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The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China

Rana Mitter
Copyright Date: 2000
Edition: 1
Pages: 306
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  • Book Info
    The Manchurian Myth
    Book Description:

    A powerful element in twentieth-century Chinese politics has been the myth of Chinese resistance to Japan's seizure of Manchuria in 1931. Investigating the shifting alliances of key players in that event, Rana Mitter traces the development of the narrative of resistance to the occupation and shows how it became part of China's political consciousness, enduring even today. After Japan's September 1931 military strike leading to a takeover of the Northeast, the Chinese responded in three major ways: collaboration, resistance in exile, and resistance on the ground. What motives prompted some Chinese to collaborate, others to resist? What were conditions like under the Japanese? Through careful reading of Chinese and Japanese sources, particularly local government records, newspapers, and journals published both inside and outside occupied Manchuria, Mitter sheds important new light on these questions.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92388-1
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Note on the Text
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Crisis or Catalyst?
    (pp. 1-19)

    In May 1932, A. T. Steele, an American journalist commissioned by theNew York Times, came to the end of a wet, muddy, and often dangerous journey. He had spent over a week trekking across the ill-maintained back roads of Manchukuo, the puppet state established by the Japanese army in Northeast China in 1932. Steele had entered the Japanese-occupied region illegally, but he considered the risk to be worthwhile in his enthusiasm to chase down a big story: a face-to-face meeting with the renowned Manchurian Chinese resistance leader Ma Zhanshan. In the months after the first Japanese attack, Ma had...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Reform and Reaction: Northeast China under Zhang Xueliang, 1928–1931
    (pp. 20-71)

    The Northeast of China has been known since the mid-seventeenth century as “the Three Eastern Provinces” (Dongsansheng: Fengtian, renamed Liaoning between 1929 and 1931; Jilin; and Heilongjiang). It is a grim place, today marked by gray industrial landscapes, separated by stretches of stark plains and mountains, but in earlier centuries it was even more of a wilderness. The homeland of the Manchus, whose Qing dynasty conquered China in the seventeenth century, the Northeast was, from the mid-seventeenth century until the late eighteenth century, supposed to be off-limits to the Han Chinese. Yet in practice this regulation was often broken, and...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Staying On: Co-optation of the Northeastern Provincial Elites, 1931–1932
    (pp. 72-100)

    The days and weeks after the Manchurian Incident were marked by widespread cooperation between the Japanese invaders and the local Chinese leaders. In many places there was valiant fighting by Chinese opposed to the occupation, but as it was not centrally coordinated it had little overall effect. Although the training and high mechanization of the Kwantung Army was crucial to the speed and efficiency with which it staged the Manchurian Incident, with relatively few troops in the area it could not have retained control over an area of 350,000 square miles with a population of 30 million by relying on...

  8. CHAPTER 4 Shrapnel and Social Spending: Local Elite Collaboration in Manchukuo, 1931–1933
    (pp. 101-129)

    The Kwantung Army increased its numbers massively in 1931, from a little over 10,000 at the start of the year to nearly 65,000 by the end.¹ But even a massively increased troop presence was not enough to give it complete control over the vast area it occupied. In many cases, although the Kwantung Army nominally held control of a certain area, resistance fighters were in charge in practice. Even when this was not the case, however, the scale of their task made it necessary for the occupiers to work through the structures that already existed. Furthermore, the Japanese occupiers were...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Selling Salvation: The Campaigns of the Northeast National Salvation Society, 1931–1933
    (pp. 130-156)

    Chinese nationalism in the 1930s became more concrete as the Japanese became identified as the single enemy against whom to unite; even Mao Zedong, the doyen of class warfare, agonized between 1931 and 1934 over whether the Japanese invasion of Manchuria meant that Japan should be singled out for special opprobrium in his writings, rather than being lumped in with “imperialism” in general, although he never quite made the leap.¹ The change in thinking came about in significant part because the Manchurian crisis produced a group of activists who needed to promote nationalism to bring about their political ends and...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Know Your Enemy: The Creation of a Discourse of Nationalist Resistance, 1931–1933
    (pp. 157-188)

    The political activists of the NNSS were heavily influenced by the events that fueled nationalism all over China in the early twentieth century, including the May Fourth and May Thirtieth Movements. In this chapter, we will see that from 1931 to 1933 the NNSS drew on an existing nationalist discourse understood by the groups they were trying to reach, but adapted that discourse to fit the Manchurian case, permitting them to portray their own cause as being part of a wider national struggle. First, it shows that the concepts and terms used by the NNSS writers to define their positions...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Frontline Choices: The Resistance Fighters, Nationalism, and Locality, 1931–1932
    (pp. 189-224)

    This chapter looks at the actions of anti-Japanese activists on the ground in Manchuria—the resistance fighters. It is not intended to be a comprehensive account of their activities, which have been dealt with in detail in a series of excellent studies.¹ Instead, I aim to place resistance activity in the context of northeastern society at the time of the Manchurian Incident and to analyze it as part of the variety of responses that different groups within that society made to the occupation, rather than regard it as an isolated phenomenon. I will demonstrate the connections between the resistance fighters...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Epilogue: Manchuria in Memory and Myth
    (pp. 225-228)

    How did Chinese ideas of nationalism, resistance, and collaboration change between 1931 and 1933? In some ways, they appeared to change very little. Groups such as the Northeast National Salvation Society, demonstrations by students and merchants, and journals and magazines that advocated resistance against the Japanese occupation of the Northeast appeared and then faded from view, victims of a combination of the official Chinese policy of appeasement toward Japan and a generally sunnier, if short-lived, climate in Sino-Japanese relations.

    Under the surface of politics, however, deeper shifts were taking place. In mid-1931, nationalism was a rising and clearly visible force...

  13. Abbreviations
    (pp. 229-230)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 231-262)
  15. Glossary
    (pp. 263-266)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 267-284)
  17. Index
    (pp. 285-295)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 296-296)