The only US force actually fighting the Japanese inside China was the 10th Air Force, formerly the “Flying Tigers.” But in the spring of 1944 it had only 100 warplanes it could devote to attacking the huge Japanese offensive, “Ichigo,” inside China. (100 fighters were assigned to the campaign in Burma and 200 to defend the B-29 fields in Szechuan, which were targeted only on the Japanese home islands). By comparison, U.S. Air Force in Europe at the end of the war had 17,000 operational aircraft and had lost 18,000. During the war, the Soviet Union received 25,000 US war planes. (With six months to go in the war, the 10th Air Force was up to 900 aircraft for all its missions.)
Archive for April, 2009
I have come upon Jay Taylor’s engaging writing only recently when I read his fascinating overview of the world’s two most populous countries, China and India, in his book ‘The Dragon and the Wild Goose’. The refreshingly different view point of this veteran Foreign Service officer presents instead of thinly disguised extrapolations of his own canny wisdom and insights, rather a keenly observing reporter’s overview of the realities of these complex societies with an objectivity that is both pragmatic and prophetic.
And … when I heard of [ Jay Taylor's] recently released ‘The Generalissimo’ … I found another gem of his factually based insights into one of modern history’s most enigmatic political players. Whoever believes they know, or wishes to know, how contemporary China has so explosively come upon the world stage over the last decades, you have to read ‘The Generalissimo’ to get the full understanding of the internecine struggles of the China.
General Stilwell, who was Chief of Staff to the Supreme Commander of the China Theater, Chiang Kai-shek, twice ordered separate senior American subordinates, who did not know each other, to draft contingency plans to assassinate Chiang. The first occasion came shortly after Stilwell had heard a rumor in Chongqing that Chiang was about to ask his recall. The second time he gave such an order he claimed that “the big boy” (i.e. President Roosevelt) had ordered up the plan. There is no evidence Roosevelt did such a thing but every reason to believe, including Stilwell’s “black book,” that it was not true. In each case when the subordinate officer returned with a plan, Stilwell said it had been decided not to go ahead with it.
The Anglo American strategy in the Second World War of “Europe First” meant that China would receive only $1.5 billion or 3 percent of the total U.S. Lend lease (military) aid to all its allies of about $50 billion. Little U..S equipment got into the hands of the Chinese Army fighting the Japanese inside China. The great majority went to the Chinese forces under Stilwell either fighting in Burma or being trained in India and Yunnan province for the Burma campaign.
In 1954 President Eisenhower told Chiang Kai-shek that if he withdrew from Quemoy and the other the offshore islands, the United States would join him in 400-mile naval interdiction of the east China Coast from Swatow to Wenzhou. The joint action would in effect be “a blockade of China’s coast” that would be difficult for Peking not to challenge. To the surprise of the Americans , Chiang immediately turned down the proposal, saying he believed that the United States, facing severe domestic and world opposition, would back down from such a blockade or if conflict with mainland China erupted as result the American people would soon compel the U.S. Government to cease and desist. If, as many observers have thought, Chiang wanted to involve America in a war with China, this was his chance. But he turned down the opportunity when the President of the United States himself gave it to him.
Click here to read the full excerpt.
Far Eastern Luncheon Group, Washington, DC - April 1.
New England China Seminar, Cambridge, Mass. - April 2.
The Academia Sinica and the Elite Book Store, Taipei, Taiwan - April 10-13.
Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired Club (DACOR) - Washington, DC April 24.
Politics and Prose Book Store, Washington, DC - May 9, 2009.
International conference on “Re-assessing Chiang Kai-shek: An international dialogue,” Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada - August 7-10.
International conference on China and the Second World War, Chongqing, China - September 6-9.
The US effort in the China-Burma Theater was focused on the two campaigns fought in Burma, whose goal was to reopen the Burma Road to China, but from India rather than Rangoon. The Burma Road was reopened in July 1945, a month before the end of the war. Thus it served no purpose in the defeat of the Japanese except for the diversion of resources that it had caused the Japanese Army to make.
According to a report from Zhou Enlai to the Comintern, from the start of the war to September 1939, the Chinese side had lost about one million soldiers of whom 97 percent were from the Nationalist side. In the first 18 months of the war Japan lost approximately 400,000 men dead (including from disease) or wounded and they adopted a strategy of holding the one quarter of China they occupied at that time and conducting punitive raids when necessary. In another message at the end of 1944, the CCP reported losses on its side since 1937 that were less than ten percent of total Chinese casualties.