What the division caused…

Although some people still clinged to traditionalism, many people in China in the early 1900s wanted to build up their country through modernization and nationalization, since their economy was very much under foreign control. The leading group supporting this idea was the Kuomintang (the Nationalist Party) with Sun Yixian as its leader. His ideals were to build a modern government through nationalism, democracy, and economic stability. But unfortunately, he faced difficulty achieving unity among people throughout the country.

Then came more trouble. Similar as what happened to India, China participated in war against Germany during the World War I. Its aim was to gain the control of their own country, free from the foreign control. But the allies ignored their wish and even gave German-owned lands and rights to Japan instead of China. This was another case of unfair settlements at the Treaty of Versailles which caused bitterness for China. The result was overwhelming for the whole country. Angry demonstrators called for the end of the European imperialists and the protest against Japan.

There’s no doubt at all the Chinese people wanted to establish a secure, powerful, and modernized country out of nationalism. However, they were divided into two conflicting groups with different beliefs- nationalism based on Western democracy, and communism favoring Lenin’s idea of the Soviet Union. Undoubtedly, the two fought brutally against each other. It led into the Shanghai massacre in 1927 in which the nationalists killed most of the communists. Bloody civil war between these two continued from 1930 to 1949.

It is a pity that the difference in beliefs among people of the same nation led into so much violence and destruction. Why couldn’t they be harmonious and be united if they want to build up one powerful nation? Their break-up only came as an opportunity for the outsider, Japan. Since 1890, Japan with its strong military power was eager to build its empire to prove its power to the world.

Japan, no doubt, was canny in taking advantage of the political and social unrest in China and made an attack on it. Their attack started with Manchuria in 1931 and extended to a huge part of China by 1938. I think the Chinese civil war paid too high a price because Japan’s invasion resulted in heavy Chinese casualties, reaching 35 million including both military and non-military, and 95 million refugees. Eventually, the two major forces- Nationalists and Communists, had to stop their war and call a truce to defend against the Japanese. But shouldn’t it have happened much earlier?

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