(JAPAN'S WAR against CHINA and the SOVIET UNION – continued)

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JAPAN'S WAR against CHINA and the SOVIET UNION (2 of 4)

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Shanghai, War and China's Alliance with the Soviet Union

Japan's military in August 1937 was concerned about Japanese civilians living in Shanghai. There a Japanese force of around 2,500 was facing a Chinese army of 120,000 who were stationed just outside the Shanghai area. Anticipating trouble, the Japanese meanwhile were withdrawing their nationals from Hankow and elsewhere along the Yangtze River.

On August 9, a Japanese Marine lieutenant and his seaman first-class chauffeur shot a Chinese sentry as they were trying to drive into an area controlled by the Chinese army, and the Chinese army shot and killed the two. Japan's navy, in charge of security for Japanese in Shanghai, received permission from the cabinet to mobilize. By August 12, the navy's marines were on full alert. Konoe and other ministers agreed that army should send troops to Shanghai as support, and on August 13 the cabinet approved.

On the night of August 12, Chiang Kai-shek ordered a general offensive against the Japanese. At dawn on the 14th, the Chinese 87th division, with a nascent airforce, attacked the Japanese military positions around Shanghai, and they attacked Japanese textile mills in the area. They tried to sink the Japanese flagship anchored in front of the International Settlement, but they only damaged the ship. That same day, Japanese planes raided the Chinese airfield at Hangchow. And the air war continued to the 15th, when Japan sent its airplanes against Nanjing and the Chinese section of Shanghai.

On August 21, China signed a military pact with the Soviet Union. And China's Communist Party felt that it had a new lease on life – offered by the Japanese. The Communists had been clamoring for an all-out war to rid China of Japanese intrusions, and now they had it. The Red Army was reorganized into the Eighth Route Army, to fight under the centralized command of Chiang Kai-shek, to advance eastward against the Japanese and to carry on guerrilla warfare. The Communist Party announced its "unswerving loyalty" and "unqualified support" for Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Fighting against the Japanese invaders would help advance the Communists in the eyes of China's public, and the Party gave a directive to its people to join in various organizations pursuing victory, to lay down their lives in the defense of their country, to expel the enemy, and to recover their nation's lost territories.


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