Clash of Empires in South China: The Allied Nations' Proxy War with Japan, 1935-1941

Overview


Japan's invasion of China in 1937 saw most major campaigns north of the Yangtze River, where Chinese industry was concentrated. The southern theater proved a more difficult challenge for Japan because of its enormous size, diverse terrain, and poor infrastructure, but Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek made a formidable stand that produced a veritable quagmire for a superior opponent-a stalemate much desired by the Allied nations.

In the first book to cover this southern theater in ...

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Overview


Japan's invasion of China in 1937 saw most major campaigns north of the Yangtze River, where Chinese industry was concentrated. The southern theater proved a more difficult challenge for Japan because of its enormous size, diverse terrain, and poor infrastructure, but Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek made a formidable stand that produced a veritable quagmire for a superior opponent-a stalemate much desired by the Allied nations.

In the first book to cover this southern theater in detail, David Macri closely examines strategic decisions, campaigns, and operations and shows how they affected Allied grand strategy. Drawing on documents of U.S. and British officials, he reveals for the first time how the Sino-Japanese War served as a "proxy war" for the Allies: by keeping Japan's military resources focused on southern China, they hoped to keep the enemy bogged down in a war of attrition that would prevent them from breaching British and Soviet territory.

While the most immediate concern was preserving Siberia and its vast resources from invasion, Macri identifies Hong Kong as the keystone in that proxy war-vital in sustaining Chinese resistance against Japan as it provided the logistical interface between the outside world and battles in Hunan and Kwangtung provinces; a situation that emerged because of its vital rail connection to the city of Changsha. He describes the development of Anglo-Japanese low-intensity conflict at Hong Kong; he then explains the geopolitical significance of Hong Kong and southern China for the period following the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Opening a new window on this rarely studied theater, Macri underscores China's symbolic importance for the Allies, depicting them as unequal partners who fought the Japanese for entirely different reasons-China for restoration of its national sovereignty, the Allies to keep the Japanese preoccupied. And by aiding China's wartime efforts, the Allies further hoped to undermine Japanese propaganda designed to expel Western powers from its Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

As Macri shows, Hong Kong was not just a sleepy British Colonial outpost on the fringes of the empire but an essential logistical component of the war, and to fully understand broader events Hong Kong must be viewed together with southern China as a single military zone. His account of that forgotten fight is a pioneering work that provides new insight into the origins of the Pacific War.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The role of China in World War II is often overlooked, with many books depicting the Chinese primarily as passive victims of Japanese aggression. Macri (postdoctoral fellow, Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, Hickam AFB, Hawaii) seeks to dispel this impression by demonstrating that Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek in the years before the Pacific war deliberately sought to spur outsiders, particularly the British, Americans, and Soviets, to action against the Japanese. However, Macri's efforts are hampered by his use almost entirely of English-language sources, with little reference to Chinese, Japanese, or Soviet documents that could have led to more nuanced discussion. VERDICT This work is better appreciated as an Anglocentric discussion of the role of the British and the colony of Hong Kong during the years in question. It would best be read in tandem with other works on the topic such as Donovan Webster's The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II. Suggested for enthusiasts or academics in the field.—CH
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700618774
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 10/22/2012
  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 931,689
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Franco David Macri is a postdoctoral fellow with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Acknowledgments xi

Note on Romanization xiii

1 Collective Security in Asia: The Global Significance of Hong Kong and Southern China 1

2 Clearing the Decks: Preparing for War in South China, 1935 to July 1937 17

3 The Sino-Japanese War Begins: Proxy War in China, July 1937 to October 1938 37

4 The Trap Is Sprung: October 1938 to March 1939 89

5 Stalemate: March to October 1939 125

6 Impasse in Kwangsi and Japan's Failed Interdiction Strategy against Hong Kong: November 1939 to May 1940 176

7 Leveraging War and Peace: May to December 1940 202

8 The Triumph of Collective Security: Hong Kong, 1941 246

9 Empires Derailed: The War in South China, September 1941 to January 1942 286

10 Collective Insecurity: The Demise of Imperial Power in Asia 340

Notes 351

Bibliography 429

Index 441

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