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LIST  June 2015

LIST June 2015

Subject:

Re: A question of evidence

From:

Anand Rao <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

NBR's Japan Forum <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 1 Jun 2015 09:43:17 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (13 lines)

"Up to 20 years of Japanese semi-occupation may have been hard for the Chinese but that would have been much better, for everyone, than what followed."

The first half of this sentence from Gregory Clark is an understatement, to put it mildly. As for the second half, it is counterfactual speculation that can never be proven correct. Semi-occupied (by the way, how exactly is a country semi-occupied?) or semi-colonial (the term used to describe Japan's unequal position vis-a-vis the Western powers from the 1850s until at least the 1880s) status at the hands of Japan from 1941 to the 1960s would not have been merely hard for the Chinese, it would have been intolerable. For all its internal troubles, China throughout the first half of the twentieth century was an independent state and a charter member of the League of Nations from 1920. To think that elite or ordinary Chinese would have acquiesced in a status akin to being a "semi-autonomous" princely state like Hyderabad or Mysore in British-dominated India is a bit of a stretch. To imagine Chinese would have tolerated such a status vis-a-vis a hated adversary like Japan is even more of a stretch. 

In the end, by 1941 it was clearly the case that the Open Door Policy--conceived after the Boxer Rebellion as a cynical maneuver to ensure access to the markets and resources of Qing Dynasty China by the Western powers and Japan--had evolved into a real commitment by the United States to guarantee the territorial integrity of the Republic of China. I don't think such a commitment allowed for the possibility of China proper's being "semi-occupied" by Japan. Could this commitment have been broken with a frank admission by Washington that an imperial power like the USA had no right to unfavorably view Japan's own desire to acquire larger amounts of overseas territory in China? I suppose, but given the power of the China lobby in the USA (led by people like Henry Luce, publisher of Time Magazine and a China-born son of missionaries) such an outcome was very unlikely by 1941.   

Anand Rao
Charlottesville, Virginia
 

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