CCP Mythology: KMT, Not Reds, Fought Japan in WW2

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 9/02/2015 03:10:00 PM
Tanks, missiles, armored personnel carriers...and beautiful women on the march: it's PRC parade time.
If you repeat a lie often enough, then you have to sustain it through further deception thereafter. One of the most curious bits of hagiography for the People's Republic of China leadership is that they led the way in fighting the imperial forces of Japan during WWII. Like in the rest of Asia, it certainly wasn't a pleasant time for those under the boot of Nippon's "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere." That is why, seventy years later, the Chinese Communist Party still feels a compelling need to reinvent history in their favor to paint themselves as liberators from those vile foreign invaders. That the Japanese treated everyone else horribly is beyond question, but the claim that the CCP was instrumental in defeating Japan does not bear simple scrutiny.

Tomorrow, PRC sympathizers the world over descend on Beijing for the 70th year commemoration of the end of WWII--and therefore Japanese occupation. The questionable bit is that it wasn't the no-good dirty Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek who took the fight to Japan, but the communists. However, no self-respecting and impartial historian will support that view.
However, along with criticizing Japan, Xi and the PBSC also used the Victory Day celebrations to praise the CCP itself. As Shannon writes, the Victory Day holiday “also served as a celebration of the Chinese Communist Party’s role in defeating Japan — and more than that, in saving China from its century of humiliation…. Xi credited the CCP with spearheading the movement to unite all of China’s people in opposition to Japan. To Xi Jinping, the deciding factors in the war were the ‘great national spirit’ of the Chinese people — particularly, their patriotism — and the leadership of the CCP.”

None of this is particularly new. The CCP has long claimed credit for having tirelessly defended China from the Imperial Japanese army. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however[...]Japan’s invasion of China saved the CCP from Chiang Kai-shek and the KMT, and ultimately allowed Mao to defeat the KMT in the ensuing civil war. Indeed, by the end of 1934, the CCP was on the verge of extinction after KMT troops delivered another heavy blow to the Red Army in Jiangxi Province, which forced the Party to undertake the now infamous Long March to Xi’an in the northwestern province of Shaanxi. Chiang initially pursued the Communist forces, and would have almost certainly delivered a final blow to the CCP if war with Japan could have been delayed. As it turned out, Chiang was not able to put off the war with Japan any longer, and domestic and international pressure forced him to accept a tacit alliance with the CCP against Japan.

At the onset of the war, then, the CCP was not in any position to defend anyone from the formidable Japanese military. In fact, it wasn’t even in a position to defend itself from the KMT. The initial battles of the second Sino-Japanese War in southern China were the largest ones, and the KMT fought them alone.

This would be the trend of the entire war. As two scholars note, “From 1937 to 1945, there were 23 battles where both sides employed at least a regiment each. The CCP was not a main force in any of these. The only time it participated, it sent a mere 1,000 to 1,500 men, and then only as a security detachment on one of the flanks.There were 1,117 significant engagements on a scale smaller than a regular battle, but the CCP fought in only one. Of the approximately 40,000 skirmishes, just 200 were fought by the CCP, or 0.5 percent.”
The damning thing is that Chou En-lai admitted as much to the Russians: 
By the CCP’s own accounts during the war, it barely played a role. Specifically, in January 1940 Zhou Enlai sent a secret report to Joseph Stalin which said that over a million Chinese had died fighting the Japanese through the summer of 1939. He further admitted that only 3 percent of those were CCP forces. In the same letter, Zhou pledged to continue to support Chiang and recognize “the key position of the Kuomintang in leading the organs of power and the army throughout the country.” In fact, in direct contradiction to Xi’s claims on Wednesday, Zhou acknowledged that Chiang and the KMT “united all the forces of the nation” in resisting Japan’s aggression.
The mythology still resounds today as KMT veterans who actually fought the Japanese but did not decamp to Taiwan after the communist takeover have been treated very shabbily:
Chinese veteran Sun Yibai doesn’t have much time for the Communist Party’s claim to have led China to victory against Japan in World War II. “The Communist Party didn’t fight Japan,” said the sprightly 97-year-old, who once served as a translator with the storied Flying Tigers aviation brigade. “They made up a whole bunch of stories afterward, but it was all fabricated.”

That view challenges a basic premise underpinning this week’s lavish celebrations in Beijing of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat: That Mao Zedong’s communists were the saviors of the nation, battling against Japanese forces that began occupying parts of China in 1931 before launching a full-blown invasion in 1937.

Veterans such as Sun have long found themselves on the wrong side of that narrative. Their service with the Kuomintang led to imprisonment, persecution and often death in the years after the 1949 communist revolution. Now mostly in their 90s, they’re living out their remaining years shunned and forgotten by all but a few who care to hear their stories.

“Nobody cares about veterans like me. Nobody cares. People just forget what happened in the past,” Sun said during an interview in his Beijing apartment, which is stuffed wall-to-wall with books and old photos.
In the economic sphere, you find parallels of this inherent urge to reinvent certain facts to make the Communists appear as saviors of all that ails China. With PRC-sourced turmoil roiling global markets, authorities have tried propping up their stock markets through cash injections late in the trading day to avoid the ignominy of their own people losing faith in the Communist leaders' ability to engineer bull markets out of deteriorating economic conditions:
Hopes that China's leaders would ensure a favourable backdrop in the stock market for Thursday's military parade proved to be wrong — despite yet another strong rally in the final minutes of Wednesday trading.

The Shanghai Composite notched a third straight decline just ahead of a four-day holiday weekend to commemorate the "victory of the Chinese people's war of resistance against Japanese aggression." With minutes to go the market entered positive territory, but then ended 0.2 per cent down. Still, that's a small loss compared to the 4.7 per cent decline early in the day.

Last week market participants and people familiar with the matter said the state intervened to provide a backdrop of rising markets when Beijing hosts the huge military parade on Thursday. For the past six sessions the Shanghai Composite staged a late-day rally, but each day this week the climb only dulled the overall damage.
I believe that market participants' discomfort also stems from the Communist's insatiable urge for reinvention: what if all these years and years of economic growth in China were just as fake as the Reds "defeating" the Japanese?