The foreign reaction to the Japanese invasion varied. Most countries assuming that the Japanese would prevail, despite the naked agression, did not want to complicate their relations with the Japanese. The Allies (Britain and France) had their hands full contending with the increasingly belicose NAZIS. The Soviets concerned about Japanese expansion were at first the most supportive. Gradually America became China's major backer. Public opinion was very sympthetic to the Chinese. The American missionasries in China played a major role in developing public support for China. The powerful American isolationist movement was much more focused on Europe than Asia. The foreign reaction is often seen as a minor detail in the history of World War II. It was not. American journalists had a powerful impact on American public opinion. And it would be America's constant and increasing support of China that would cause the Jaspanese to finally decided not to strike north and support their Axis ally in the invasion of the Soviet Union, but rather to strike south and bring the United States and its massive industrial power into the War.
Germany was the first country to assist the Chinese Nationalists militarilly. Chiang Kai-shek's anti-communist stance attracted Hitler's attention. A threat to the Soviet Union in the east was an obvious assett for Germany to support.
In the early years of the NAZI state, the Germans provided military advisers as well as shipments of military supplies. This was possible before the Japanese invasion as the Chinese still controlled their ports (1937). Many Chinese officers were trained in Germany, including Chiang's second son. There was talk of equipping 30 new divisions with German weapns. This did not occur. As the Germans and Japanese drew closer diplomatically, the Germans withdrew their military mission to China.
Stalin appears to have been somwhat suspious of Mao and the Communists, in part becaise he could not control them like other Communist parties. Here it should be remembered that Communism was only one aspect of Stalin's policies. Another important factor was Russian national interests. And Imperial Japan was a threat to the Soviet Union just as it had been a threat to Tsarist Russia. The Japanese coveted the resources of the Soviet Far East. The Bolshevik Revolution only intensified Japanese hostility. The Japanese occupied Vladisvostock at the end of World War I and unlike the Americans were not anxious to leave after the war. Japan resumed its drive to expanbd its empire by seizing Manchuria and establishing the puppet state of Manchukuo (1931). This was followed by the invasion of China proper, seizing the important cities of Shanghai and Nanking (1937). These aggressions as well as joining the Anti-Comintern Pact (1936) raised concerns in Moscow.
The Soviet Union responded by negotiating a treaty with the Nationalist Kuomintang government (1937). Stalin provided Soviet financial and military aid to the Nationalist Chinese. In particular 450 Soviet pilots and technicians and 225 Soviet aircraft werre sent to aid the Nationalist. The Soviet Union was thus the second country to assist the Nationalists militarily. Soviet support continued until the German invasion (June 1941) when all resources had to be focused on fending off the Wehrmacht invasion. The Soviets sought to use the Kuomintang to tie the Japanese Army down in China. Otherwise the Japanese might be used to attack north in an effort to seize Siberia. Soviet technicians worked on logistics. Soviet General Georgy Zhukov observed Chinese and Japanese operations. For some time the Strike North Faction was the dominant group in the Japanese military. Zhukov would eventually fight the Japanese (Ma-September 1939).
Japan had been a British and Americam ally in World War I. The Harding Administration after World War I negotiated the Washington Naval Treaties. The goal was to limit naval arms spending, particularly Japanese spending and to get Japanese acceptance of the Open Door principle in China. The Japanese reluctantly agreed, but the Japanese military was outraged at what they considered a national insult. Few Americans outside the Navy saw Japan as a military threat. Most Americans to the extent that they thought on the subject saw the Japanese as a stable, hard working people in contrast to the tumult and poverty of China. The Japanese invasion and the brutality reported by missionaries and journalists powerfully swung American public opinion toward the Chinese, The Japanese attack on the USS Panay also affected American public opinion. The Roosevelt Administration took office 2 years after the Japanese seizure of Manchuria and establishment of the puppet Manchuko state. The Roosevelt administration like the Hoover Administration before it refused to recognize Manchuko and after the invasion of China proper (1937) gradually increased diplomatic pressure on Japan to withdraw from China and eventually began to aid the KMT. American journalists had a powerful impact on American public opinion. And it would be America's constant and increasing support of China that would cause the Jaspanese to finally decided not to strike north and support their Axis ally in the invasion of the Soviet Union, but rather to strike south and bring the United States and its massive industrial power vinto the War.
The Allies (Britain and France) had their hands full contending with the increasingly belicose NAZIS. Both Britain and France supplied the Nationalists with weapons on a limited basis. Eventually the British colony of Burma became China's only life line. The route became the Burma Road.
When the Japanese seized Chinese ports, supplies were routed through French Indo China and British Burma. Much of the supplies flowing through both routes were from America.
The Dutch did not attempt to supply China like Britain and France. As Troysky is sometimes sis to have said, "You may notg like war, but war likes you." The Dutch became a prime Japanese target because of the Diych East Indies (modern Indonesia) and the oil being produced there. As Japanese relations with america deteriorated, the Japanese looked around for alternative sources of oil. And the only such source was the Dutch East Indies, including Borneo which was sjared with the British.
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