Battle of Shanghai (1937)

A Re-compilation of Old Postings

The war in Shanghai was tied to the Brussels Conference and the expectation that the League of Nations would intervene. In hindsight, China should not have persisted in Shanghai for like three months, fighting the Japanese in a three-dimensional warfare. But, if you read Wellington Koo’s memoirs, you would see that the British, the French and the Americans repeatedly said that should China win some decisive battles, then it would be easier for the League of Nations to intervene on behalf of China. It was the international game at play.

As far as northern China was concerned, China would lose the five provinces the same way as Manchuria if no battle of Shanghai was ever waged. Japan was delayed by the Battle of Shanghai as well as hindered by its selfish capitalists’ care for their properties in coastal Qingdao. Anybody who read China’s map could tell that should Japan land in Qingdao, they could go along the Long-Hai Railway to cut the whole China into two halves. In light of the fact that China successfully protracted in its resistance war, for eight years, we could not tell the general strategy was wrong. Important is not to look at the issues in hind sight.

Chiang Kai-shek fell into the trap of thinking that his war in Shanghai could ultimately be brokered by the international powers like in 1932. To know why he was misled, check Wellington Koo’s Memoirs. Other than the misleading matter that related to the European powers and America, there was another factor of China’s false hope, i.e., the Soviets. Chiang was naive in thinking that the USSR would join the war – a factor that Japan was cautious about in Manchuria area throughout 1937. The USSR, before the Xian Coup of Dec 1936, did want a military alliance treaty with Chiang, which China declined. That was at the time Stalin was paranoid about the possibility of wars on the two fronts. Otherwise, the Russians, if in a military alliance with China, could be bound or Japan would think twice before attacking China.

Chiang Kai-shek committed a grave mistake in misjudging the Americans throughout his early life. The time interval between the League of Nations’ resolutions in early October and the Brussels Conference in early Nov was crucial for China. Japan knew it and did its best to thwart China’s diplomatic initiatives. The only reason that the British passed on the hot potato to the Nine Power Treaty countries was for the Americans to step in. The delay in the conference till the Chinese defense was almost in total collapse should make every Chinese aware of the importance that a nation like China should not count on anybody else other than themselves. (Do not forget that in 1931, President Herbet Hoover gave Japan a free hand in the invasion of Manchuria on the pretext that Japan could not tolerate a half-Bolshevik China. For details, see

Update at

The Japanese navy and the marines, being arrogant always, had tried to start a war in Shanghai in Sept of 1936 for assisting the Japanese Tientsin Army’s Fengtai provocation in Northern China. And, in the Shanghai-Nanking area, Japan also had staged an incident of a missing Marine for provoking a war. The Battle of Shanghai was inevitable, just a matter of time –because Japan was determined to attack and defeat China before China was to complete the military modernization plan. China’s airforce had a history of only a few years, for example. (The initial war victory of the Chinese pilots could be attributed to the great sacrifice made by the pilots of the overseas Chinese origin, especially those from Canada and America. Young overseas Chinese men [and women] in America, indignant over the racial discrimination from the Chinese Exclusion Act, longed for serving the motherland, and ever since the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the 1932 attack at Shanghai, had volunteered for flight training in the private aviation schools across the cities of Oakland, Seattle, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles etc, and returned to China to join the Cantonese Air Force which was merged into the Central Air Force later in 1936.
Overseas Chinese pilots came from close to a dozen cities in America, including Seattle, Portland, Oakland, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Phoenix, and Tucson, as well as from Canada. The most famous of all would be warhawk Arthur Chin of Portland, Oregon, an born-in-America Cantonese with Peruvian heritage.)

Back to the Shanghai Battle of 1937: China had to fight a war to secure Northern China. Without the Battle of Shanghai, you could bet that Northern China would become Manchuria the Second. Besides, police, i.e., the former army soliders of the 29th Corps, had slaughtered Japanese in Tongzhou on July 29th, and Japan had officially mobilized its army against China – the point of no return right there. (Japan, on July 11th, made the decision to send 4 homeland shidan to China.  Bertram, a leftist-leaning news reporter as well as a friend of Smedley, was in Japan to report the event. On page 23 of  UNCONQUERED, Bertram noted the Japanese newspaper ‘extra’, stating that “japan sends an army to north china… four divisions to leave  at once…”)

It was true that China picked the fight in Shanghai. Chiang merely wanted a replay of 1932. But the foreign powers chose not to intervene, other than the USSR providing China with military support for China and sending in the Soviet air force during the Battle of Nanking. Stalin, being deeply worried that China would lose the war and capitulate to Japan, had fragrantly sent in the Soviet airforce to China to join the Defense Battle at Nanking in early 1938, with both dead and live pilots captured by the Japanese in the ensuing years. Japan did not pick the fight in Shanghai because their aim was still the silkworm-style eating-away against China’s territories. If you examine how wavering Japan was in attacking Qingdao, you would understand their psychology. Japan’s military was still controlled by their financial conglomerates which in turn valued their properties in Qingdao more than anything else, i.e., a weak spot that China figured out and then used to hold Japan at bay and avoided a Japanese landing to cut the waist of the Tientsin-Pukow Railway. See the point?

As to the Russians: They were saved by the Americans who gave the USSR at least 20 billion US dollars. At least. And, do not forget about the Acheson 2 billion craap to China, and the real number, military wise, was like less than 0.5 billion to Chiang Kai-shek, and done in the way of “first arming China, and then disarming China” [e.g., no machine-gun bullets for the American weapons throughout 1946-1948]. I don’t see any Russian bravery in resisting the Germans. Just check out how many millions of the Russian prisoners the Germans had caught. The same 20 billion American lend lease weapons were then used for aiding the CCP and North Korea, by the way.

Chiang Kai-shek Losing Mainland China

Chiang losing the trust of the people was fabricated since 1944, with the inception of the Dixie Mission. Check Chennault’s memoirs and Miles’ memoirs, and you could tell what Americans went to Yenan to fabricate the myth about the communists. – Check related threads about the American arms embargo against Chiang, i.e., what they called “first arming China, and then disarming China”, and also check the Russian supplies to the CCP – which was ambiguous at the time, as seen in Wellington Koo’s memoirs – because the Russians and the CCP were so tight-lipped and security-averse that nobody could slip into and out of the communist territories to find out about the Soviet aid for the Chinese communists.

As disclosed by John Service, he was the pawn at the front to push for the American mission to be sent to Yenan. The Dixie Mission consisted of sixteen people purportedly canvassed from “the various operating agencies in the theater …–the Twentieth Bomber Command, the people in Chengdu, the B-29′s, the Fourteenth Air Force, the OSS of course.  Then there were various OSS groups that were put under Fourteenth Air Force, air grand rescue service, and photo, something like photo–and specialists that the Fourteenth Air Force didn’t have that OSS was able to supply.” The Fourteenth Air Force did not send anyone.  (As Chiang Kai-shek would allow the Americans go anywhere in North China other than the communist territory, Service and Adler, i.e., the Comintern agent at the Treasury Department, devised a means to pressure Chiang by using Wallace’s visit as well as the assistance from George Marshall. To solve the “the question of getting permission to go to Yenan”, Service thought Marshall’s message would be taken by Chiang to be something from the White House, namely, more forceful to the ears of Chiang Kai-shek. Wallace’s visit was counted as another try. So Service et al., “drafted a message referring to various earlier messages”, mentioning that Chiang had concurred previously with a request from the White House to allow them to “go to north China, any areas under Kuomintang control” which “of course … was not what we [they] wanted.” Service et als., “drafted a message to the War Department for [General George] Marshall summing up all this and suggesting that Wallace’s visit would be a good time for a push.  We [they] got a message back which, as I [Service] recall, simply said that the White House had agreed that our [their] message could be given to Chiang Kai-shek as being from the White House.” Other than the channel of George Marshall, Service disclosed that Davies had attempted to use James, Roosevelt’s son, as a figurehead to lead a delegation to visiting the communists in the attempt of breaking the communist isolation.)

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