The Second World War is the deadliest armed conflict in human history in terms of the total casualties of the war. Over 60 million people were killed and the destruction was so intense that it took at least a decade for the world to recover.
China lost 20 million people during the Second World War, which is one-third of the total population lost during the war. Yet, China is rarely mentioned in the history books for the pivotal part they played in helping the Allies defeat the Japanese during World War II.
On Sept. 3, for the first time China held a military parade marking the 70th anniversary the Japanese Instrument of Surrender that ended the World War II. Critics of China claim this military parade is nothing more than a stunt to show off their new military might. I believe this parade is China trying to show the lack of international attention paid to their role in the World War II.
China’s role in the Second World War was vital in the Allies’ victory against the Japanese. The Chinese military’s resilience in bogging down the main body of the Japanese military within China prevented the Japanese from sending vital troop reinforcements to other active theaters of war in Asia, which heavily contributed to the U.S. victory in the Pacific. Had China not actively resisted the Japanese, Japan’s ambitions to conquer all of Asia could have become a reality. China was also a member of the Cairo Conference with the U.S. and U.K. in deciding the post-war world order in Asia after the defeat of the Japanese.
Above all, China lost close to 20 million people in this conflict, with 14 million of them civilian casualties. The fact that this sacrifice is not internationally recognized is an insult to all those who served, fought and experienced the war first hand.
This conflict also shaped the identity of China since 1945. The controversy surrounding China’s confrontational foreign policy in 2015 can be traced back to World War II. By understanding this conflict, we can understand China’s current view of the world and how to deal with it.
By also recognizing China’s role in this war we can finally recognize the heroic sacrifices made by both Chinese troops and civilians for the part they played in securing the Allied victory against Japanese aggression during World War II.
Chen is an international relations and global studies senior from Galveston. He is an associate editor. Follow him on Twitter @ZhelunC.