The Manchurian Myth: Nationalism, Resistance, and Collaboration in Modern China
By Rana Mitter
University of California Press, 2000, 306 pp.
This carefully researched and densely written study of a delicate subject dissects how the Japanese army took over Manchuria and began the occupation of China. Mitter discusses not only the myths of resistance that gave vitality to Chinese nationalism but also the motives of Chinese collaborators. The complex story involves the actions of the Japanese army in bombing a Manchurian train, the international reaction that tested (and found wanting) the League of Nations, and a Chinese government unprepared to fight the Japanese -- and hence forced to accept the Japanese puppet government of "Manchukuo." Mitter focuses mainly on the complicated interactions of the region's Chinese as they frantically sought out different positions. Some stayed and fought the Japanese as guerrillas, others fled as exiles and started building the myth of heroic resistance -- and huge numbers ultimately cooperated with the Japanese-sponsored regime. Each had different reasons and calculations. Over time, however, the myths of resistance masked the long-suppressed reality of widespread Chinese collaboration with the Japanese.