terminate its cooperation with China and turn to ally with Japan immediately after the Manchuria Incident, because Japan’s offers of economic benefits in Manchuria for German business was meager compared to that of China. As the Sino-Japanese conflict went on and more and more areas where German business interests were concentrated fell into the Japanese control, Germany opted to cease its support to China. For USSR, the Sino-Soviet alliance was also based on the Soviets concern about its own national security, which was threatened by the potential Japanese invasion. Though the U.S. foreign policy was changing as the Sino-Japanese conflict went on, it was consistently guided by national interests. The U.S. held a wait-and-see attitude initially when Japanese invasion of China had not posed a large threat to the U.S. economic interests in China. Japan’s ―New Order., which reflected its ambition of establishing hegemony in East Asia and largely threatened the U.S. interests, put the United States on the way of considering forming an alliance with China
Third, there seemed to exist a highly consistent and widely accepted belief
system among the Chinese regarding international politics in general and the Second Sino-Japanese conflict in particular. It consisted of two major perceptions: first, that Japan’s aggression in China threatened Western interests in the Far East and that conflicts between imperialist powers to control China (Japan on the one hand and the Western powers on the other since 1931) were inevitable; second, that it was practical for China to seek anti-Japanese alliances as a way to defend its own homeland. I argue that the rationale of Chinese policy during the whole World War II was influenced directly or indirectly by these perceptions. In both the cases of the Sino-Soviet alliance and the Sino-US alliance, the governing concept in the mind of Chinese leaders was that Japan would eventually enter into conflict with these powers. Such a belief resulted in proposals for formal alliance between China and these powers. However, the Chinese failed to trigger a conflict between Japan and the USSR. As time went on, the Chinese counted heavily on the United States. The coming of Pearl Harbor attack and the official forming of a Sino-US alliance in the Pacific Theater seemed to have vindicated the Chinese belief about the inevitable conflict between Japan and the powers.
A Note on Sources
Important as it was, China’s foreign policy and its relations with Germany in the 1930s had not received as close scholarly attention as that of the United States, partly because of the lack of sufficient archival materials available from China and the lack of German primary sources in English language.
Documents on German Foreign Policy 1918-45: The Third Reich (Series C & D), published by Washington D.C. in 1983 are good primary sources in English language to find out the motivations behind Germany’s foreign policy towards China from Weimar to Hitler. In his memoir, German Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop recalled how Germany attempted to mediate the Second Sino-Japanese conflict and hoped that China could join the Tripartite Alliance. Kangzhan Zhong Junshi Waijiao De Zhuanbian [Changes in Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the Resistance War], written by one of the top Chinese foreign policy staffers, Gan Jie-hou, is a good primary source in Chinese language, in which Gan gave an insider’s look of the Chinese foreign policy calculations of Sino-German relations after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
In the 1980s, an excellent study of China’s bilateral relations with Germany greatly broadened our understanding of the Chinese side of the story. William Kirby’s Germany and Republican China, based on a number of German sources and archives revealed by Taiwan, is an outstanding book, which gives a detailed look at Sino-German relations, treaties signed by the two countries, German’s contribution to China’s modern industrialization, and German military mission from the inter-war period to the end of Sino-German relations in 1940.
There is also a great deal of other German and Chinese secondary sources concerning the relationship between the two countries in the 1930s, which include Klaus Hildebrand’s Das vergangene Reich: Deutsche Ausenpolitik von Bismarck zu
Hitler 1871-1945 [the Last Empire: Germany’s Foreign Policy from Bismarck to Hitler 1871-1945] published in 1999, Helmut Strauss’ Deutschland und der japanisch-chinesische Krieg [Germany and the Sino-Japanese War] published in 2001, Wu Xiangxiang’s Dierci Zhongri Zhanzhengshi [History of the Second Sino-Japanese War] and Chen Renxia’s Zhong Ri De Sanjiao Guanxi [Triangle Relations among China, Japan and Germany] published in 2003. Hildebrand’s book is an important work to understand German’s intentions in the Far East and what oriented Germany’s foreign policy towards China. He argues in his book that Germany’s policy in China from Bismarck to Hitler was consistently driven by economic concerns.2 Chen Renxia’s book takes a close look at the Sino-German relations in the 1930s and why in 1938 Nazi Germany ceased its support and opted to ally with Japan when Sino-Japanese War escalated to the Asian theater of World War II, although divergence and hatred occurred at times between Germany and Japan.3
Other secondary sources such as Liang His-Huey’s book the Sino-German Connection: Alexander Von Falkenhausen between China and Germany 1900-1941 and John Fox’s journal article ―Max Bauer: Chiang Kai-shek’s First German Military Advisor. mainly focus on Germany’s significant role in reforming and modernizing the Chinese armed force and industry.
Two main important primary sources, on which my Chapter 3 rely, are Komissiia po izdaniuu diplomaticheskinkh dokumentov. Dokumenty Vneshnei Politiki USSR [Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy, 1936-1938], vol. 18-21 and Initial Compilation
of Important Historical Materials of the Republic of China.the Period of War of Resistance against Japan, Set Three, Wartime Diplomacy, Vol. 2. These primary sources show us that due to mutual distrust, ideological difference and complicated international political circumstance it took the two countries a long time to eventually sign the Sino-Soviet non-Aggression Treaty and form an alliance.
Why did the Soviet Union show interest in establishing diplomatic relationship with Nationalist China in the 1930s? Secondary sources such as Weigesiji’s (transliteration from Russian) Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History] published by China Dalian Foreign Language College, David Dallin’s Soviet Russia and the Far East, and John W. Garver’s Chinese-Soviet Relations 1937-1945: the Diplomacy of Chinese Nationalism explain the puzzles. In particular, John Garver’s book Chinese-Soviet Relations, relying primarily on government documents published by Taiwan in the 80s, reveals to us the active and shrewd diplomatic maneuvers of the Chinese government from 1937 to 1945. Weigesiji’s book is a good Russian-translated-to-Chinese secondary source written by a Russian academic author. Contrary to Garver, Weigesiji’s research depended mainly on the revealed Soviet documents.
Though China finally switched to the United States in 1941, why did Chiang Kai-shek not count on the United States at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War but only later since 1940? What were US-Japanese relations before the Pearl Harbor Attack? What was U.S. foreign policy towards China at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War? What made U.S. policy makers change their foreign
policy from ―non-interference., to ―strong word but no action., then to ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan., to finally ―allying with Nationalist China against Japan.? With those questions in mind, I started my research with primary sources available from both Chinese and American side, such as China Wartime Diplomacy, Vol. 3 published by Taipei KMT Party History Committee and U.S. Foreign Policy Documents and Papers, which are accessible both for printing version and online version, since most of the documents relating to US foreign policies during that period were declassified.
Tao Wenzhao’s Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949] and Shi Yuanhua’s Zhonghuamingguo Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History of Nationalist China] are two distinguished Chinese secondary sources. Shi Yuanhua’s book looks not only at Sino-US Relations and Chinese government’s active diplomatic manipulation to trigger a war between the U.S. and Japan, but also at how US-Japanese relations affected U.S. foreign policy towards China. His central argument is that the U.S. foreign policy towards China was consistently oriented by U.S. economic interests.4
Diplomatic Relations between China & Germany
The Republic of China and Germany maintained a fairly friendly and cooperative relationship during the 1920s and 1930s. The cooperative relationship between the two countries was instrumental in modernizing Chinese industry and armed forces prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War. The Republic of China (also known as the Nationalist China), which succeeded the Qing Dynasty in 1912, was fraught with factional warlords and foreign incursions and demand was high for foreign military expertise and equipment. The (Kuomintang) KMT’s Northern Expedition of 1928 nominally unified China, yet Imperial Japan loomed as a menacing foreign threat. The Chinese urgency to modernize the military and its national defense industry, coupled with Germany's need for a stable supply of raw materials and a vast market for its finished goods, put the two countries on a road of close relations from the late 1920s to the late 1930s. However, intense cooperation lasted only from the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 to the start of the war with Japan in 1937. The reasons for why ―good relations. between Germany and China began in the first place and were short-lived, lasting only four years, are complex and varied. This chapter will examine the origins and course of Sino-German relations in the 1920s and 1930s. It will explain why Germany and China parted ways at the end of the turbulent 1930s.
History of Relations between China & Germany
It is well known that upon Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 Nationalist China and the United States faced a common enemy and became close military allies in the Second World War. However, it is less well-known that during the 1920s and 1930s, until the Japanese invasion of China in 1937, China’s most important and reliable Western partner was Germany. What brought China and Germany together? The improvement of relations between modern China (after the Qing Dynasty collapsed in 1912) and Germany can be traced back to the end of World War I. Germany was defeated in the Great War, losing its concessions and sphere of influence in China. But Germany’s losses as an imperial power removed the obstacles toward improving Sino-German relations.5 China had been long semi-colonized and exploited by several European powers, including Germany, for almost a century with numerous unequal treaties. There was an outcry from the Chinese anti-imperialists, who were mad at the European powers. Following the removal of unequal treaties between China and Germany and the removal of German concessions in China, the Chinese had no longer viewed Germany as an imperialist threat.6
In 1920, von Borch, former German Ambassador in China, visited China on behalf of the German government. Following a round of negotiations, China and Germany signed a Sino-German Pact on May 20th, 1921 in order to reestablish the
official relations between the two countries.7 For the Chinese leaders, it was a point of great pride and honor to be treated as an equal on the international stage.
Germany had its own reasons for establishing formal relations with China. After the Great War, Germany's industrial output was severely restricted by the Treaty of Versailles. Its army was restricted to 100,000 men and its military production was greatly reduced. However, the treaty did not diminish the German military ambition to remain as a leader in military innovation. In order to maintain some capability as a military power, the Weimar Republic required access to raw materials like iron ore and coal and a market for the products of its scaled-down war industry. China seemed to offer both. Germany’s military policy was the main driving force, which guided its foreign policy to China prior to 1938.8 Many German arms manufacturers viewed China, a country that had slipped into civil war after the death of Yuan Shi-kai, as a huge market for weapons and military assistance.9
The KMT government in Canton welcomed the opportunity to purchase surplus and new German military equipment, even more it welcomed German military advice. German-educated Zhu Jia-hua, served as Chiang Kai-shek’s top advisor of Sino-German relations, played a crucial role in building relations with Germany and handled almost all of the Sino-German treaty negotiations between 1926-1944. In 1926, Zhu Jia-hua contacted then-colonel Max Bauer of the German army, advising him of military and business opportunities in China. Next year, Bauer visited Chiang Kai-Shek, who hired him as a military advisor, wishing to use his contacts to
acquire more weapons and industrial assistance from Germany.10 By the end of 1927, the Sino-German relationship was growing as both sides benefited.
The relationship was not without its contradictions and complexity. Before Hitler ascended to power in 1933, German policy toward China can be characterized as cooperative, but not more. The Weimar Government urged for a policy of neutrality in the Far East, and discouraged the Reichswehr-industrial complex from involving itself directly with the Chinese government in order not to offend Japan.11 After the Mukden Incident in 1931, the Weimar Government adopted an attitude of neutrality and sought to avoid taking sides in the Sino-Japanese dispute, suggesting that the dispute should be solved at the Washington Conference under the framework of the Nine Power Protocol, but in practice, the Weimar government continued to offer military advice and Japan voiced the misgiving at the presence of Germany military advisors in China.12
The 1933 seizure of power by the Nazi Party accelerated an intimate relationship between Germany and China. Because Hitler's new policy of Wehrwirtschaft (war economy) called for the complete mobilization of society and stockpiling of raw materials, particularly militarily important materials such as tungsten, which China could supply in abundance, Germany and China became closer.13
Reasons for Sino-German Alliance
For China, Japan was a major threat after the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-95). The Japanese threat and aggressive intentions were self-evident after Mukden Incident
in 1931, in which Manchuria was officially annexed by Japan. To protect its people and lands, Chinese leaders of the KMT sought to industrialize the economy and to modernize its military. Yet, China’s closer ties to Germany as a military and economic partner require further explanation. Why did China incline toward Germany’s assistance rather than other industrialized and militarily powerful Western countries? Following the Versailles Peace Conferences, anti-Western protests erupted in China against the Big Three for having treated China unfairly.14 To be fair, the protests were mainly anti-British, and to a lesser extent anti-French. Great Britain and France both retained imperial control over Chinese territory and had imperial interests either directly in China or areas of traditional Chinese influence. Having losing all of its spheres of influence in China after World War I, Germany had no such imperial interests. The Chinese leadership found doing business with the Germans on equal terms far more attractive.15
Ideologically, Chiang Kai-shek saw parallels between China’s situation in the 1930s and Germany’s, and sought political lessons to apply. Both states were left as outsiders by Versailles and had no genuine allies to safeguard their interests. On a personal level, Chiang admired the strength of ―national character, efficient dictatorial government, and obedient populace. he saw in Germany.16 For Many Chinese leaders, Germany’s unification in 1871 had become a model for China to learn from after decades of being treated unfairly by the imperialists and separated by various regional warlords over a century.17
Germany’s Economic and Military Contribution to China
In August 1934, the former German General, Hans von Seeckt, and his counterpart Dr. Zhu Jia-hua, top KMT advisor of Sino-German relations, on behalf of their respective government signed the Treaty for the Exchange of Chinese Raw Materials and Agricultural Products of German Industrial and Other Products. Under the conditions of this treaty, the Chinese government would send strategically important raw material in exchange for German industrial products and development.18 This barter agreement was beneficial to Sino-German cooperation since China had a very high budget deficit due to military expenditures through years of civil war and was unable to secure monetary loans from the international community, meanwhile Germany could secure its massive raw material dependence on China by this agreement.19 In addition, the agreement expedited not only Chinese industrialization, but also military reorganization.
The origins of the German Military Mission to China in the 1920s and 1930s can be traced back to the early period of Sun Yat-Sen, the father of the Chinese Republic. Prior to World War One, Sun Yat-Sen traveled to Germany on a number of occasions. He admired how Germany unified itself, how German academic, economic and social welfare institutions operated. He also believed that many aspects of German life could also be applied to China to help develop China and to help China lay a strong foundation for the future.20 Sun had a strong appreciation for
German accomplishments. Many influential Kuomintang (KMT) officials, such as Chiang Kai-Shek and Dr. Zhu Jia-hua, shared this pro-German feeling.
In 1927, after the dissolution of the First United Front between the Nationalists and the Communists, the ruling Kuomintang purged its leftist members and completely eliminated Soviet and other communist influence from its ranks. Chiang Kai-shek then turned to Germany, historically a great military power, for the reorganization and modernization of the National Revolutionary Army.21 The Weimar Republic sent advisors to China, but because of the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, they could not serve overtly in military capacities. Chiang initially requested famous generals such as Ludendorff and von Mackensen as advisors, but the Weimar Republic turned him down, fearing that they were too famous, would invite the ire of the Allies, and would result in the loss of national prestige for such renowned figures to work as mercenaries.22
21 China Party History Committee of the KMT Central Committee, Geming Wenxian [Revolutionary Documents], vol. 15. Taibei: Zhongyang Wenwu Gongyingshe (1956): 224.
22 Bernd Martin, Die deutsche Beraterschaft in China 1927-1928, Droste Verlag, D FCsseldorf, Germany (1981): 129.
23 John Fox, ―Max Bauer.: 21-44.
24 Ibid. 23.
25 Ibid. 30.
26 German-Japanese trade volume in 1930 was$234,000,000 German Mark in 1930. See DGFP (Series D), vol. 1: 469.
27 Trautsman to Foreign Ministry, 17 May, 1934, DGFP (Series C), vol. 2: 825.
28 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949, Princeton University Press (1956): 75.
29 John Fox, ―Max Bauer.: 42.
31 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949: 86.
32 Trautsman to Foreign Ministry, 17 May, 1934, DGFP (Series C), vol. 2: 825.
33 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949: 91.
34 Ibid. 115.
35 Von der Heydn-Rynsch, 19 Oct, 1937, DGFP (Series D), vol. 1: 768.
36 Voss to German Ambassador in China, 13 April, 1937, DGFP (Series C), vol. 4: 645.
37 Wiehl, 23 April 1938, DGFP (Series D), vol.1: 852
38 Trautsman to Foreign Ministry, 31 December, 1934, DGFP (Series C), vol. 3: 761.
39 Hermann Goring to Joachim Ribbentrop, 6 June, 1937, DGFP (Series C), vol. 1: 826.
40 Bloch, 29, DGFP (Series C), vol. 4: 348
41 William Kirby, Germany and Republican China: 195.
42 Ibid. 214.
43 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949:145.
44 Ibid.157, this organization is like the modern use of combat groups with a division.
45 ―Comments on Current Events, August 20, 1937., U.S. Military Intelligence Reports: China, 1911-1941.
46 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949: 167.
47 See Billie Walsh, ―the German Military Mission in China., Journal of Modern History 46 (September 1974): 511. Walsh argues that the German mission’s influence was instrumental in the victory. The German military mission stressed to the Chinese the use of artillery in destroying enemy defenses. Prior to the Germany mission, artillery was not used en masse by the Chinese. After the mission, the Chinese attempted to use artillery when possible.
48 See Chiang’s diary entry of November 24, 1937 in Qin Xiao-yi, ed., Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major Events in the life of Former President Chiang], vol. 4, Part 1: 146.
49 For detailed description of close German-Chinese relations, see William Kirby, Germany and Republican China, Chapter Seven.
50 In August 1937 the Soviet Union and China signed the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and
Max Bauer was sent to China as the Weimar Republic military advisor and arms broker in violation of the Treaty of Versailles.23 Bauer supported the Chinese government in the creation of a special China Trade Department and formed contacts with the secret German military mission in Nanking. He also managed to influence a decision to move the Central Military academy from Nanking to Huangpu and staff it with German military advisors and instructors in military training and military intelligence.24 Economically, he supported opening up the Chinese market to German exports.25 In 1930, China became the largest trade partner with Germany in
the Far East with the volume of $347,500,000 German Marks.26 German business concluded armament agreements with Chiang’s government and soon a deluge of German material equipment found its way to the Chinese Army. The arms deals concluded with Germany contributed significantly to improving the quality of the Chinese Army. Small arms and ammunitions were purchased from the German industry and integrated into a standard Chinese military organization under the watchful eyes of German advisors. Additionally, China received heavy equipment and artillery through these transactions.27 During this period, German aviation companies were also working strongly to establish a presence in China. Lufthansa was one of the leading developers of new aviation routes all over Eastern Asia and a number of German-Chinese aviation companies were also established, such as the EURASIA Fluggesellschaft.28 These companies sent out former German military personnel to China and they also helped deliver goods and supplies in both directions as required. Although Bauer passed away suddenly in China in 1929, his accomplishments remained sturdy. After Bauer’s death, Colonel Hermann Kriebel succeeded Bauer in his post in 1930.29 Unlike Bauer, Kriebel lacked the interpersonal communication skills in dealing with his Chinese hosts, let alone coordinated and reformed the Chinese army, and he was replaced by Georg Wetzell in 1932, who was also not a good candidate.30
When Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and renounced the Treaty of Versailles, Nazi Germany and China governed by Kuomintang were soon engaged in
closer cooperation with Germany. Training of Chinese troops by German military advisors became overt and economic advisors assisted in expanding Chinese infrastructure, meanwhile China opened its markets and natural resources to Germany. In May 1933, General Hans von Seeckt arrived in Shanghai as the head of the German mission in China. Von Seeckt was a preeminent figure in German military. During World War I, he served in various high-level staff positions on the Easter Front. After the end of the war and the dissolution of the old imperial army, von Seeckt was assigned to organize the new Reichswehr within the strict restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.31 Upon his arrival, von Seeckt ensured Chiang a steady flowing stream of German arms for Chinese troops.32 He also urged Chiang to organize a centralized small, mobile, well-equipped and uniformly trained force under Chiang’s command instead of a massive but under-trained army.33 By the end of 1933, the Deutsche Beraterschaft in China (German Advisory Mission in China) had grown to over 50 personnel, containing three branches, one covering administrative, aviation, economic, industrial, police and railroad development issues, a second covering General Staff issues, and a third covering military education and training to improve the quality of the Chinese Army.34
Prior to von Seeckt heading the German mission in China, German arms sales were conducted mainly by individual German companies. Von Seeckt ended those uncoordinated German business ventures in China. In January 1934, Handelsgesellschaft fur industrielle Produkte (Trading Company for Industrial
Products) was founded to unify all German industrial interests in China.35 The HARPO (Handelsgesellschaft fur industrielle Produkt), guised as a private German trade association, was in fact a heavily controlled national organization. Its goal was to funnel German military goods to China. Under its charter, German firms provided China with industrial products and arms and China, in return, delivered raw materials and resources to Germany.36 In 1936, HAPRO delivered nearly 24,000,000 Reichmarks worth of arms to China and by the end of 1937 military contracts exceeded 82,000,000 Reichmarks.37 Complimenting the efforts of HARPO, more formally documented military training programs were established between China and Germany. Trade to China not only contained items such as uniforms, guns, but also included items such as manufacturing know-how, blueprints for factories, railroad technologies, munitions plants, communications technologies, etc.38 China purchased through HAPRO numerous small arms for the growing Chinese Army, and the Chinese Navy benefited with the purchase of coastal patrol boats, and even submarines as well.39 Under HAPRO agreements, China produced over twenty-three percent of Germany’s metal imports in return.40 However, due to ill health, von Seeckt returned to Germany in December 1936.41
In 1936, Hitler assigned Alexander von Falkenhausen to serve in the German military mission in China. Like von Seeckt, von Falkenhausen contributed greatly to the Chinese military efforts. However, Unlike von Seeckt, who focused more on making commercial contracts for German companies than on the military aspects of
his assignment, von Falkenhausen was the opposite.42 His key focus was on preparing and training China's army on strategy and tactics, based on German doctrine and organization. He helped to reorganize some of China’s fighting formations from a traditional six regiments under a division headquarters to two brigades of two regiments each.43 This decreased the demand of division headquarters’ staff and in theory allowed for greater operational flexibility. In addition, two regiments acting in concert under a brigade headquarters presented a more potent force than six regiments acting independently because coordination and control was easily achieved.44 Unfortunately, modern training and doctrine were ignored in most of the very large Chinese Army. Only a few divisions received training. Von Falkenhausen also attempted to train as many Chinese units as possible by rotating divisions from the front-line to the rear for training. This practice increased the effectiveness of many divisions because soldiers received tactical training and officers learned to coordinate the divisions together.45 The military units that received German training made a significant contribution to the Chinese efforts in the first year of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and they made an immediate impact against Chinese communists and other internal opponents of the regime before 1937 as well.46
Thanks to von Falkenhausen's strategy and tactics, both Kwangsi and Kwangtung provinces fell to Chiang Kai-Shek in the summer of 1936, and in April 1938 Chinese forces used the night attacks to undermine Japanese air superiority and artillery to smash Japanese positions in the battle of Taierchuang, which was an
important victory for Chiang Kai-shek.47 German advisors in China were certainly detrimental to the Japanese war efforts. By the end of 1937, the Japanese began to pressure the Germans to abandon their military mission in China. Hitler told the Japanese that he would curtail and end the German support efforts to China, but actually the German military support efforts in China continued. Like so many of Hitler’s promises, it meant very little except to Hitler.
Failure of the German Mediation and the End of Sino-German Relations
The collapse on the battlefield of Shanghai, southern Shanxi, and Nanking and the Failure of the Brussels Conference on November 15, 1937 forced Chiang Kai-shek to consider the German offer of mediation. On November 24th, 1937, Chiang admitted privately that he had to accept the German mediation in order to slow down the Japanese military advance.48 Chiang and other Chinese leaders were keenly aware of Germany’s incentive to see the end of the Sino-Japanese War. China was Germany’s third largest trading partner outside Europe and more than 70 German military advisers had been modernizing Chiang’s army and directing military campaigns when the war broke out.49 Germany, however, did not want to alienate Japan, its anti-Soviet partner. Japan’s war in China would diminish its deterrent value against the Soviet Union. Therefore, Germany attempted to be a broker to end the Sino-Japanese conflict. On the other hand, Germany was aware of the improvement of Sino-Soviet relations and the treaty signed between the two countries.50 Germany did not want China to be a totally pro-Soviet country, either.
Mutual Assistance, through which China was able to seek assistance from the Soviet Union.
51 See Gan, Jie-hou, Kangzhan Zhong Junshi Waijiao De Zhuanbian [Changes in Military and Diplomatic Affairs during the Resistance War]. Shanghai: Qianjinshe (1938): 38-39.
52 See John P. Fox, Germany and the Far Eastern Crisis, 1931-1938: A study in Diplomacy and Ideology, Oxford: Clarendon Press (1982): 238. On November 5, Trautmann transmitted the Japanese terms: 1) an autonomous Inner Mongolia; 2) a demilitarized zone in Noth China to be administered by officials appointed by Nanking friendly to Japan; 3) cessation of anti-Japanese policies; 4) common struggle against communism; 5) reduction of customs duties and 6) respect of rights of foreigners.
53 Ibid. 271-272.
54 Ibid. 272. Also see Chen, Bu-lei, Chen Bulei Huiyilu [Memoirs of Chen Bu-lei], Shanghai: 20th Century Chubanshe (1949): 97.
55 The new terms included: abandonment of pro-Communist, anti-Japanese, and anti-Manchuria activities and cooperation with Manchuria in anti-communism; setting up demilitarized zones and special regimes in these zones; economic cooperation among Japan, Manchuria, and China; and China’s necessary reparations to Japan. See Fox, Germany and the Far Eastern Crisis, 1931-1938, 277.
56 See Qin Xiao-yi, ed., Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major Events in the life of Former President Chiang], vol. 4, part 1: 154-156.
59 Neurath, 22 August, 1937, DGFP (Series D), vol.1: 760.
60 Ibid. 767,Mackensen, 19 October, 1937.
62 Ibid. 750, Neurath, 17 August, 1937.
63 Ibid. 763, Ribbentrop to Hitler, 19 September, 1937.
64 Ibid. 818, Raumer, 23 June, 1938.
65 Chen, Renxia, Zhong Ri De Sanjiao Guanxi [Triangle Relations among China, Japan and Germany]: 287.
66 Ibid. 290.
67 Joachim Ribbentrop, the Ribbentrop Memoirs, translated by Olive Watson, London: Ebenezer Baylis (1957):74-76.
68 See Chiang’s diary entry of November 24, 1940, Qin Xiao-yi, ed., Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major Events in the life of Former President Chiang], vol. 4, Part 1: 226.
69 Historically, Germany has trade relations with China. But World War I threatened the Sino-German trade. Trade between the two countries declined from 162,000 Hong Kong taels in 1915 to zero in 1918, see Ho, Ping-yin, ―A Survey of Sino-German Trade., People’s Tribune: A Journal of Fact and Opinion about China and other countries, No. 4 (1933): 79-97. However, the treaty of Versailles actually indirectly aided resumption of German trade with China for China found affinity with Germany. Germany lost privilege in China and dealt with China on equal terms.
Gan Jie-hou, one of Chiang’s foreign policy advisors, openly stated that Germany was actually against Japanese aggression in China. He believed that Germany would not want Japan to waste its armed forces on China and that China’s vast market and its raw materials were crucial to the German economy.51
High level contacts with Germans had been made as early as July 26, 1937 when Chiang Kai-shek asked the Germans to mediate the conflict. In early November 1937 Oskar Trautmann, German Ambassador to China, transmitted the Japanese terms for peace to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nanking government, urging the Chinese to reach an agreement with Japan.52 Chiang rejected the Japanese terms outright. When it became clear that the Anglo-American powers would do nothing, Chiang met Trautmann again on December 1st and conceded that the Japanese terms he had brought a month earlier could serve as a basis for negotiations.53 In his meeting with Trautman on December 3rd, Chiang requested that Germany be present throughout the negotiations. Chiang also stated that Chinese sovereignty and administrative integrity in North China should be guaranteed. To slow down Japanese military advances, he also insisted that a truce be arranged before any negotiations.54 Chiang was careful not to let the negotiations jeopardize Sino-Soviet relations by keeping Stalin well informed of the German mediation. By informing Stalin, Chiang could also increase his bargaining position with the Soviets and force them to take more positive actions in supporting China.
However, China’s negotiating position was further undermined by the fall of
Nanking, the capital of China. Bolstered by its new victories, Japan quickly changed its peace terms. It added new terms, such as cooperation with Manchuria and Japan in anti-communism, and reparations for Japan’s war expenses.55 Ambassador Trautmann, who relayed the Japanese terms on December 26 to Madame Chiang, urged acceptance. As noted by Chiang Kai-shek, the majority of Chinese officials were in favor of peace now, and at the National Defense Council on December 27, 1937 some even advocated acceptance of revised Japanese terms.56 The Second Sino-Japanese War crystallized political divisions within Chinese government and society on the question of peace and war. Throughout this period, there were heated debates between the war faction and the peace faction. Their debates, which had a profound impact on government decisions, centered around two issues: 1) China’s ability to withstand Japan’s military power, and 2) whether the Western powers would support China or even intervene.57 Chiang in early 1938 still continued to hope for an eventual intervention by the powers while keeping the door open for peace settlement with Japan under acceptable terms.58 Germany’s mediation efforts ceased after Japan refused to pursue peace and the Japanese forces resumed their advance in China in the spring of 1938.59
At this juncture, political events in Germany and military events in China would soon call a halt to the German programs in China. As early as Oct, 1937, a leading Nazi and close advisor to Hitler, Air Marshal Hermann Goring, urged for halting weapon shipment to China and adopting a pro-Japan foreign policy.60 However,
German Department of Defense and Foreign Ministry officials voiced their misgiving of losing important economic interests in China by adopting a pro-Japan policy.61 They doubted that Japan would later guarantee Germany’s economic interests in China if Germany severed its ties with China. Under such circumstance, Goring had to compromise with his domestic opponents and agreed that German manufacturers could still provide China secretly with weapons, but the shipment had to be under the cover of Denmark merchant shipping company to avoid antagonizing Japan further.62
Despite the continued flow of German arms, the Chinese Army was unable to achieve any notable success against the Japanese invaders in 1937. After the battle of Shanghai and its subsequent conquest by the Japanese, the Chinese army was worn out and morale was low. China appeared on the verge of collapse. Germany began to doubt that China could resist Japanese aggression.63 In February 1938, Germany officially recognized Manchuria and Japan offered Germany the position of most-favored-nation in the Manchuria market.64 On 28 April 1938, Goring, with Hitler’s support this time, officially called a halt to German military export shipments through HARPO to China, regardless of contractual obligations and recalled the German military advisors in China to Germany.65 The end of HARPO’s mission in the spring of 1938 marked an end to the period of ―good relations. between China and Germany. The distance increased between China and Germany when Hitler became preoccupied with the war that he began in Europe in September 1939 by invading Poland. In order to discourage the United States from supporting Great Britain after
the fall of France in June 1940, Hitler endorsed on September 27, 1940 the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy, and Japan.66
Yet, the end of HARPO’s mission in spring 1938 did not completely sever Sino-German ties, nor did the Tripartite Pact. Contact between China and Germany persisted until Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Both sides wished to resume the mutually beneficial cooperation, despite Germany’s interest in maintaining good relations with Japan as both a check against the Soviet Union and the United States. As Hitler planned his invasion of the Soviet Union, in late 1940, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop notified Chinese Ambassador Chen Jie Germany’s desire of friendly relations with China and Ribbentrop offered to mediate between China and Japan and also expressed the hope that China would join the Tripartite Alliance to combat the influence of the Communist International.67 But over the course of 1940 bolstered by the increasing American financial and covert military aid, Chiang Kai-shek viewed the harsh peace terms offered by Japan as unacceptable and determined to continue the war with Japan. Chiang wrote in his diary that he would count on diplomacy to ―promote unity of Britain and the United States and provoke international intervention so as to abort the enemy’s ambition of establishing hegemony in East Asia..68 This meant that Chiang would more vigorously pursue alliances with the Anglo-American powers and to a certain extent the Soviet Union. Now it was China that signaled the decline of Sino-German relations, which had been so productive in the 1920s and 30s. Determined on
winning the war against Japan with Anglo-American and potentially Soviet support, Chiang no longer viewed Germany as a channel of compromise with Japan. In July 1941, barely one week after his armies invaded the Soviet Union, Hitler officially recognized Wang Jingwei's puppet government in Nanking, thereby extinguishing any hope of renewed cordial relations with Chiang Kai-shek’s government.
Did ideology matter in the Sino-German alliance of the 1920s and 30s in an age dominated by ideology? It did play a small part after the Nazi seizure of power, but not really before. Both Nazi Germany and Chiang’s Nationalist China were anti-communist. Chiang Kai-shek also highly admired Nazi Germany’s efficient dictatorial government and intended to establish such a government system in China in order to unify and strengthen China. He also admired pre-Nazi Germany and its long record of accomplishment. German national unification offered a blueprint of sorts for China. The orderly nature of German society appealed to the Confucian sensibility of Chiang and many other Chinese officials. However, despite sharing a common loathing for the communists, at times, both Hitler (1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) and Chiang (overtures to Stalin after 1940 and particularly after the Nazi invasion of June 1941), were willing to put aside ideology in order to pursue national interests
Compared to ideology, national and economic interests took priority in defining Sino-German relations. From 1930 to 1938, Germany’s policy towards the
Far East was dictated by economic concerns and oriented towards a strong and adaptable Chinese market. Germany looked to China (and the Far East more broadly) in an effort to solve the Depression-era paradox of expanded needs versus constricting resources. The Reich grew closer to China instead of Japan during this period, mainly because the economic benefits from Japanese trade were not comparable to those in China.69 (Ironically, the United States trade with Japan far exceeded the value of its trade with China, yet it also grew closer to China in the same period.) Unlike the United States, a more self-sufficient economy, the importance of these economic benefits in its China trade drove Germany’s China policy until 1938 and dictated its political stance in the Far East often at the risk of antagonizing Japan and losing a bulwark against the Red Army in Siberia. The 1936 Anti-Comintern Pact, that included Germany and Japan as signatories, for example, was downplayed by Germany in light of its threatening nature to German-Chinese trade. Additionally, it was emphasized as not being an exclusively German-Japanese agreement. The importance of mineral resources and raw materials led to continuing German support for China long after Anti-Comintern Pact concluded by Nazi Germany and Japan in 1936.at least until Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941. Germany’s recognition of Manchuria in 1938, which carried with it the cessation of close ties with China and friendlier relations with Japan, was dictated by military and economic concerns as well. Initially, Germany resisted Japanese demands for the withdrawal of German military advisors from China, because Japanese offers of trade agreements
with Germany was vague. Germany still attempted to stabilize its remaining business interests in China by soothing the Chinese, who were upset by Germany’s recognition of Manchuria.
However, as regions in China important to German trade fell to Japanese aggression, Germany’s economic benefits in China declined sharply, and with Japanese luring offers of commercial interests in Manchuria, Germany gradually sided with Japan. Once the vast bulk of the German war machine was engaged against the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, committing itself to the largest land war in history, it became imperative that Germany should maintain close ties with Japan. The overriding concern became how to tie down the numerous Soviet Army divisions in Siberia long enough for Germany to succeed. Had Hitler succeeded, we can only begin to guess at the fate of China, caught between a Germany triumphant and a militaristic Japan.
Diplomatic Relations between China & USSR
The outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War in July 1937 forced China to secure foreign alliances. Negotiations between China and the USSR were undergoing long before 1937. In geopolitical and strategic terms, the Soviet Union and China shared a great concern over Japanese expansion and consequently both found it convenient and beneficial to cooperate. In this partnership, the ultimate Chinese objective was to bring about Soviet military intervention against Japan, a goal many Chinese believed to be attainable. The procurement of arms was obviously the immediate objective, since no other country was willing to extend substantial aid. For the Soviets, military aid was merely a security insurance premium. The Nazi-Soviet Pact and the outbreak of war in Europe forced the Soviets to appease Japan. In the final analysis, mutual suspicions and the European war prevented the Sino-Soviet relationship from developing into a full-fledged alliance.
History of Relations between China & USSR
Although the authorities in Tokyo took for granted that the Nationalist China’s resistance relied, to large extent, on the military and material assistance from the U.S. and Britain in the 1930s, it is clear that in the late 1930s the major military aid to China was actually from neither the US nor Britain, both of which would become
China’s allies later in the 1940s.70 Actually, it was Germany and the Soviet Union that provided support to the Chinese in the 1930s. Germany and China had close economic and military cooperation. More than half of the German arms exports during its rearmament period under Hitler were exported to China.71 Nazi Germany also condemned the Japanese invasion of China and the Nanking Massacre in 1937 and many Germans in Nanking made efforts to save the civilians from massacre after the city fell to the hands of the brutal Japanese troops. A documentary film of the Nanking Massacre was shown in Germany.72 However, Nazi Germany ceased its support in 1938 when the Second Sino-Japanese War escalated to the Asian theater of World War II and opted to ally with Japan. Germany knew that Japan was militarily a more powerful ally against the Soviet Union and the Western powers, although divergence and racial hatred erupted at times between Germany and Japan.73 With Germany no longer forthcoming as a provider of military assistance, Chiang’s government turned to the Soviet Union as the leading sponsor of military and economic aid.
70 Japan thought Nationalist China itself was weak. They thought due to the help from the western powers, it was able to resist against Japan, while in reality the condemnation and support from the US and Britain were symbolic and had no consequential impact on the course of war during that period. The US was totally isolated itself and Britain was busy in dealing with Nazi Germany, See Straus U. The Anguish of Surrender: Japanese POWs of World War II, Seattle & London: University of Washington Press (2003): 31.
71 Liu, F.F. A Military History of Modern China 1929-1949 (1956): 78.
72 Takashi Yoshidai, the Making of ―the Rape of Nanking.: History and Memory in Japan, China and the United States, Oxford University Press (2006): 31-32.
73 Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 11: 154.
74 James Morley, James W., ed. The China Quagmire: Japan’s expansion on the Asian Continent, 1933-1941, New York: Columbia University Press (1983): 158.
75 Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 11: 157.
76 Sun, Ke, Zhong Su Guanxi [Sino-Soviet Relations], Shanghai, Zhonghua Shuju (1946): 7.
77 See the archives of the 1937 Treaty at Guo Shi Guan (National Historical Institute) in Taipei, File Wai 02.1 12.
78 Quoted from David Dallin, Soviet Russia and the Far East, Hamden. CT: Archon Books (1971): 61.
79 See Initial Compilation of Important Historical Materials of the Republic of China.the Period of War of Resistance against Japan: Wartime Diplomacy (hereafter cited as Republican China Wartime Diplomacy), Vol. 2, Taipei: Kuomintang Committee on Party History (1980): 193.
80 Sun, Ke, Zhong Su Guanxi [Sino-Soviet Relations]: 38.
81 Gerard Friters, Outer Mongolia and Its International Position, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press (1949): 115.
83 Chen, Li-fu, ―Canjia Kangzhan Zhunbei Gongzuo De Huiyi. [Recollections about Participating in Preparations for the Resistance War], Zhuanji Wenxuan [Biographical Literature], 31, no. 1 (July 1977): 47.
84 Stalin, Molotov, Litvinov: Our Foreign Policy, Moscow-Leningrad: Co-operative Publishing Society of Foreign Workers in the U. S. S. R. (1934): 12.
86 Bogomolov to Foreign Ministry, July 19, 1937, Soviet Union. Komissiia po izdaniuu, diplomaticheskinkh dokumentov. Dokumenty Vneshnei Politiki SSSR [Documents on Soviet Foreign Policy, 1936-1938] (hereafter cited as DSFP). Moscow: Political Literature Publishing House, (1973-1977), vol. 20: 394.
87 Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 11: 174-5.
88 Zhang, Yun-fu, Zhongsu Wenti [The Sino-Soviet Problem], Shanghai: Commercial Press (1937): 29.
89 Foreign Minstry to Bogomolov, Dec.28, 1935, DSFP, vol. 18: 601-602.
90 Gerard Friters, Outer Mongolia and Its International Position: 197.
91 Moscow had an alliance with the Chinese warlord, whose armed force was not subject to
After the further Japanese invasion of China in 1937, Chiang Kai-shek clearly understood that it would be a protracted war. It was hardly possible for China, at that time a less developed and primarily agricultural country, to expel its enemy. Japan boasted the most modernized war machine and advanced industrial economy in Asia. Only the vastness of China’s territory and human population could off-set Japan’s short-term advantages. It was also simply not possible for Japan to win the
war and conquer the whole China by Germany’s ―Blitzkrieg. strategy in Europe due to the vast territory and population of China.74 Yet, China, with its own limitation, was not powerful enough to evict Japanese forces on its own, thus it would seek every potential ally to support itself in this protracted war. In 1937, Chiang depended upon neither the U.S. nor Britain, because, first, the U.S. public was isolationist since the Great War, seeking to avoid a major commitment and overseas war, and secondly, the world witnessed how Chamberlain appeased Hitler’s expansion in Europe. Chiang realized that Britain’s appeasement in Europe meant that it would likely also appease Japan in the Far East.75 Therefore, the Soviet Union became his last resort and potential partner against the Japanese. This was at first difficult because China’s relations with the Soviet Union had deteriorated since the split of CCP (Chinese Communists Party) and KMT (Kuomintang also know as ―Chinese Nationalist Party.) in 1927. Even the diplomatic relations between the two countries had been severed. Chiang needed a rapprochement with Stalin if China were to survive its war against imperialist Japan.
He did not have to look far in China’s diplomatic corps for similar spirits. Chiang’s intimate advisors of Soviet affairs, such as Jiang Tingfu and Sun Ke, long favored the close linkage and possible cooperation between China and the Soviet Union.76 Groundwork for a new relationship with the Soviet Union had already been laid. On October 5th, 1932, China and the Soviet Union had normalized bilateral relations. Chiang had wasted little time in cultivating this relationship with Stalin. A
proposal for the signing of a Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact had even been mentioned during the normalization of bilateral relations between the two countries in 1932. However, the Soviet Union turned down the proposal by responding that the first step was to establish the diplomatic relations between the two and further cooperation or treaties might be discussed later on.77
The Soviet Union certainly had its own concerns that precluded too rapid a rapprochement with Chiang’s China. First, the Soviet Union was unwilling to be tied to a Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, which might lead them to be entangled in an imbroglio with Japan.something that Chiang must have hoped for in 1937, but Stalin desperately wanted to avoid while Hitler’s war machine became more menacing by the day. The signing of such a kind of pact could mean that Moscow would lose its diplomatic flexibility when handling Japan. The Soviets were cautious enough not to be manipulated to confront Japan. Second, although they restored their diplomatic ties, the relations between the Soviet Union and Chiang’s Nationalist China were volatile rather than stable in the 1930s. First, ideologically the Soviet Union was hand in hand with the Chinese Communist Party. For the Soviets, ―the cause of Chinese communism was the cause of a greater Soviet Union.78 and the eventual triumph of communism over the capitalists. Second, mutual resentment and border issues between the two countries existed following since Tsarist times. In 1929, two years after Chiang Kai-shek's crackdown against China's Communists, his government moved against the Soviet Union owned Chinese Eastern
Railroad, a railway across Manchuria and in Russian ownership from Tsarist times. On May 27th, the Chinese arrested everyone at the Soviet consulate at Harbin, an important industrial city on the rail line in Manchuria. In July, Chiang Kai-shek and Zhang Xueliang agreed to seize the rail line, and, from August to October 1929, border clashes occurred between Soviet and Chinese troops. In November, Soviet Forces, supported by air, occupied the Manchurian city of Hailar, which was near the Soviet border.79 The Chinese then settled with the Soviet Union, agreeing to the restoration of Soviet control over the railroad and Soviet employees returning to their duties on the rail line. China also agreed to the release of all Soviet citizens that had been arrested and to the resumption of normal trade between China and the Soviet Union. Chiang Kai-shek summed up the matter by describing Soviet Russia as having continued Tsarist Russia’s aggressive policy toward China while Chiang was termed by the Soviet Union as the ―butcher of China., ―hangman. and ―agent of extreme reaction..80 Ideological differences now complicated a problem that had actually originated with Tsarist policies of imperialist (and capitalist) expansion into China at the end of the nineteenth century.
However, the Soviet Union did not completely abandon the idea of signing some kind of pact with China. For the safety of Siberia from Japanese expansionism, the government of the Soviet Union deemed that they should be alert and militarily prepared, strengthening the defense ability and protecting Soviet Russia’s border provinces. In addition, the Soviet Union was afraid of Japan’s threats to the Soviet
Union's client state, the People's Republic of Mongolia. Japan was attempting to win an agreement from Mongolia to accept Japanese military observers in their country and to allow Japan to station a military telegraph station there.81 When Mongolia rejected these requests, the Japanese press in Manchuria began calling Mongolia a ―dangerous country. and wrote that Japan intended to regulate all issues and settle all disputes with Mongolia by force of arms as it thought appropriate.82 Facing the lurking threat of attack on Mongolia or Siberia launched by Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union realized that an alliance with China could deter Japan from invading its Far Eastern territories or threatening its position in Mongolia.
Thus, the contact and negotiation concerning the treaty went on and off after 1932. Although negotiations of the treaty began early, little progress was made. In 1935, Chen Lifu, a member of standing committee of the KMT, resumed the negotiations with great intensity in the hope of securing external military support. Chen strongly favored a mutual security treaty, which was again turned down by the Soviet Ambassador Bogomolov.83 The Soviet Union had its own concerns: If the Soviet Union signed such a treaty, its strong heavy industry and military equipment would be helpful to intimidate and contain Japan from war against China; however, reversely, if the war between Japan and the Soviet Union erupted, the weak and backward China could not provide the same effective assistance to the USSR. Simply put, the risk of a Soviet-Chinese mutual security commitment out-weighed the reward following Moscow’s logic. Furthermore, Bogomolov considered that if the
Soviet Union signed such a mutual security treaty, it would lead the Soviets to fight against Japan automatically as soon as China and Japan officially declared war on each other, which appeared increasingly likely as the global economic depression pushed Japan’s leaders to adopt even more reckless policies.84 Obviously, a mutual security treaty did not serve the interest of the Soviet Union. Moscow expressed their preference of a mutual non-aggression treaty rather than a mutual collective security system.85 Therefore, the negotiations ended in stalemate over the exact nature of the ties that would bind the two states.
Moreover, there were other critical factors preventing the two countries from reaching an agreement. Mutual misunderstanding and distrust had always existed between China and the Russian Empire and continued to bedevil relations between China and the Soviet Union. First, the Soviet negotiators told Chiang that they hoped their military assistance would be fully used to counterattack Japan in the event of a Japanese invasion rather than to help Chiang liquidate the military force of Chinese Communists Party.86 The Soviets hoped to see the forming of alliance between the KMT and CCP, whereas for Chiang the purge of the Chinese Communists Party was his most important domestic policy goal. Second, the KMT held talks with Japan officially or clandestinely at times.87 This made the Soviets suspicious of the possibility that Chiang was likely to conclude a separate peace treaty with Japan, acquiescing in Japan’s occupation of certain parts of China and the legitimacy of the puppet regime in Manchuria. The Soviets further feared that China would then ally
with Japan, turning an anti-communist Asian spearhead against the Soviet Union’s communist regime and that Chiang’s proposal was a device to bargain with Japan, because Soviet Foreign Ministry’s telegram to Bogomolov read that ―Chiang Kai-shek is still making concessions to Japanese imperialist demands..88 The Soviets were concerned that perhaps such concessions under present circumstances were a result of flexibility in order to win more time until changes favorable to China would occur, and they were also worried that China might intend to reach a peaceful solution with Japan and for such a purpose the Chinese were negotiating with the Soviets.89 Bogomolov was instructed to find out Chiang’s real intentions before the Soviet Union could conclude any agreement with China. In fact, in 1935, Chiang’s government did convey proposals to the Japanese government for improving relations. The Japanese responded with three ―principles., on which improvement would need to be based: 1) China would have to give up maneuvering Western countries against Japan, 2) it would have to recognize Manchuria and recognize Japanese interests in northern China, and 3) it would need to take joint action with Japan against ―the anti-Japanese Communist movement. in China.90 But Chinese nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiment was boiling after Japan created the puppet Manchuria, so Chiang Kai-shek’s government did not wish to go so far as to recognize Manchuria. Therefore, no further agreement between China and Japan was made.
On the other hand, in the early 1930s, China was still suspicious of the Soviet influence and penetration of China’s Xinjiang Province by supporting warlord Sheng
Shi-cai.91 Moreover, the lightening negotiation and conclusion of the Soviet-Mongolia Mutual Assistance Treaty in 1936 shocked China and was viewed by the Chinese as the Soviets’ flouting of the sovereignty of China, which cast a shadow on Sino-Soviet relations.92 China considered this treaty as proof of the Soviet Union’s ambition of strengthening Soviet’s control and influence in Mongolia, which was officially under China’s sovereignty. In spite of Chinese people’s protest against such a violation of China’s sovereignty, Chiang also saw the positive aspects of the Soviet-Mongolia Mutual Assistance Treaty. He considered it an indication of Soviet determination to resist Japan’s expansion and noticed increasing skirmishes along the Outer Mongolia and Manchuria borders.93 Therefore, Chiang did not allow this event to influence the secret Sino-Soviet negotiations.94
Chiang’s central government, in Xingjiang Province, China's most western land, a desert region just east of the Soviet Union's Kazakhstan.
92 When Hirota referred to Chiang ―the Principle of the Three Sino-Japanese Bargaining Negotiations., Chiang showed the ambiguity of whether to accept the treaty or not. The Soviet government in Feb, 1937, decided to conclude a covenant directly with Mongolia government no matter how Chiang’s attitude towards the Japanese recommendation. See Gerard Friters, Outer Mongolia and Its International Position: 203.
93 Jiang Zongton Milu, vol. 11: 210.
94 He, Jun, ―Lun 1929-39 Nian de Zhongsu Guanxi. [On Sino-Soviet relations 1929-39], Master’s thesis, Nanking University (1986):125.
95 Sun, Ke, Zhong Su Guanxi [Sino-Soviet Relations]:16.
96 Bogomolov to Foreign Ministry, July 26, 1937, DSFP, 1937, vol. 20: 405.
97 Ibid.393-394, Bogomolov to Foreign Ministry, July 19, 1937.
98 Republican China Wartime Diplomacy, vol. 2: 280.
99 Fallin, Soviet Peace Efforts on the Eve of World War II (September 1938-August 1939) Documents and Records, Novosti Press Agency Publishing House (1973): 45.
100 See Soviet Volunteers in China: 1925-1945: Articles and Reminiscences, Moscow: Progress Publishers (1980).
101 Anatolii Demin & Vladimir Kotel’nikov, Soviet Bombers in China, Aviatsiiai Kosmonavtika (3.1999), trans. George M. Mellinger, available at http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/George_Mellinger/soviet_bombers_in_china.htm (accessed January 10, 2009).
102 Sun, Ke, Zhongsu Guanxi [Sino-Soviet Relations]: 513-514.
103 Shao, Li-zi, ―Chushi Sulian Huiyi. [Reminiscences on Being Ambassador in the Soviet Union] in Renwu [People], Vol. 1 (1983): 165-173.
104 The British Prime Minister Halifax in 1930s did not want to be drawn into war with Japan and considered alignment with China would be of little value. See Stephen L. Endicott, Diplomacy and Enterprise: British China Policy, 1933-1937, Vancouver: Manchester University Press and University of British Columbia Press (1975): 231.
105 Japan won a victory over Russia in the Russia-Japanese War, which broke out in 1904. See Dorothy Perkins, Japan Goes to War: A Chronology of Japanese Military Expansion from the Meiji Era to the Attack on Pearl Harbor (1868-1941), Diane Publishing (1997): 10.
106 See Weigesiji (transliteration from Russian), ed., Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History], vol. 3. Dalian, P.R.China: Foeign Language College (1979): 896.
107 Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 11: 68.
108 Changkufeng incident was a clash during the summer of 1938 between the Soviet and the Japanese military forces at the Soviet-Korean border. Many high-ranked Chinese leader including Zhou Fuohai believed that it was time for the Soviets to intervene. See Zhou, Fuohai Riji [Diary of Zhou Fuo-hai], Hong Kong: Chuangken Chubanshe (1955): 138.
109 Alvin D. Coox, the Anatomy of a Small War: The Soviet-Japanese Struggle for Changkufeng/Khasan, 1938, London: Greenwood Press (1977): 283.
China endeavored to break the ice of Sino-Soviet negotiation again when Sino-Japanese negotiation went nowhere in 1937. The ensuing Marco Polo Bridge Incident in July 7th, 1937 marked the complete ending of the prospect of Sino-Japanese reconciliation. Chiang changed his non-resistance policy and turned to the Soviet Union for help. Since Chiang decided to resist the Japanese army, Soviet military supplies became more crucial than ever.95 He urged the Soviet Union to supply weapons to China. Chiang indicated that weapon supply and the signing of the Sino-Soviet treaty could be conducted separately, and under current circumstance the Soviet Union should first meet his urgent need of weapons in face of Japan’s aggression.96 He insisted that military supply did not have to be linked with
any alliance commitments and that the detailed negotiations and the final signing of the treaty could take place later. However, Bogomolov persisted on a more formal Sino-Soviet non-Aggression Treaty and one that must include a guarantee to the Soviets that China would not secretly strike a deal with Japan against Communist Soviet Union.as a prerequisite for any Soviet military supply to China.97 Stalin likely believed that it would be too dangerous for the Soviet Union to supply the weapons to China without signing such a mutual non-aggression treaty. In order to obtain the military assistance from Moscow, Chiang had no choice but to accept Bogomolov’s suggestion unconditionally. The domestic demand for resistance, the Japanese occupation of Peking and Tientsin, and the Western powers’ lukewarm attitude all weakened Chiang’s bargaining position vis-a-vis Moscow.
Soviet Military Aid
In August 1937 the Soviet Union and China signed the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and Mutual Assistance. In March 1938, Stalin granted China a credit of 50 million dollars for the purchase of military equipment and from 1938 to 1939 China was granted new credits from the Soviets, which amounted to 50 million dollars.98 Under the agreement, in 1938 China obtained approximately 600 Soviet-built aircraft, 1,000 guns and howitzers, 8,000 machine guns.99 Along with the military supplies, there also arrived Soviet military attaches. In addition, the Soviets approved ―Operation Zet., a Soviet volunteer air force.two years before a similar squadron of American volunteers formed under Claire Chenault, the more
famous ―Flying Tigers.. In this secret operation, the Soviet Union dispatched their latest combat aircraft along with Soviet air and ground crews, advisors and technicians to China, which helped to rebuild the Chinese air force. The first group of Soviet airmen arrived at Alma-Ata on October 21, 1937, en-route to China, consisting of 447 servicemen and by early February 1939 there were 712 Soviet airmen serving in China, nominally on a voluntary basis.100 The Soviet pilots, working as Soviet air force volunteers, operated their aircraft in Nanjing, Wuhan, Nanchang and Chongqing, fighting against the Japanese air force.101 The Soviet support no doubt not only improved the Chinese military capability, but also encouraged the morale of the Chinese people. After 1939, the Chinese people were more confident than before, because they knew that they did not fight alone. Since the signing of the Non-aggression and Mutual Assistance Treaty of 1937, Chiang and his top advisors all banked on the idea of eventual Soviet direct participation in the war against Japan. Chiang Kai-shek attempted to talk Stalin into letting his Red Army get involved in the war. Though the Soviet Union showed little tangible evidence of becoming further involved in the war and distrust between the two countries always remained, Stalin did grant China a third loan of $150 million, at an interest rate of 3 percent, which was to be used between 1939 and 1941.102 By now the Soviet Union had granted China a total of $250 million, by far the largest amount of financial assistance that China had received from a power. In accordance with the terms of the financial assistance, a fourth purchase list for Soviet military equipment
was drawn up. But the Soviets had slowed down the process of military procurement by the Chinese buyers, perhaps as a gesture towards improving Soviet-Japanese relations as war clouds darkened between Germany and the Soviet Union. In December 1940, 300 truckloads of Soviet military aid finally arrived at Xinjiang Province of China.103
Reasons for Alliance Partners
Why did the U.S. and Britain show little interest in assisting China in the 1930s? Why did the Soviet Union eventually agree to a mutual assistance and security pact with Nationalist China? In the 1930s Britain had no desire to antagonize Japan, and few in Britain predicted an imminent conflict between Japan and any of the Western powers any time soon. In the early 1930s the U.S. and Japan had cordial relations, and no one could have predicted that the economic depression would push Japan to preemptively attack Pearl Harbor and plunge their nations in war. If the Anglo-American powers had provided military assistance to China in the 1930s, they would have offended Japan and dragged themselves immediately into a war, which did not serve their national interests as long as Japan could be contained by diplomacy.104 Thus, there was little wonder in Washington or London as to why the US and Britain declined to give substantial support to China, when diplomacy and later when diplomacy failed economic sanctions might alter Japanese policy without war.
In contrast, the Soviet Union was geographically much closer to Japan than other
Occidental countries. Plus, there were historical resentments between Japan and Russia, which were seeded in Russia’s humiliating defeat in Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and Japanese intervention in Russian Civil War (1918-1921).105 Furthermore, the Soviet Union could feel the pressure and sense the aggression of Japan after Japan moved to annex Manchuria in 1931, so near the Soviet border territory. After Hitler’s Germany unleashed World War II in Europe, the Soviet Union intended to use China to deter a potential Japanese invasion of Siberia, so it could avoid a two-front war. While preventing Japan from invading its own territory became a priority for Stalin, ideology, which had previously kept Chiang and Stalin from reaching an agreement, was put on the backseat. Stalin considered seriously Chiang’s proposal of forming an alliance and finally signed the treaty, even though Chiang’s Nationalist China was ideologically anti-communist.
However, it was a long and difficult process for China and the Soviet Union to reach a final agreement on the Sino-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, which marked the beginning of the Soviet assistance to China. After the agreement was reached, the Chinese government attempted to persuade the Soviet Union several times to go beyond its letter and to intervene directly in the war against Japan that began in 1937. But the Soviet Union was only willing to give material assistance to China and reluctant to participate in the war physically. From 1937 to 1941 Stalin sought to preserve the Red Army intact in Europe, facing the possibility of a German invasion on the western front. On the other hand, he never refused Chiang’s plea for direct
military intervention outright. He was concerned that a direct refusal might push China to settle with Japan and that both might eventually turn against the USSR. Thus, Stalin adopted an ambiguous diplomacy towards China.
Instead, Stalin gave Chiang an illusion that the probability of direct Soviet military intervention was high and that he might be waiting for an opportune time to intervene. At Chiang’s repeated request, Stalin explained to Chiang that it was not because that he was reluctant to dispatch the Red Army to aid China but that the complicated international situation hindered him from doing so.which was true. Stalin indicated that if he dispatched the troops against Japan when Japan had not invaded the Soviet Union, he would rouse the universal anti-Soviet Communist sentiment especially from the major Western powers because the major Western powers were still hostile to the Soviet Communist regime and would view a Soviet attack on Japan as aggression and ambition to communize China.106 Stalin’s prediction of the Western powers’ response was also probably accurate. However, Stalin did not lock the door of potential Soviet direct intervention. He slyly hinted that if China could persuade the U.S., Britain, and France into the ―anti-aggressor camp. proposed by the Soviet Union he would consider Soviet entry into the war.107 Apparently, the U.S. and Britain would not act against Japan at that moment, thus, such an ―anti-aggressor camp. in 1937 was impossible to form. As long as Japan had not declared war on the U.S. and Britain, there would be no common alliance and coalition war with China against Japan.
Events also contributed to Chiang’s aspirations of closer cooperation with Moscow and the possibility of joint war against Japan. China’s hope for Soviet direct intervention was raised again in 1938 as a result of the ―Changkufeng incident..108 Chiang believed that it was a good pretext and perfect timing for the Soviet Union to ally with China, fighting against Japan. Actually there were numerous Soviet-Japanese border disputes in the 1930s. The border clash between Japan and the Soviet Union in Changkufeng, a group of hills west of Lake Khasan near the junction of borders of Manchuria, Korea and the Soviet Union in the summer of 1938, was the most bitter and involved the deployment of large forces by both Japan and the Soviet Union. Both sides deployed approximately 40,000 army personnel.109 Heavy casualties were inflicted on both sides.110 Chiang showed a keen interest in the border clash and repeatedly instructed the Chinese ambassador in Moscow to inquire about the Soviet attitude over the Changkufeng incident. Chiang expected to keep up military pressure on Japanese forces with the help of the Red Army so that Japan would not be able to transfer more troops from Manchuria to its Wuhan Campaign in central China.111 The Chinese Premier Kung also had a long talk with the top Soviet leaders. He tried to convince the Soviets that combined Soviet and Chinese military forces were able to crush the already weakened Japanese army and he also assured the Soviets that he was told by the German Defense Minister that Germany was not ready for war in two or three years and that neither should the Soviets worry about the hostility from other Western powers for attacking Japan
110 Ibid. 285, Japanese estimates: Soviets 1,200 killed and 4,300 wounded; Japanese 526 killed and 913 wounded. Soviet estimates: Soviets 236 killed, 611 wounded; Japanese 600 killed, and 2,500 wounded.
111 Qin, Xiaoyi, ed., Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major events in the Life of Former President Chiang], vol. 1: 238.
112 Kung’s conversation with Ganin, July 30, DSFP, 21: 410-411.
113 France is the Soviet ally in Europe. France pressured the Soviet for conciliation because France preferred a strong Soviet Russia in Europe to checking Germany rather than fighting Japan. See Memoir of Wellington Koo: vol. 1, 47.
114 Quoted from Blumenson Martin, ―the Soviet Power Play at Changkufeng., World Politics, vol. 12, no. 2, 1960.
115 Memoir of Wellington Koo: vol. 3: 170.
116 Henry Morganthau Papers, Book 138, Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, New York.
117 Qin, Xiaoyi, ed., Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major events in the Life of Former President Chiang], vol. 1:241.
118 Chiang, Kai-shek, Soviet Russia in China, New York: Noonday Press (1968): 91.
119 See Alexander Y. Kalyagin, Along Alien Roads, New York: East Asian Institute, Columbia University (1983): 9.
120 See Guo, Chang-lu, ―Causes and Repercussions of the Soviet-Germany Pact., Diplomatic Studies 5, no. 1 (September 1939): 38.
121 Nicholas R. Clifford, Retreat from China: British Policy in the Far East, 1937-1941, Seattle: University of Washington Press (1967): 133.
122 Memoir of Wellington Koo: vol. 3: 413-414.
123 Tensions between the Chinese army and Japanese troops stationed in Peking had been rising prior to July 1937. On July 7 and 8, 1937, Chinese and Japanese troops clashed near the Marco Polo Bridge.
124 Crowley, James B. ed. Japan’s Quest for Autonomy: National Security and Foreign Policy, 1930-1938, Princeton: Princeton University Press (1966): 330.
125 For Chiang’s thought on the escalation of the war, see Qin, Xiaoyi, ed. Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major events in the Life of Former President Chiang], 8 vols. Taibei (1978):vol. 1, 43.
126 Goldstein, Erik. The Washington Conference, 1921-22: Naval Rivalry, East Asian Stability and the Road to Pearl Harbor. Routledge (1994): 227.
127 Qin, Xiaoyi, ed. Zongtong Jianggong Dashi Changbian Chugao [Major events in the Life of Former President Chiang], vol. 1: 54.
128 Joseph C. Grew. Ten Years in Japan: A Contemporary Record from the Diaries and Private and Official Papers of Joseph C. Grew, United States Ambassador to Japan, 1932-42, New York: Simon and Schuster (1944):214.
129 Yuanhua Shi, Zhonghuamingguo Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History of Nationalist China], Shanghai: Shanghai Publisher (1994): 217.
130 Dorn, Frank, the Sino-Japanese War, 1937-1941: From the Marco Polo Bridge to Pearl
because they sided with China.112 Chiang also urged his Ambassador Koo in Paris to stop any attempts by France to pressure the Soviets for conciliation.113 In the border clashes, the Soviets clearly won the advantage, driving the Japanese from its territory. However, the incident did not escalate into a formal war. The clash at Changkufeng remained a border dispute and was quickly settled. The authorities in Tokyo were not prepared for a full-scale war with the Soviet Union. Most of their military forces were absorbed in the Wuhan Operation in central China in 1938. Japan could not afford to wage war against the Soviet Far Eastern forces and the Chinese armed forces simultaneously.
Soviet border resistance against Japan, first, was to protect its own territory from Japanese encroachment, second, was to ―exploit such an opportunity to test Japanese military capability rather than to make a military commitment against Japan..114 Soviet military strength displayed at the border skirmish also sent the signal to the authorities in Tokyo not to recklessly provoke a Soviet-Japanese War. In fact, neither side was prepared for a full-scale war. The Soviets preferred to see the Japanese military bogged down in China. On August 12, 1938 the Soviet Union and Japan signed a truce. The Changkufeng incident was the turning point, through which Chiang Kai-shek and his Nationalist China recognized the true intentions of the Soviet Union. The illusion of the direct Soviet military involvement soon fell apart. For Chiang, it was not too difficult to revise expectations, since distrust and suspicion never disappeared between the two allies. The Soviets doubted Chiang’s
determination of strong resistance and suspected his inclination to accept Japanese peace overtures.115 When Sun Ke advised Chiang to fully cooperate with the Soviets and adopt a real pro-Soviet policy in hope of getting the Soviets military involved.116 Chiang rejected his idea. He did not think that China should completely tie its future with the Soviet Union by giving up its links with other Western powers, such as Britain and the United States.117
Relations between China and the Soviet Union altered course again in 1939. In 1939, negotiation between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany reached a climax. On August 23rd, 1939, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany concluded the Treaty of Non-Aggression with Secret Protocol when France and Britain planned to attack Germany. Following the Nazi-Soviet pact and the German-Soviet invasion of Poland, China clearly saw through Stalin’s intentions. Witnessing how Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union wiped Poland of the world map, Chiang Kai-shek began to worry about the possibility that a Soviet-Japanese alliance might conspire to carve up China into pieces.118 Further, the Soviet Union had slowed down the process of China’s military procurement, partly because of China’s lack of support in the League of Nations over the Soviet invasion of Finland in December 1939.
With the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union coming perilously close to Leningrad and Moscow, the Soviets opted for a Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, which included that the two countries recognized each other’s puppet regimes over
areas once governed by China, Manchuria and Outer Mongolia. As a result of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, which marked the final Soviet betrayal of China, the Soviet Union’s aid to China ceased in 1941. Even had no such pact been signed between the Soviet Union and Japan, because of the dire military situation, it was unlikely that such aid would have continued anyway. The pact effectively allowed the Soviets to redeploy troops from the Far Eastern command to Russia, just in time to launch a winter counter-offensive.
Admittedly, prior to the Western allies’ assistance to China, the Soviet Union provided the largest amount of foreign aid to China. It prevented the Japanese from occupying the whole China by ―Blitz Krieg. strategy. From 1937 to 1941, the Soviet Union sent altogether 904 airplanes and many other needed arms and munitions to China and at the height of Soviet involvement in China, there were more than three thousand Soviet military personnel participating in the Chinese resistance war.119 From the Soviet contribution to war-time China, it can be concluded that there was no selfless devotion and assistance from the USSR and that the changing face of Soviet diplomacy was firmly guided by its own national interests and security concern. It was a good lesson for sentimentalists to learn that ―there are only interests and no sentiments in international politics..120
Why did China turn to the Soviet Union for help instead of other powers in the late 1930s? Though Japan occupied the Hainan Islands at the beginning of 1939,
which threatened French Indochina and British Southeast Asia, it did not create a favorable condition for China to reach a Sino-British alignment or Sino-Franco cooperation in 1939.121 Hainan and Southeast Asia were parts of French and British oversea interests. However, Japan’s move in 1939 was not a direct national security threat to French or British own territory integrity. The British and French, who paid most of their attention to Europe, were obviously showing little interest in a Sino-Anglo or Sino-French alliance in the 1930s.122 Therefore, the Soviet Union, whose own territory was seriously threatened by Japan, became China’s only choice during this period.
What caused the Soviet Union to support the Republic of China in the first place? It was the common threat from Japan that made the two countries move closer to each other. Did ideology really matter in the formation of a Sino-Soviet alliance? When common threat was imminent and direct national interest was threatened, ideology could be less pivotal in the formation of an alliance. Stalin had to put the survival of Chinese Communist Party at the backburner, when the Soviets’ own border was not secure. Even though ideologically Stalin and Chiang were not real friends and distrust and suspicion between the two never ended, the two countries were not hindered from forming the temporary alliance. The Soviet made use of China, its neighbor at hand, as a key ally, to deflect Japan from invading its own country. Likewise, the Western allies’ changing attitude and their final delivery of military and material assistance to China after they declared war on Japan were also guided by
their own interests. They realized that Chinese could draw away a significant number of Japanese military force on the battlefield in a protracted war and weaken Japan’s ability to defend its conquests in Asia Pacific Theater.
What caused the Soviet Union to alter its alliance preference from first allying to oppose a threatening power like Japan to appeasing it later? When Japan’s ambition of expansion in the Far East was apparent from 1937-1939 and Soviet borders in the east violated, Soviet leaders decided to ally with China to deter Japan. After the border clashes and the signing of truce, the Soviets saw Japan display no interest of escalating the border disputes, which meant no direct interests were being threatened. Moscow then started to slow down its cooperation and military aid to China and became preoccupied with the looming threat from Nazi Germany. Clearly after June 1941, it was the vulnerability of the Soviet Union that ensued after Nazi Germany’s invasion. Stalin had no choice. His back was truly against a wall and the salvation of Moscow lay in the reserves of Soviet forces in eastern Siberia. Some arrangement with Japan, contrary to China’s interests, had to be made.
Diplomatic Relations between China and USA
Statesmen have long understood that diplomacy is a flexible tool, useful in pursuit of a state’s interests. Increasingly in the years 1938-1939 and especially after the conclusion of Nazi-Soviet Pact, China based its survival more on the United States rather than the Soviet Union. China’s diplomatic efforts went beyond building a partnership, and as with the Soviet Union, sought to entice the United States into a common conflict with Japan. However, at first the U.S. did not give China reason to hope in this regard. No formal alliance was established between China and the U.S. before Japan’s attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor.
The U.S. policy makers pursued several different diplomatic policies in each phase of the Second Sino-Japanese War that reflected complex and changing developments in the international arena and the domestic political environment in the United States. The U.S. policies towards China fit into four phases: first, ―non-interference. from 1937-1939; second, ―strong word but no action. from 1939-1940; third, ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan. from 1940-1941; fourth, ―allying with China against Japan. in the wake of Japan’s attack on the United States on December 7, 1941. The U.S. (and other Western powers) policy of ―non-interference. at the outset of the Second Sino-Japanese War to some extent
enticed Japan into behaving aggressively in China and arguably convinced Japanese policy makers to risk an invasion of China in 1937. The later U.S. policy of ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan. and ―allying with China against Japan. not only strengthened Chinese military capability against the Japanese aggressor, but also boosted China’s international standing.
The U.S. policies towards China certainly evolved with changing circumstances. Did that mean that the U.S. policy goal with regard to China changed as well? Overall, the goals of the United States with respect to China remained consistent, only the means in achieving goals changed. The goal of the U.S. policy makers was basically twofold throughout the 1930s and 1940: 1) secure economic interests in China and East Asia in general, and 2) avoid a direct confrontation with Japan, at least until a time of the choosing of the United States.after rearmament of US forces was completed sometime in 1943. These goals remained consistent during the whole period of the Second Sino-Japanese War from 1937 to 1945.
US Policy to China in 1937
On July 7, 1937, the Japanese army provoked the Marco Polo Incident, commencing its all-out invasion of China’s territory.123 In spite of several cease-fire agreements, fighting was not contained. The Japanese took the incident as an opportunity to raise their demands on China and insisted on July 11 that the Hebei Province ban all anti-Japanese activities.124 The KMT’s reaction to the incident was uncompromising this time, unlike in previous years.125 China declared war on Japan
officially in the wake of the Marco Polo Incident. Chiang’s decision for war was a gamble based on his belief on international power politics in the Far East. First, he believed that the U.S. and its Western allies had significant interests in the Far East, which meant war between Japan and the U.S. was inevitable. Second, both China and the U.S. had signed the Nine-Power Treaty at the Washington Naval Conference in 1922, which affirmed that Chinese territorial and administrative integrity should be maintained.126 Thus, they had mutually incurred an obligation to prohibit Japan from violating existing international boundaries. Third, Chiang Kai-shek argued that even though the U.S. and other Western powers were initially ambivalent about siding with China against Japan in the summer of 1937, ―if we can resist for three or five years, I predict that there will be new international developments (meaning they would eventually change their attitude and side with China against Japan)..127 In this, Chiang was correct, although as events turned out, he would have to wait for five years, not three or four as he would have preferred.
After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, the Chinese Nationalist government organized its military forces to resist the Japanese forces in Manchuria, meantime the government attempted to seek sympathy and assistance from the international community, appealing to the U.S. and Britain to keep Japan from further aggression. From July 21-26, 1937 Chiang Kai-shek held interviews with ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, asking them to put pressure on Japan. Initially, the U.S. pursued a ―non-interference. policy in the Far East. Secretary of
State Cordell Hull refused China’s calling for intervention and expressed that the U.S. would keep its ―friendly and just. attitude to both China and Japan and he hoped that both the states would learn how to ―restrain themselves..128 Furthermore, the U.S. objected to Britain’s suggestion that the U.S. should ally with Britain to mediate between China and Japan. Instead, Secretary of State Cordell Hull only made an official statement on July 26 that expressed Washington’s longing for maintenance of peace in the wake of Marco Polo Incident.129 By August 1937, Japanese forces and the Chinese forces were clashing near Shanghai, the largest and most industrialized city in China, whose importance for the Chinese central government was enormous.130 The war around Shanghai went very badly for the Chinese forces, and soon Japanese forces broke into the city. Chiang Kai-shek believed that the Western powers would surely intervene at this juncture in order to prevent the collapse of China and total victory for Japan.131 His belief was based on a fundamental miscalculation that Britain and the United States would not permit Shanghai to become a battlefield since Shanghai was vested with foreign interests and Japanese occupation of Shanghai would tremendously damaged the U.S. and British trade interests in China. But to Chiang’s disappointment, the U.S. still proved unwilling to take sides and hoped to maintain a good relationship with Japan by pursuing a ―non-interference. policy.132
Harbor, New York: Macmillan Co. (1974):74.
131 Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 9: 98.
133 Xiangxiang Wu, Dierci Zhongri Zhanzhengshi [History of the Second Sino-Japanese War], Taiwan Comprehensive Monthly Periodical: 237.
134 Wellington Koo Memoirs: 610.
136 Borg, Dorothy & Oamoto, S. Pearl Harbor as History, Japanese-American Relations 1931-1941, New York: Columbia University Press (1973): 173.
137 Borg, Dorothy, the United States and the Far Eastern Crisis of 1933-1938, Cambridge: Harvard University Press (1964): 76-77.
138 See Hull, Cordell, Memoirs of Cordell Hull, vol. 2, New York: Macmillan Co. (1984): 159.
139 Straus U. the Anguish of Surrender: Japanese POWs of World War II, Seattle & London: University of Washington Press (2003): 31.
140 George Washington’s Farewell Address (1976), http://usinfo.state.gov/usa/infousa/facts/democrac/49.htm
141 Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949], Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publisher (2004): 127.
142 See Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 9: 115.
143 Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 152.
144 See Shengmao Yang, Meiguo Waijiao Zhengce Shi 1775-1989 [US Diplomatic History 1775-1989], Beijing: People’s Publisher (1991): 337.
145 U. S. Department of States, the Foreign Relation of the United Statess: Japan 1931-41 (hereafter cited as FRUS: Japan 1931-41), Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943. vol. 1: 504.
146 U.S. Department of State, Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, 1931.1941, (hereafter cited as Peace and War: USFR) Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (1943): 384.87
148 Details of the Panay Incident, see Hamilton D. Perry, the Panay Incident: Prelude to Pearl Harbor, Macmillan Publishing Company (1969).
149 Joseph C. Grew. Ten Years in Japan: 127.
150 Shengmao Yang, Meiguo Waijiao Zhengce Shi 1775-1989 [US Diplomatic History 1775-1989]: 415.
151 See Layton, E. & Pineau, R. And I Was There: Pearl Harbor and Midway-Breaking the Secrets, Naval Institute Press (2006):62.
152 FRUS: Japan 1931-41, vol. 1: 824.
153 Ibid. 226.
154 Peace and War: USFR: 506.
155 See Johnson to Secretary of States, July 27, 1940, Foreign Relations of the United States,
After the collapse of Chinese defenses in Shanghai, the Brussels conference was convened where China urged the major powers to implement economic sanctions against Japan. Yet, neither the U.S. nor Britain was ready to undertake such harsh
and provocative measures against Japan or assume their responsibility as guarantors of the League of Nations and the international community that it represented. They refused to meet China’s request. In September 1937, Japan expanded the war to another vital coastal city by terror bombing the Chinese capital of Nanking, and the Imperial Japanese navy then proceeded to blockade Canton province.133 At this juncture, China did gain a little more sympathy from members of the League of Nations.but no action followed. The League of Nations finally passed a resolution, which criticized Japan for its violations of treaty obligations.134 But sympathy was not translated into action by individual member, and no one gave serious consideration to sanctions against Japan as long as the United States and Great Britain remained on the sidelines. Despite this, Chiang Kai-shek pushed for joint sanctions on oil, iron, and steel imports to Japan from the United States and other major Western powers.135 In November 1937, shortly before the Nine-Power Conference, British Prime Minister Chamberlain gave his opinion that it would be totally wrong to propose economic sanctions or military pressure against Japan at the Nine-Power Conference if they wanted peace instead of intensifying the dispute.136 With slightly more willingness to do something, President Roosevelt encouraged other powers to consider sanctions but never committed the United States to any action.137 Under domestic pressures for peace, President Roosevelt announced that U.S. flagged ships would not transport arms to China or to Japan and because of this announcement, 19 planes purchased by the Chinese government that were being transported on the USS
Wichita were subsequently removed from the ship.138 The resolution of the Nine-Power Conference made clear that the U.S. and other Western powers should promote the conciliation and secure the cooperation of the Japanese government in order to restore the peace in the Far East. Neither the U.S. nor the other Western powers were willing to take practical action to prevent Japan from continued occupation of Chinese territory, at least not as long as their own national security and interests were not seriously threatened.
Reasons for US Not Ready for Sino-US Alliance in 1937
In the decade preceding Japan’s attack on China in 1937, and immediately following the attack, the main military assistance provided to China came neither from the US nor Britain, both of which were eventual war-time allies of China in the 1940s. The condemnation of Japan’s action and moral support from the U.S. and Britain had no consequential impact on Japan’s action in 1937.
Why did the U.S. and Britain show no interest in providing China with military support or economic sanctions following Japan’s aggression in 1937? First, Britain was busy in dealing with Nazi Germany, and the U.S. public since the end of the Great War showed little interest in international affairs.139 Isolationism prevailed in the U.S. In fact, America’s isolationism was deeply-rooted in its history. As early as 1796, George Washington in his Farewell Address pointed out that it was unwise to ―interweave our destiny with that of any part of Europe….140 George Washington’s remark was regarded by many Americans, at different times and in different places, as
the baseline for U.S. foreign policy. Isolationists in the United States opposed the adoption of internationalism diplomacy. They believed that America’s geographical location with two oceans as natural barriers, which protected America from being attacked, gave the United States the option of staying out of conflicts between other states. The prevalence of isolationism had certain influence on the making of the U.S. diplomatic policy.
Another reason for American and British unwillingness to impose sanctions on Japan or lend material assistance to China reflected a growing tendency in the 1930s toward appeasement of potential adversaries. At that time the policy of appeasing potential adversaries made sense. Neither the U.S. nor Britain could have foreseen the Japanese attack on their respective territories in Asia and the Pacific in 1941. If they had adopted sanctions against Japan and given assistance to China, they believed that they would have offended Japan and dragged themselves into a war in the Far East, when their main strategic concerns lay elsewhere.141 Appeasement prevailed in the international community in the 1930s and effected not only British and American policy toward Japan, but also Germany as well. The world witnessed how Chamberlain appeased Hitler’s re-annexation of the Rhineland in 1936 and Mussolini’s invasion of Ethiopia had likewise gone unchecked expansion in Europe. In the face of Hitler’s rapacious annexation of Austria in 1938 and the Sudetenland the same year, Britain and France chose to appease Nazi Germany in exchange for temporary peace. Chiang understood that Britain’s appeasing Germany in Europe
meant that the U.S. and Britain could also appease Japan in the Far East.142
A final reason for US unwillingness to more directly support China lay in its own narrowly defined interests in East Asia. America insisted on its ―Open Door. policy to allow U.S. companies to compete in China. Japan, at the outset of the Second Sino-Japanese War, studiously staved off hurting Western imperialists’ trade interests in China so as to avoid direct confrontation with the U.S. and major Western powers. The Japanese government claimed that it would ensure the interests of all third parties in China. Thus, at that period America still held a wait-and-see attitude towards Japanese intentions in China. Furthermore, America had significant economic ties with Japan. Japan was one of the major export markets for the U.S. From 1932-37, American export to Japan accounted for 7.3-9.2% of total American export to the world.143 The American public opposed to the economic sanctions against Japan in favor of China, because the Japanese market was important to them, especially during 1937-38, when American economy was undergoing recession. Thus, there was no wonder why the U.S. and Britain neither gave substantial support to China, nor imposed any meaningful economic sanctions against Japan so as to choke off the Japanese war machine.
Washington held a wait-and-see attitude towards Tokyo, unwilling to alienate either the Chinese government or the Japanese government, and other Western powers followed suit. To some extent, U.S. ―non-interference. policy stoked Japan’s further aggression in China. Japan obtained manufactured goods and raw materials from its
trade with the U.S and these were used to bolster the Japanese war machine. From 1937-38, Japan’s imports from America accounted for 55% of what was needed by import to fuel Japan’s military forces and Japan also purchased nearly half of its oil imports from America.144
US Diplomacy to China in 1938
Japanese atrocities in China, and domestic politics in the United States, together began to cause a shift in U.S. policy. After 1938, the U.S. government began to adopt a ―tough word but no action. policy towards Japan. The State Department sent an official statement to Japanese Foreign Minister Hirota, officially voicing its condemnation of the Japanese bombing of Nanking and its disapproval of Japan’s cruel policy in China. This official statement marked the beginning of a shift in U.S. policy. The statement was clear ―This government holds the view that any general bombing of an extensive area wherein there resides a large populace engaged in peaceful pursuit is unwarranted and contrary to principles of law and of humanity..145
After the official statement, President Roosevelt’s ―Quarantine Speech. in Chicago on October 5, 1937 was another sign of his administration’s changing policy towards Japan. Though in the speech he never mentioned Japan, he was obviously talking about Japan. In his speech, he said, ―Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air. In times of so-called peace ships are being attacked and sunk by submarines without cause or notice..146 He
also indicated that, ―the will for peace on the part of peace-loving nations must express itself to the end that nations that may be tempted to violate their agreements and the rights of others will desist from such a cause..147 Not only Japan, but also China regarded Roosevelt’s ―Quarantine Speech. in Chicago as an indication that the U.S. was on the verge of taking action to coerce and restrain Japan. However, in reality, following the official statement and ―Quarantine Speech., the government still refused to implement tough action against Japan due to strong domestic opposition from the public.
On 12 December 1937, Japanese warplanes sank the U.S. Navy's gunboat Panay on the Yangtze River, killing three Americans and wounding nearly thirty. In the daylight attack, many of the escaping survivors were repeatedly machine-gunned. Three Standard Oil tankers being convoyed by the Panay were also sunk.148 Chinese leaders believed that it provided a reasonable pretext for the U.S. to get involved in the Second Sino-Japanese conflict. The U.S. diplomats were anxious to see what would happen between the U.S. and Japan. Ambassador Grew privately recalled that it was the sinking of the Maine in Havana Harbor that provoked the Spanish-American War. Would the war between the U.S. and Japan break out over the sinking of the Panay?149 The Tokyo government quickly responded with an apology, an offer of indemnity, and claimed that it was just an unfortunate case of mistaken identity. Nevertheless, President Roosevelt considered an embargo and possible naval action, congress and press opinion, on the other hand, concluded that
no vital American interests were involved.150 The Panay Incident might have aggravated the difficult relationship between the two countries, but it did not motivate the U.S. government to take serious action against Japan.151 The incident ended up by the U.S. acceptance of a Japanese official apology.
US Policy to China after the “New Order”, 1938-1940
Japanese actions toward the end of 1938, however, undid any understanding that resulted from the ―Panay Incident.. The Japanese government’s declared intent to establish a ―New Order. in East Asia annoyed and worried the U.S. The so called ―New Order. appeared to equate to a Japanese monopoly of China’s market and raw resources. The ―New Order. pronouncement was a direct flouting of the U.S. ―Open Door. policy that safeguarded its interests in China. Americans, particularly the Republican backed China trade lobby, were enraged by Japan’s trampling on U.S. interests in China. Washington’s foreign policy began to harden toward Japan.the ―Panay Incident. was fresh in the minds of the public and for Roosevelt an election loomed in November and its party needed to win sits in Congress to push through his domestic programs. . Roosevelt pointed out that the U.S. government would not approbate any state to establish the so-called ―New Order. beyond its own sovereignty territory.152 From then on, the U.S. policy shifted to ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan..
US Financial Aid to China from 1938-1940
Although taking a tougher stand from the end of 1938, the U.S. government still
thought the use of force against Japan was not in the national interest, but the government did decide to offer financial and military assistance to China. In 1939, the U.S. government granted $25 million U.S. dollars to China as part of ―Tung Oil Loan..153 The U.S. government made a statement in 1940 that it didn’t recognize Wang Jingwei’s Regime, a Japanese-supported collaborationist puppet government in Nanking and in the meantime America gave another $20 million loan to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Government in order to keep China at war with Japan.154 However, compared to a sizeable US loan to Finland without security and US $250 million loan to the Soviet, the US $45 million loan to China was meager.155
Diplomatic Papers, 1940 (hereafter cited as FRUS Diplomatic Papers), vol. 4: 409.
156 See ―Comments on Current Events, October 5-18, 1937., microfilm reel, no. 2, U.S. Military Intelligence Reports: China, 1911-1941, Frederick, Md.: University Publications of America (1983).
157 See Mchugh to Holocomb, April 12, Box 1, f-1, James McHugh Papers, Cornell University Library, Ithaca, New York.
159 Details of the termination of the US-Japan Commercial Treaty, see Peace and War: USFR: 87-97.
160 Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 205.
161 See Wang Shijie Riji, [Diary of Wang Shi-jie], ed. by Modern History Institute, Academica Sinica. Taibei: Modern History Institute (1990): August 26, 2:140.
162 See Hu to Chiang and Kung via Foreign Ministry, August 29, Chen Guang-pu Papers, Columbia University, New York, Box 3, F-H.
163 Ibid, Box 3, F-H.
164 See Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 234,
165 See Jiang Zongtong Milu, vol. 13: 159.
166 For Chiang’s plan and his interview with Johnson, See Nov. 18, FRUS Diplomatic Papers, 1940, vol. 4: 693-694.
167 German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop notified Chinese ambassador Chen Jie German’s desire of friendly relations with China and Ribbentrop offered to mediate between China and Japan and also expressed the hope that China would join the Tripartite Alliance. See China Wartime Diplomacy, Taibei: Party History Committee (1981), vol. 3, Part 2: 678-680.
168 FRUS: Japan 1931-41, vol. 2: 185.
169 Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 307.
170 Xiangxiang Wu, Dierci Zhongri Zhanzhengshi [History of the Second Sino-Japanese War]: 820.
171 Ibid. 833
172 Ibid. 854.
173 Ibid. 878.
174 See Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 325
175 Ibid. 352.
176 Deheilan, Yaerta, Bocitan Huiyijilu Zhaibian [Selective Records of Tehran, Yalta, and Potsdam Conference], Shanghai: Shanghai People’s Publisher (1974): 448.
177 See Wenzhao Tao, Zhongmei Guanxi Shi, 1911-1949 [History of Sino-U.S. Relations: 1911-1949]: 275.
178 See Yuanhua Shi, Zhonghuamingguo Waijiaoshi [Diplomatic History of Nationalist China]:
Reasons for Willingness to Assist China
There were two major factors that motivated America to change its foreign policy to assist China during this period. First, the rivalry over trade and markets in Asia-Pacific between the U.S. and Japan was intensified. Japan’s pronouncement of a ―Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere. revealed Japan’s ambition to control the whole Asia Pacific region and shut the region off to foreign economic competitors. Japan’s ―Great East Asia New Order. defied the U.S. ―Open Door. policy. America’s interests in the Far East appeared threatened. Japan’s ambition exceeded America’s tolerance. This more than anything else motivated the U.S. to impose tough economic sanctions against Japan.
Second, Chiang’s decision to resist the Japanese all-out invasion and the resulting bogging down of Japanese forces in China, instead of a quick and cheap
victory, emboldened the United States to change its policy from acquiescing to Japan’s expansionism to assisting China. At the initial stage of the Second Sino-Japanese War, many in Washington seriously questioned whether or not China was capable of resisting the mighty Japanese war machine. American military observers in China in particular had serious doubts. The U.S. policy makers in Washington by the summer of 1938 took for granted that eventually China would be defeated.156
However, stubborn attitude of the Chinese people and the spirited resistance of Chinese military forces mired Japan into a protracted war in China. The U.S. government began to reevaluate China’s military capability and the survival of Chiang’s government and an independent China took on a new strategic importance in the Far East. Crucial to this shift in attitude in Washington was the first significant Chinese victory at Taierchuang (24 March-7 April 1938). 157 The Battle not only boosted Chinese morale but also American confidence in China. Top U.S. policy makers believed that, if supplied sufficiently, the Chinese forces could indeed conduct a successful resistance.158
With Japan’s continued prosecution of the war in China in 1939, the U.S. understood that the war in the Pacific with Japan was increasingly likely. But the U.S. government was still not well prepared for the war. For the U.S., Europe held priority over Asia. Due to the deteriorating situation in Europe (the Nazis seemed invincible in 1940), the U.S. attempted to avoid direct confrontation with Japan in
order to concentrate its military strength against Nazi Germany first. Unable to act with military forces and unwilling to accept Japanese hegemony in the Far East, the United States had to find an alternative to counter Japan. The ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan. policy aimed at containing Japan but postponing the timing of physical confrontation with Japan after the eruption of war in Europe.
The Forming of Sino-US Alliance, 1940-the End of WWII
Though in 1937 and for most of 1938, the Anglo-American powers showed little interests of involvement even when their oversea interests in Southeast Asia and the Far East were being threatened, China never gave up making efforts of prompting an possible China and Anglo-American powers alliance eventually. In 1939, the U.S. abolished the US-Japan Commercial Treaty, which was signed in 1911 between the U.S. and Japan. For the U.S. government, the termination of the treaty removed the legal obstacle to an embargo by the United States upon the shipment of materials to Japan.159 The Chinese did find comfort in the termination of the treaty, because for the Chinese the termination of the commercial treaty indicated a deterioration of the US-Japanese relations.160 However, China was still afraid that the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939 and the subsequent war in Europe would lead to British or Soviet appeasement of Japan at China’s Expense.161 The prospect of either British or Soviet appeasement of Japan caused China to shift its diplomatic efforts from the USSR to the United State in order to prevent such a devastating scenario.162 At all costs, Chiang and his advisors knew that they needed a strong ally to replace the support
received up until 1939 from Germany and the Soviet Union. Indeed, top Chinese policy makers expected that a complete breakup between the U.S. and Japan would come in the near future.163
US Military and Financial Aid to China & Sino-US Wartime Cooperation
China was actually happy to see the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact on September 27, 1940 among Germany, Italy, and Japan.164 Chiang Kai-shek viewed that the Tripartite Alliance definitely reduced Japan’s diplomatic flexibility and that a final conflict between Japan and the U.S. was unavoidable.165 Upon receiving news of the pact, Chiang pushed in earnest a comprehensive plan of a Sino-Anglo-American alliance.166 Although his plan was not completely fulfilled, Chiang successfully gained more assistance by playing his German card and Japan’s impending recognition of Wang’s puppet regime.167 Roosevelt did worry about a Chinese collapse and Japanese domination in the Far East. So he quickly granted China a $100 million loan in October, 1940.168
On March 11, 1941, Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act, making it a public law. It was viewed with by the Chinese as a definite departure from previous U.S. policy, and it included China in April as a nation to receive loans.169 In April 1941, the U.S. started its initial program of aiding China after the approval of Lend-Lease funds (Table 4.1):
Table 4.1-Initial Programming of Lend-Lease Funds for China: April 1941
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
War Department Procurement
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
Treasury Department Procurement
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . .
Grey Sheeting (yards)
Lubricating Oil (tons)
Diesel Oil (tons)
Source: Memo, Stimson for Currie, 22 Apr 41, sub: Aid Program to China Lend-Lease Act.
Though the initial approved Lend-Lease funds from the U.S. was less than T.V. Song, the Chinese Minister of Finance, proposed, it was a great contribution to the Chinese armed force, which were on the verge of collapse after several years of war.
Money helped Chiang procure much needed supplies for the Chinese military forces that were in the thick of the fight against the Japanese military, but soon he would also receive some direct military support from the United States although in an indirect way. Under the leadership of Claire Chennault, a retired Army Air Corps captain, the American Volunteer Group, nicknamed ―Flying Tigers., was formed in China to defend the Burma supply line to China in April 1941.170 ―Flying Tigers., though in the name of a private volunteer group, in reality was partly funded by the U.S. government.
The Pearl Harbor attack and the breakout of the Pacific War prompted the U.S. to switch from an ―assistance to China and restraint of Japan. policy to an ―allying with China against Japan. policy in order for the U.S. to win the war against Japan, and from the Chinese perspective, to help the Chinese government to rid their homeland of the Japanese aggressor. For the Chinese people, the dream of a Sino-U.S. alliance finally came true with the eruption of the Pacific War. China joined the United States as full-fledged wartime ally by declaring war on Japan, Germany and Italy.
The Second Sino-Japanese War had become part of the free world’s Anti-Fascist Crusade. America steadily increased its military assistance and cooperation with China. The U.S. established a China Theater at war command and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek was appointed as Allied Commander-in-Chief in the China Theater. A Chinese Expeditionary Army worked hand in hand with the U.S. forces to reopen the Burma Road, which was a pivotal supply line for China since all the major ports in mainland China were in the hand of Japan.171 Moreover, ―the Flying Tigers., being inducted into the U.S. Army Air Forces units in China in 1942, was no longer a private American volunteer group, and it was first designated the ―China Air Task Force., later renamed the 14th Air Force.172 China and the U.S. even strengthened their cooperation in terms of military intelligence. In 1943, an agency called ―Sino-US Special Technical Cooperation., whose mission included weather forecasting, collecting and decoding the enemy’s telegram and other information, and ruining the enemy’s military facilities in China, headquartered in Chongqing.173
Financially, the U.S. also enhanced its assistance to China. In January 1942, the Chinese Minister of Finance T. V. Soong and US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau signed a $50 million loan agreement between the two countries.174
Meanwhile, the U.S. helped China improving its image and international standing as a major non-Western ally in Asia against Japan. At the Arcadia Conference, held in Washington D.C. from December 22, 1942 to January 14, 1942, regardless of the opposition from Churchill, Roosevelt insisted that China should be listed as one of the four signatories of the Declaration by the United Nations.175 In November 1943, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s presence in Cairo Conference manifested that China became one of the four major powers in the world to participate in the decision-making among the anti-Fascism alliance bloc.176
The U.S. and China certainly strengthened their ties as a result of Pearl Harbor. However, did the U.S. really treat China as an equal wartime partner? From the Chinese perspective, there was much to be desired in their relationship with the U.S. ally. The material and financial assistance that China obtained from the U.S. was less than 5% of what the United Kingdom got from the U.S., 15% of what America offered to the Soviet Union.177 Moreover, the materials that America provided under the Lend and Lease to Britain and even to the Soviet Union were at their disposal the moment the ships anchored at the ports, while in contrast all aid to China was in reality under the control of General Joseph W. Stilwell, America’s representative and
top military advisor to China.178 Furthermore, China was excluded from the important Yalta Conference that dealt with strategic issues of vital importance.Roosevelt and Churchill, without Chiang’s participation, sacrificed the territory sovereignty of Shantung Province of China in exchange for Stalin’s agreement that ―Soviet troops shall enter into war again Japan on the side of the Allied in two or three months after Germany has surrendered and the war in Europe is terminated..179
179 See Protocol of Proceedings of Crimea (Yalta) Conference, available at http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/wwii/yalta.htm (accessed Feb 16, 2009).
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Why did China ultimately seek out the U.S. as a principal ally in its war against Japan? International politics in the 1930s was filled with uncertainties for China, as it was for all of the world’s nations. The Nazi-Soviet Nonaggression Pact in 1939 and the subsequent war in Europe made the Chinese worry about possible British or Soviet appeasement of Japan at China’s expense. In the summer of 1941, as a result of the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact, the Soviet Union was no longer a reliable ally and military supply source. China needed to seek a new ally now. The United States became the last hope. China believed that Japan’s expansion in China would eventually threaten U.S. interest in East Asia and trigger a conflict with the United States. Chinese diplomatic efforts were directed toward hastening such a conflict, which was extremely crucial to the forming of Sino-U.S. alignment and China’s survival after 1939. In December 7, 1941, the Japanese fulfilled China’s hopes by attacking Pearl Harbor.
Yet, even before Pearl Harbor, the United States began to increasingly support
China. What motivated the United States from altering its policy from non-intervention to one of more direct support of China against Japan? The answer to this question revolved around how Roosevelt and his policy advisors assessed the threats from Japan to U.S. interests. Though Japan was perceived as early as 1904 as a looming danger to U.S. interests in Asia, ever after its full invasion of China in 1937 the United States did not rush to balance with China against Japan when the latter claimed not to pose a serious threat to U.S. ―Open Door. policy in China and did not show the ambition of total hegemony in East Asia at the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Had the U.S. adopted economic sanctions against Japan then, it would have only lost its own economic interests since Japan was a huge market for the U.S. exports. The Japanese declaration of a ―New Order. in 1938 was a key turning point. Following the ―New Order. declaration, the U.S. began to take actions to help China in order to contain Japan, if still not officially forming an alliance with China. The Pearl Harbor attack, of course, could not go unanswered. More than any other reason, it explains the ultimate and official alignment between the U.S. and China against Japan. In conclusion, U.S. policies towards China evolved from an initial ―non-interference. policy to ―allying with China against Japan.. Along the way, the principle goal of US foreign policy towards China from 1937 to 1941 remained fairly consistent, namely, guaranteeing its own economic interests unaffected by a militaristic and expansionist Japan, but by avoiding unnecessary confrontation.
The history and analysis in this thesis is an attempt to understand two things. First, what is the belief of the Chinese that guided China’s foreign policy making in its alliance switches during the Second World War? Second, why and under what circumstance did Germany, the Soviet Union, and finally the United States show their willingness to form an alliance with China at different times from the 1930s-40s?
When Japan’s initial expansion in China did not pose big threat to the interests of other powers, China offered the Germans tempting economic benefits in exchange for the German’s support for the modernization of Chinese military and industry. As war went on, Chiang Kai-shek and other Chinese leaders had been predicting a conflict between Japan and the powers. Such a belief became the rationale for their foreign policy. Based on their understanding of the nature of imperialism, they believed that the powers’ economic interests were jeopardized by Japan’s attempt to establish hegemony in East Asia and that an inevitable war would occur sooner or later. Similarly, they also viewed Japan’s threat to the Soviet Union as a catalyst for war. The consequences of such a belief were important. Diplomatically, they became the operating basis for fighting the war: counting on the assistance and eventual intervention by the powers. With such a belief of an internationalization of the war, China avoided the fate of total annihilation by Japan. Albeit Chiang failed to trigger a war between Japan and the Soviet Union, China was still able to obtain a
great number of assistance by forming an alliance with the USSR in 1937. The timely material assistance rendered by the Soviet Union and later by the United States at various critical moments helped China resist the Japanese army in this protracted war. In essence, the coming of the Pacific War and the eventual forming of Sino-US alliance for the Chinese was a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For Germany, the Soviet Union, and the United States, foreign policy was dictated by their respective national interests. Germany was willing to support China in the 1930s largely because German commercial interests in China were extremely beneficial for the Reich. For both of the Soviet Union and the U.S., supporting China and keeping the Chinese in war became the most economical policy for defense and their own national security.