Media reports about Anti-Japanese War commemorations have revealed a new line of argument from China regarding the roles played by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as the party directing the war effort and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) -- as failing to respond to the Japanese threat and fleeing. The new line allows for a joint CCP-KMT effort against the Japanese. This is supposed to be a sign of goodwill, a confirmation of the KMT's historical contributions and an attempt to lay the foundations for another round of cooperation between the two parties.
But the CCP's acknowledgement of joint resistance does not mean that China is restoring historical truth, nor is it a true sign of goodwill. This talk of joint resistance is nothing but humbug. The notion that China is looking for another round of cooperation with the KMT is a distortion of the truth surrounding CCP-KMT cooperation and a beautiful euphemism for an attempt to wipe out the KMT.
To this day, Chinese schoolbooks still maintain that the CCP was the main actor in the resistance. But the following facts show that it is possible to clarify the fact that the CCP did not direct the war effort against Japan, and even that talk of a "joint" resistance is a joke.
War histories from both Japan and the Republic of China clearly indicate the scale of the CCP's "participation." From 1937 to 1945, there were 23 battles where both sides employed at least a regiment each. The CCP was not a main force in any of these. The only time it participated, it sent a mere 1,000 to 1,500 men, and then only as a security detachment on one of the flanks.
There were 1,117 significant engagements on a scale smaller than a regular battle, but the CCP fought in only one. Of the approximately 40,000 skirmishes, just 200 were fought by the CCP, or 0.5 percent.
Not even the CCP can provide any data on its number of casualties in the war, and there are no memorials to CCP heroes in the war to be found in China. This makes one wonder what China really did contribute.
And what does KMT-CCP cooperation really mean? The KMT fought a horrifying war of resistance against Japan, by first fighting a direct war against Japan and then having to fight the CCP's 8th Army. Many KMT soldiers died without understanding why. If they were not able to match Japanese troops on the battlefield, they would raise the KMT flag and move toward the CCP's troops, only to be met by sweeping machine-gun fire. They had enemies front and back. These are facts that have been recorded by the CCP itself.
Peter Vladimirov from the Third International, or the Comintern, who was sent by Moscow to Yanan as a liaison between the Chinese and Soviet communist parties, kept a detailed record from 1942 to 1945. The CCP refused his requests to visit the frontline. He later found that the CCP and the Japanese never engaged each other in fighting. So what were the CCP doing? "They were planting opium in Shaanxi!" he said. They used the huge profits from the sale of opium to buy arms to strengthen their position and wipe out KMT troops.
The CCP's own party history says that from 30,000 troops at the outset of the war, the ranks expanded to 1.2 million regular troops and approximately 2.6 million to 3 million militia by the end of the war, giving it a total of between 3.8 million and 4.2 million troops. Following the Japanese surrender, the CCP launched a civil war which resulted in the KMT army being routed and fleeing to Taiwan.
Any talk of joint resistance is thus a shameless lie, and the history of "KMT-CCP cooperation" is the history of the annihilation of the KMT's troops in China. Some of the veterans that fought the bloody war of resistance are still alive and so are the spirits in the Martyrs' Shrine. Some of the local media, however, ignore the facts and even dance to the tune of the CCP's "united front" propaganda. This is a great wrong committed against the 60 million soldiers who died in the Anti-Japanese War.
Many changes have taken place in China, but what is needed to promote cross-strait peace is not KMT-CCP cooperation, ice-breaking trips or expansion of agricultural contacts. These matters may very well be nothing but sinister plans in the guise of an illusory united front.
The only hope lies in having government and opposition join hands to demand that China develop democracy and the rule of law and abandon totalitarianism. Otherwise, Beijing's rulers will not stop distorting facts, trampling on the law and human rights, suppressing the media and rewriting history, all to save their own despotic rule. Such a government is not only a threat to other countries, it is a government in crisis.
Ming Chu-cheng is a professor of political science at National Taiwan University. Flora Chang is a professor in the Graduate Institute of Journalism at the same university.
Translated by Perry Svensson
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