Chinese historians called for more awareness of China's "indispensable contribution" to the Allied victory in World War II while world leaders gathered in Europe for solemn ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of Nazi Germany's defeat.
After Germany's defeat, the war in Asia lasted for more than three months until Japan's surrender on Aug. 15, 1945. Japan invaded China's northeastern region in 1931 and China's anti-Japanese war lasted for eight years without pause.
"China should not be written out of the World Anti-Fascist victory story. It is China's resistance that helped prevent a Japanese attack on the Soviet Union and the possible convergence of the two strongest fascist countries in the Middle East," said Peng Xunhou, professor of China's Academy of Military Science.
Peng, a well-known World War II historian, said that the rest of the world seldom integrates China's contribution into its collective memory of World War II because of the cold war after the victory in 1945.
"China's resistance effectively stopped a Japanese invasion into the far east of the Soviet Union, which was facing an extremely arrogant Nazi Germany in its west. The far east region became the most important strategic home front for equipment and food, and more 500,000 troops were transferred from the region to the west," Peng said.
When Germany swept the Europe in 1940, Chinese troops initiated winter counteroffensives across the country, forcing Japan to pay more attention to China theater.
"That is the main reason why Japan did not respond the demands of Germany to attack the Soviet Union or invade British troops in Southeast Asia," said Peng.
To isolate Germany, the Allies launched a "Europe first" strategy during the war. "The practice proved that the implementation of the strategy was absolutely necessary to achieve the victory as early as possible," said Li Jijun, senior professor of China's Academy of Military Science.
According to Li, it was Chinese resistance that slowed down and greatly lessened Japanese aggression into southeastern Asia, saving valuable time for Anti-Fascist forces in Europe. "Without Chinese resistance, it would have been almost impossible to implement the 'Europe first' strategy," said Li.
Although China was itself having a difficult time in 1942, it still sent an expeditionary forces of 100,000 to Burma to fight the Japanese. In the next three years, China sent a total of 300,000 troops to Burma, killing more than 60,000 Japanese soldiers.
Japan declared that they could defeat China in three months, but China resisted for eight years at a cost of 35 million lives and 100 billion US dollars worth of materials. The poorly equipped but brave Chinese armed forces kept many thousands of Japanese bogged down in Asia while the western alliance struggled against the formidable Germans.
Many Chinese and foreign scholars agree that if Japan had achieved a quick victory in China, large resources would have been released for more assault on other fields. The casualties of the western allies would have been much greater without China's stubborn resistance.
Even when the American army started its counteroffensive in the Asia-Pacific region in December of 1943, the China theater still contained at 54 percent of the Japanese land forces. "Victory was not automatic. The history of World War II would have been completely different without China's long-term resistance," said Rong Weimu, a research fellow of China's Academy of Social Science.
China also provided huge agricultural and mineral materials for its allies during the war, 450 million US dollars worth for the Soviet Union, US$747.85 million worth for the United States and 114.8 million pounds worth for Britain, Rong said.
Thanks to its indispensable contribution to World War II, China became one of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. "China fully deserved to be given such an important post in the world," said Li Liangzhi, a professor at China's Renmin University.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2005)