The War in China Continues

Japanese troops look at the ruins of Shanghai, 1937.

IT WILL soon be a year and a half since a skirmish just outside Peiping, on the left bank of the Hun River, led to armed conflict between Japan and China -- a conflict which seems further from adjustment on fair terms today than it has ever been. At least three million armed men, regulars and irregulars, have at times been engaged in major and minor encounters over a territory of more than a million square miles. At least a million combatants and bystanders have lost their lives; great cities have been reduced to heaps of rubbish and huge tracts of country have been swept bare of life; there have been mass migrations of hundreds of thousands from their ancestral homes. Yet most of the correspondents in the Orient still refrain from calling these evidences of misunderstanding a war; it is still "the undeclared war in China." Japanese official spokesmen and the whole Japanese press are even more meticulously consistent in their references to the most desperate struggle in which their nation has ever been involved: they never call it anything but "the China incident." Laboring under their usual inhibitions, Occidental statesmen recognize the existence of nothing more than "a state of war" in China. But this is a war if there ever was one. It is the most businesslike war on Chinese soil since the Manchu conquest in the seventeenth century. And if this is an "incident" to Japan, the Russo-Japanese War was just a bit of slap-stick pleasantry, unworthy of more than casual notice in Japan's turbulent annals. Therefore to avoid circumlocution and compromise with make-believe, I shall henceforth call this the Sino-Japanese war.

As I look back through Chinese English-language publications which appeared during the months immediately preceding the clash, it seems to me that China was just as fretful for an excuse for a showdown, for an incident that would force Chiang Kai-shek to defy Japan's ultimata and to brace himself for a collision, as the Japanese

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