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China’s Overlooked Role in World War II


More than two years before German tanks blitzed Poland and four years before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, what some historians consider the start of World War II occurred in China in 1937. The country’s eight-year war with Japan sowed the seeds for the attack on Pearl Harbor but ultimately contributed to the Allied victory in the Pacific—at an incredibly high price for the Chinese.

China-Japan Relations Before World War II

For decades after the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894-1895, China and Japan remained uneasy neighbors. With China engulfed in a civil war between Chiang Kai-shek’s ruling Chinese Nationalist Party and Mao Zedong’s communist forces, the Imperial Japanese Army invaded the resource-rich region of Manchuria in northeast China in 1931 and installed a puppet government





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