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National Government of Wang Ching-wei

Japanese troops, after conquering the Shanhai Pass (Shan-hai-kuan) and Linyu County in 1933, advanced swiftly to occupy much of Hebei Province. On 31 May 1933, He Yingqin and Huang Fu, leaders of the Kuomintang North China authorities, were authorized by Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei (Wang Jingwei) to sign the humiliating Tanggu Pact with the Japanese aggressors. The Kuomintang (KMT) authorities then negotiated with the Japanese on the return of the war zones (i.e., the zones between the truce line and the Great Wall vacated by the Japanese troops in North China) and related transportation and postal communication lines between areas north and south of the Shanhai Pass. These talks are known as the post-Tanggu Pact negotiations.

How to comprehensively deal with the complex contradictions in China's relations with Japan and the Soviet Union was a difficult and complicated choice for China in the years 1933-1934. On the whole, Chiang Kai-shek did not simply prefer to join with the Soviet Union and contain Japan, but rather took the position of maintaining neutrality to promote the mutual containment of the two countries, thereby gaining the dual objectives of resisting Japan and containing Russia. Qualitatively, these two objectives were pursued with different emphasis depending on changes in the contradictions at different stages and on changes in the understanding of those contradictions. But temporally, they were pursued in parallel and without conflict. For those in power, evaluating this dual diplomacy" of exploiting international conflicts was a watershed. This resulted in the split between Chiang and Wang on diplomatic policy during this period, and sowed the seeds which finally led them to follow opposite paths.

The Chiang Kai-shek [Jiang Jieshi] group and Wang Jingwei group had different views on national defeatism in terms of national situation, the prospets and forces of anti Japanese war before the outbreak of overall anti Japanese war. They shared the same opinions on the national situation, the destined failure of anti Japanese war and the end of the nation, but disagreed on the degree of losing the war, condition on peace negotiation with Japan and the dependent strength at home. The development and expansion of these divergences led to different ways of the two groups during the period of anti Japanese war.

Starting in 1939, the Japanese army concentrated its forces on destroying and taking over anti-Japanese base areas under the CPC leadership so as to weaken and annihilate the Eighth Route Army. With the help of the pro-Japanese puppet army, the Japanese troops carried out their “Three Liquidations” policy to "kill all, burn all and loot all." However, with support of the masses, the Eighth Route Army fought numerous bitter battles to contain the main Japanese forces and strongly supported battles at the front line. After Japan adjusted its strategy of aggression in China, Wang Jingwei, Vice President of Kuomintang, and other collaborationists set up a puppet regime in Nanjing and formed their own puppet military forces.

Wang Jingwei's defection to the Japanese side destroyed the remaining credibility he still had in the party and in the people. Wang Jingwei was originally a close associate of Sun Yat-Sen, but in 1939 was negotiating a settlement with the Japanese. From the seat of the Chinese Government, Chungking, it was announced on 08 February 1939 that Wang Ching-wei, chairman of the Central Political Council of the National party, will shortly visit Europe as a "tourist," this disposing of rumors that he was to accept a post in one of the Japanese puppet States. Lured by Japanese imperialists, Wang Jingwei, a veteran Kuomintang leader, and his clique openly betraged the country.

On 29 March 1940 Wang Jingwei set up an independent government in Shanghai in opposition to Chiang Kai-Shek. When Wang Jingwei prepared to organize a collaborationist government in Nanjing in early 1940, the Chinese situation seemed to support his decision. By then, over half of the Chinese population lived in occupied China, with the rest suffering from “famine, cold, disease, and air-raids” under nationalist rule. Military defeats, economic problems, and corrupt management continued to paralyze the Chongqing government beyond the end of the war. Such “organization decay” became “a consistent feature” of Jiang Jieshi’s rule and eventually accounted for his loss of China to the Communists in 1949. Wang Jingwei never thought that his collaboration with Japan would make China disappear as a nation. nor did he believe Japan had a plan to turn China into a colony. While defining a nation based on common blood, language, territory, customs, religions, spiritual and physical nature, and history.

While in nanjing Wang Jingwei hoped that Jiang Jieshi would accept direct and immediate peace with Japan in order to save China as a modern nation and avoid further suffering of the Chinese people. However, regardless of the hopeless and shocking situation China was facing and his inability to improve it, Jiang denounced Wang’s peace efforts and disparaged the “three principles” Tokyo suggested to end the war. Jiang’s criticism did not surprise Wang. With Manchuria under Japanese control following the September 18 Incident of 1931, many Chinese politicians found it a political liability to make compromises with Japan. Therefore, they chose to advocate tough resistance, though they knew such a “hightone” policy could not help save the nation nor reduce the suffering of millions of ordinary Chinese. But the “high-tone” nationalism served them well, for it projected them as national heroes. While the common Chinese were suffering, these “true patriots” continued to enjoy “quality life” in the rear areas secure from Japanese attacks. They knew China could hardly defeat Japan alone but they expected others to become “hanjian” and to negotiate peace with Japan in order to end the destructive war.

Chongqing’s denunciation did not shake Wang Jingwei’s determination to continue the “peace movement.” Wang knew China fought against Japan alone. few Western powers, including the United States, were willing to offer China any substantial help. Even after Pearl Harbor foreign assistance often came either too little or too late. Lack of foreign support deepened China’s sense of isolation from her potential allies, and cast gloom over the Chinese leaders that the war was to last much longer than they had recently projected, if victory would ever come at all. The discouraging international situation added to Wang Jingwei’s conviction that he was right to seek direct peace with Japan. By collaborating with Japan he hoped not only to spare his countrymen further grief or suffering but also to destroy the Communist movement, recover foreign concessions, and restore national sovereignty from Western imperialism.

In order to legitimatize his government and bring a sense of normalcy to the people under his rule, Wang Jingwei struggled successfully with the Japanese military authorities to maintain the “nationalist government” as the title for his government and retain the same national flag. Meanwhile, Wang continued to project himself as Sun Zhongshan’s successor, declaring his policy based on Sun’s sanmin zhuyi (Three People’s Principles) and xianzheng (constitutionalism). Wang promised to honor Sun’s legacy by first shixian heping (realizing peace) and then shishi xianzheng (implementing constitutionalism). Rule by law, not by a man, had always been on Wang’s political agenda. Even qingxiang yundong (the rural Pacification Movement) was designed to help realize sanmin zhuyi in the countryside, where the great majority of Chinese lived.

Wang Jingwei knew he could achieve nothing without Japanese support. He also believed once Japan recognized his government, it had no other choice but to “take our social and economic needs (minsheng xuyao) and our government structure (zhengfu tizhi) into consideration.” Besides, in Japan’s support Wang saw a chance for “our democracy,” a top political priority he had maintained since he followed Sun Zhongshan in the struggle for a modern, democratic China. Wang had no doubt that his collaboration with the Japanese meant his personal sacrifice given the Confucian tradition of filial piety to the nation based on the “nationalistic propaganda” of the nationalists and the Communists. But, he was willing to risk his reputation in the best interest of the people who, in his mind, were the backbone of the nation.

On 22 July 1940, Japanese Prime Minister Konoye led his 2nd Cabinet policy of "opportunism" to create a "new order" with Manchukuo and Wang Ching-wei. After Wang Jingwei established an embassy in Japan in 1941, it conducted diplomacy on behalf of Wang’s puppet regime and actively set up ties with other countries’ representatives in Japan. Wang’s regime contravened the will of Chinese people, and was not recognized either by the Chinese government or the international community. In terms of both national and international law, it was an illegal organization.

On Jan. 9, 1943, in order to persuade Wang Jingwei government to cooperate with the Japanese “Peace Movement,” the Japanese Military Department signed the “Treaty of returning foreign concessions and abolishing extraterritoriality” with Wang, promising to return the Japanese-occupied concessions and to support the Chinese to negotiate the return of foreign concessions with other foreign powers. As a result, on Aug. 1, 1943, the Wang Jingwei government formally took back the foreign concessions controlled by the Japanese, British, American, and French in Shanghai.

Although historical memory emphasizes the entrepreneurs who followed the Nationalists armies to the interior, most Chinese businessmen remained in the lower Yangzi area. If they wished to retain any ownership of their enterprises, they were forced to collaborate with the Japanese and the Wang Jingwei regime in Nanjing. Characteristics of business in the decades prior to the war, including a preference for family firms and reluctance to become public corporations, distrust of government, opaqueness of business practices, and reliance of personal connections (guanxi) were critical to the survival of enterprises during the war and were reinforced by the war experience.

The supply-control policy was an important means by which the Japanese militarism plundered wealth in occupied China. Japan and their puppet government's supply-control in Nanjing was an individual case for researching the colony economy during the War of Resistance Against Japan. Wang jingwei's puppet government, after its establishment in Nanjing, cooperated with Japan to control the supplies at first, and then built up its own control system. Their supply-control policy guaranteed the need of Japanese invasion war, was a complete plunder and an unprecedented disaster to occupied area in China. The process from Japan-Wang regime's cooperative supplies-control to Wang regime's independent supplies-control reveals more clearly the puppet feature of Wang regime.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2011 19:12:38 ZULU