Courtesy Reuters

Japan Attacks: China Resists

ON JULY 7, 1937, Japan resumed her march of conquest on the mainland of Asia. Her army, as I write, is advancing in an ever-widening circle in North China; and once again her navy, supported by a large military force, is hammering at the defenses of Shanghai, China's largest city and most important seaport. It is difficult in such a time of crisis to take a "long view." But it is necessary. For this is not another case like Ethiopia. Japan is not going to swallow a country as populous, extensive, and rich as China at one gulp. And if she attempts too large a bite at this time the problem of digestion and assimilation -- an inkling of which she should have had in Manchuria -- may well be too much for her system. In fact, the inordinate appetite of her military leaders seems to be rushing Japan into a dilemma from which she will require more than military successes to extricate herself. But the purpose of this article is to analyze China's problem, not Japan's. And first we must review the course of events which set the stage for this historical drama.


On the night of July 7, during a manœuvre near Fengtai, a railway center a few miles south of Peiping, Japanese troops made contact with a local unit of the 29th Chinese army and a conflict ensued. We shall never know which side fired the first shot. It is difficult also to say whether the incident was planned in advance by the Japanese or whether it was an accident which, involving their vanity, stirred to vigorous action the warlike spirit which has been their outstanding characteristic during the past several years. Either the leaders provoked an incident which would give them an excuse for belligerency and the assurance of popular support, or the incident itself created a situation which for questions of prestige the Japanese Army could not allow to pass without challenge. In either case the result

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