Wartime everydayness: beyond the battlefield in China’s Second World War
Hans VAN DE VEN
ABSTRACT: This article suggests that the study of the War of Resistance against Japanese aggression should pay due attention to the effect of the war on the wartime everyday, that is, on Chinese culture, politics, society, and the economy away from the battlefield. Not only was the impact deep and enduring, but evolving, regionally and socially divergent responses to the war also shaped the war’s military. In modern war, as Karl von Clausewitz pointed out, public morale is a key factor in deciding the outcome of the fighting. The article first sketches the war’s impact on the Chinese economy, suggesting that the main consequences were “demodernization” and the revival of traditional trading patterns. It then discusses the reading lives of a young woman who grew up during the war and a senior Nationalist official to delineate contrasting emotional private responses, with one person finding in literature an inspirational alternative and the other becoming increasingly disillusioned. The article concludes with an examination of three popular history textbooks. They all stressed the importance of an awareness of Chinese civilization but narrated its nature and its prospects in contrasting ways. Such textbooks were used in required Chinese history courses at universities. The article makes no attempt to be comprehensive but instead uses a few examples as illustrations of the potential of researching wartime everydayness.
KEYWORDS: War of resistance, everydayness, textbooks, reading, Chen Kewen, Chi Pang-yuan, Qian Mu, Lei Haizong, Fan Wenlan
Writing in wartime China: Chongqing, Shanghai, and Southern Zhejiang
ABSTRACT: The outbreak of the full-scale Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) brought an end to the printing and publishing industry centered in Shanghai in the 1930s. Chongqing then emerged as a nerve center of information and opinion. Writers everywhere worked under wartime conditions of social dislocation, economic dependency, and political control. This article examines the writing and publishing of three notable pieces of work completed in wartime Chongqing, Shanghai, and southern Zhejiang, respectively. The article explores the context in which each work was written and then evaluates the broader significance of the texts with regard to a historical assessment of the Chinese intellectual experience during wartime.
KEYWORDS: The War of Resistance, Guo Moruo, Zheng Zhenduo, Yu Shaosong, Chongqing newspapers, Shanghai rare book market, Jiashen sanbai nian ji, Zhejiang Provincial Gazetteer
The moment when Peking fell to the Japanese: a “horizontal” perspective
ABSTRACT: Due to its equivocal character, the fall of Peking in 1937 was a historical moment that deserves a thorough revisit focusing on the city’s multifaceted structure. As a narrative strategy, “moment” aims at putting various spatial imageries of multiple events in a minimized temporal unit. This article focuses on two moments after the Marco Polo Bridge incident of July 7, 1937: July 29, when the Chinese troops withdrew from Peking, and August 8, when the Japanese troops entered the city. It reconstructs these historical scenarios by utilizing the reports of journalists, diary entries, and reminiscences, along with literary works to capture the moment of Peking’s fall. Using a “horizontal” perspective, this paper reveals Peking residents’ communal awareness and attempts to excavate nationalist elements from local experiences.
KEYWORDS: Fall of Peking, anti-Japanese war, everyday life
Disciplined love: the Chinese Communist Party’s wartime restrictions on cadre love and marriage
ABSTRACT: During the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the Civil War, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) imposed restrictions on the marriage of its cadres, so as to maintain the Party’s effective control and combat cohesion. The Central Committee of the CCP did not issue uniform regulations on this topic; most decisions were made by the base areas, with the indirect support of the Central Committee. Marriage and love are personal matters, and the restrictions certainly caused emotional suffering for ordinary cadres affected. However, there were important reasons for the CCP’s implementation of these measures. Through punishment and guidance, these restrictions were carried out smoothly and did not cause great upheaval. As love and marriage became areas subject to the political power of the CCP, they unexpectedly became a focal point of the collision between individuality and Party spirit and between the individual and the group.
KEYWORDS: “28-5-regimental cadres”, cadres, marriage, Party spirit, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
GIs and “Jeep girls”: sex and American soldiers in wartime China
ABSTRACT: This article examines how sex affected the larger politics of the Sino–US alliance during World War II. By early 1945, Chinese from across the social spectrum resented the US military presence, but just one issue sparked a violent backlash: sexual relations between American soldiers (GIs) and Chinese women. Two interrelated, patriarchal narratives about sex emerged that spring. Starting in March, government-backed newspapers began criticizing “Jeep girls,” an epithet coined to describe the Chinese women who consorted with American servicemen. Rumors also circulated that GIs were using Jeeps to kidnap “respectable” women and rape them. Each narrative portrayed women’s bodies as territory to be recovered and inextricable from national sovereignty. These narratives resonated widely, turning Jeep girls into the catalyst through which all variables causing resentment against the US military presence intersected and converged. With Japan on the ropes, China’s allied friends now stood in the way of irreversibly consigning foreign imperialism to the past. Sexual relations were not the Sino–US alliance’s seedy underside, but the core site of its tensions.
KEYWORDS: American soldiers, Jeep girls, sex, Chinese women, World War II, Republican China, Sino–US relations
The production of penicillin in wartime China and Sino-American definitions of “normal” microbiology
Mary Augusta BRAZELTON
ABSTRACT: This article discusses the history of domestic penicillin production in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War, focusing on the work of the National Epidemic Prevention Bureau (NEPB) to identify, isolate, cultivate, and extract the drug. This work took place just as the American Bureau for Medical Aid to China discussed plans to establish an American pilot plant for Chinese penicillin manufacture, which would directly transfer technologies and personnel from the US to China. While American advisers saw the basic conditions of wartime China as actively obstructing the highly technical project of penicillin production, researchers at the NEPB relied crucially upon that same local environment to identify useful molds and find substitutions for key materials in successfully manufacturing penicillin in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province in southwest China.
KEYWORDS: Penicillin, antibiotic, medicine, World War II, American Bureau for Medical Aid to China, National Epidemic Prevention Bureau, Tong Cun, Tang Feifan
Airborne prawns and decayed rice: food politics in Wartime Chongqing
ABSTRACT: This article explores the multilayered dimensions of food politics in wartime Chongqing. A substantial number of wartime Chongqing dwellers were migrants who flocked to the city, having evacuated from coastal China to follow the Nationalists after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War. They could not simply be called refugees. Rather, they were sophisticated urbanites known by Chongqing natives as “downriver folks” who brought their political awareness and cultural tastes to the new wartime capital. Some introduced their sumptuous dining culture to Chongqing, thereby provoking a public sense of deprivation, while others brought organizational skills with which to turn public discontent into a political issue. This article argues that an increasing sense of deprivation stemming from the deterioration of the food situation in the city, if seemingly less significant than massive rural famine, became more consequential in the long run than any other political issue in the subsequent Civil War years.
KEYWORDS: Banquet, restaurant, wartime prohibition, rice, food entitlement, World War II, Chongqing
Tianshui’s three treasures: water and soil conservation in wartime northwest China
Micah S. MUSCOLINO
ABSTRACT: In addition to examining how wartime imperatives shaped the agricultural research, demonstration, and extension programs undertaken by the Nationalist government’s Tianshui Water and Soil Conservation Experiment Area (the Experiment Area) after its founding in 1942, this article assesses the rural populace’s responses to these conservation measures. While the Experiment Area’s plans to construct terraces and ditches were not well suited to the socioeconomic and environmental conditions that existed in rural Gansu during the 1940s, its introduction of non-native tree and grass species to check water and soil loss met with an enthusiastic response from Tianshui’s populace. Water and soil conservation specialists aspired to rationalize human interactions with the environment as part of wartime efforts to develop the northwest, but to realize these goals they had to take socioecological realities in the region and the needs of rural residents into account. Wartime conservation’s environmental legacies, the article also shows, extended into the period after 1949.
KEYWORDS: Agriculture, conservation, environment, erosion, Gansu, Tianshui
The power of the “Stockpile”: American aid and China’s Wartime everyday
ABSTRACT: This article argues that American and British narratives about the existence of a “stockpile” of Chinese goods had a powerful impact on US-China relations, China’s war effort, and China’s wartime everyday. Focusing on both the material and discursive construction of the so-called stockpile in the early 1940s, the work seeks to deconstruct a powerful symbol that was long used by both British and American officials (particularly in the US War Department) to delegitimize the Nationalist government’s war effort against Japan. Drawing on sources collected at archives in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan, the article seeks to rethink many commonly held assumptions about American aid and to reveal the powerful influence that the symbolic presence of the stockpile had in shaping Sino-American relations in the wartime period and beyond.
KEYWORDS: Sino-Japanese War, US-China relations, stockpile, foreign aid, War Department, Hump airlift, India, Chongqing, Nationalist Party