World War II in China lasted from 1937 to 1945 as the Japanese Empire attempted to conquer China. It is also known as the Second Sino-Japanese War; Japan won the first one in 1895.
As Japan attacked the United States and the British Empire in December 1941, the war became a front of World War II, and a part of the larger Pacific theatre.
With at least 15 million deaths, the Chinese front was one of the most destructive of World War II.
|Theatres of World War II:|
Europe • Africa • China • Pacific
- See Japanese colonial empire, Chinese Revolutions and Pacific War for related information.
In the last juncture, we can only sacrifice everything and resist to the end. Only with the determination to sacrifice everything can we fight for ultimate victory. If (the war) is treated with hesitation and uncertainty or selfish momentary ease, this will lead our nation to an catastrophic irreversible situation.
—Chiang Kai-shek, Speech at Lushan, just after the Marco Polo Bridge incident
Japan quickly won the First Sino-Japanese War in 1894-95 and, as a result, took over Taiwan, ended Chinese control of their former vassal state Korea, and on the Chinese mainland took over the Liaodong Peninsula, part of today's province of Liaoning.
Later Japan acquired considerable influence in Manchuria when they defeated the Russians in 1905; in particular they took over administration of the profitable Russian-built railway. Then following the end of World War I, as part of the victorious Allies, Japan gained control of the Shandong Peninsula from the defeated Germans.
In 1931 they staged the Mukden Incident; Japanese troops bombed part of the railway, the attack was blamed on Chinese forces, and that gave Japan a pretext to occupy Manchuria, setting up a puppet state called Manchukuo.
From 1927, the Chinese Communist Party and the nationalist government were often at each other's throats. They suspended fighting in 1937 after the Xi'an incident to fight Japan, but remained hostile to each other, and resumed their civil war in 1945, leading to Communist victory in 1949. See Chinese revolutions for details.
Japan invaded central China in 1937 after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, where nearby Japanese troops attacked after a request to search for an alleged missing Japanese soldier was refused by Chinese forces. Japanese forces soon managed to occupy much of eastern China, including the then-capital Nanjing. They set up a puppet state, the Wang Jingwei Regime (汪精卫政权/汪伪政权, Wāng Jīngwèi Zhèngquán/Wāng Wěi Zhèngquán) which controlled East China from 1940 to 1945, led by and named after the disillusioned former Nationalist revolutionary Wang Jingwei.
This invasion turned out to be a disaster for both sides. The Chinese were fighting an invader with far better armament and training, making do with whatever weapons their allies could send (many of them World War I surplus), enduring some spectacularly vicious oppression, and taking enormous numbers of casualties — over ten million military and civilian deaths, far more than any other nation except the Soviet Union. Some of them caused by mismanagement or scorched-earth policies by the ruling Kuomintang: a deliberate dam failure in Henan intended to slow down Japanese offensive caused 89000 direct deaths and even more deaths by disease and famine. Corruption was widespread within the Nationalist-led National Revolutionary Army, resulting in malnutrition and poor equipment among soldiers. Moreover, they were disunited; some factions of the Nationalists (Kuomintang) were sometimes more interested in fighting the Communists than in battling Japan; ex-warlord units were less trusted and received less equipment by Chiang Kai-shek's faction, despite their gallantry at war.
Despite all that, the National Revolutionary Army (run by the Nationalists with American advisors) managed to give the Japanese a remarkably hard time. Japanese planners thought they could take all of China in three months, leave a small force to hold it, and move most of their armies elsewhere. Actually, it took them three months just to take Shanghai and in eight years of fighting, 1937-1945, they never managed to take more than about half of China. The Chinese Army fought on through the entire war, often retreating but always at a cost to the enemy. Chinese guerrillas and saboteurs — Nationalist, Communist and independent — harassed the Japanese everywhere. Roughly half of the total Japanese ground forces were tied down in China throughout the war, including troops they had planned to use elsewhere. All the Allied land victories in the Pacific War were partly due to Chinese tenacity.
American, British and Dutch sanctions were imposed on Japan after the invasion of China; those, in particular restrictions on oil imports, were the main reason Japan gave for going to war with those nations. The Western powers also sent supplies to China via the Burma Road. The Soviet Union and America also sent volunteer air force units to support China, with the American one based in Yunnan renowned as the "Flying Tigers". Many overseas Chinese made significant financial contributions towards the Chinese war effort; in retaliation, the Japanese would single out the ethnic Chinese for the harshest treatment during their later occupation of much of Southeast Asia.
- 1 Jiaozhuanghu Tunnel Warfare Site Museum (焦庄户地道战遗址纪念馆) (Shunyi District, Beijing). A 23-kilometer network of underground tunnels built by residents of Jiaozhuanghu Village in the 1940s during the Japanese occupation of Beijing. The tunnels were used by Chinese resistance fighters to evade capture and launch attacks on Japanese forces. An 830-meter section of the tunnels is open to the public.
- 2 Marco Polo Bridge/Lugou Bridge (卢沟桥) (Fengtai District, Beijing). The location of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which was used as the casus belli by the Japanese for the second Sino-Japanese War.
- 3 Memorial of Famous Generals in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Agression (抗战名将纪念馆) (Haidian District, Beijing). Dedicated to the dozens of prominent Chinese generals who fought the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
- 4 Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (中国人民抗日战争纪念馆) (Fengtai District, Beijing). China’s largest museum about the Second Sino-Japanese War. The museum is inside the Wanping Fortress, a Ming-era fortress next to the Lugou Bridge (or Marco Polo Bridge), which was the site of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident - a battle between Chinese and Japanese forces in July 1937 that led directly to the outbreak of full-scale war between the two nations. The fortress was fired upon during the battle and shell-holes are still visible today.
- 5 Pingbei Sino-Japanese War Martyrs Memorial Park (平北抗日烈士纪念园) (Yanqing District, Beijing). Dedicated to the many Chinese soldiers who died fighting the Japanese in the Pingbei region (a vast region which includes northern Beijing and northern Hebei Province). Inside the park is the Pingbei Sino-Japanese War Museum (平北抗日战争纪念馆), which displays around 200 photographs and artefacts.
The "temporary capital" of China during World War II, after Nanjing had fallen to the Japanese. Despite numerous attempts by the Japanese to take it, Chinese resistance in the inland areas was much fiercer than the Japanese expected, and though it was heavily bombed, Chongqing managed to avoid Japanese occupation for the duration of the war.
- 6 Chiang Kai-Shek's Mount Huang residence (黄山蒋介石官邸, 蒋介石旧军事总部 Chiang Kai-Shek's old military headquarters) (Chongqing). When Chongqing was the capital of China during World War II, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek) established his military headquarters up in the mountains above Chongqing. As a result the Japanese bombers never found it, and it is now a museum, preserved as it was during the war. There are many buildings in the beautiful compound and you can visit his work room with the motto over his desk "all officials must serve the people" (in free translation), his bedroom, and his meeting room, and sit in his chair where he negotiated with the American advisers, with his American-educated wife usually to his left. The residence is usually referred to as Chiang Kai-Shek's Mount Huang (or Huangshan) residence in order to distinguish it from Chiang's other official residences (he had no less than four official residences in Chongqing alone). Together with the other buildings in the compound, the residence forms part of the Chongqing Sino-Japanese War Sites Museum (重庆抗战遗址博物馆).
- 7 Chongqing Flying Tigers Museum (重庆飞虎队展览馆, 重庆友好飞虎队展览馆, 重庆飞虎队陈列馆) (Chongqing). A privately-run museum about the Flying Tigers - a group of volunteer American fighter pilots who fought the Japanese from 1941 to 1942 as part of the Chinese air force.
- 8 Former Site of Eighth Route Army Chongqing Office (八路军驻重庆办事处旧址) (Chongqing). The Eighth Route army was a group army formed from the Red Army in 1937 after the Communists and the Nationalists agreed to stop fighting each other and form the Second United Front against Japan. It was nominally part of the national army led by Chiang Kai-Shek, but commanded by the Chinese Communist Party. The army had several offices throughout China to faciliate communications with the Nationalist authorites, including this one in Chongqing.
- 9 Former Site of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (大韩民国临时政府旧址陈列馆) (Chongqing). This was the site of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea from 1944 to 1945. The site is now a museum. Information is provided in Chinese and Korean only.
- 10 Former Site of US Embassy in Chongqing (重庆美国大使馆旧址) (Chongqing). The US embassy operated at this site from 1942 to 1946. In 2019, the former embassy site was reopened to the public as a museum. There are exhibitions about the wartime alliance between the US and China.
- 11 Jianchuan Museum Cluster (建川博物馆聚落) (Chongqing). This is the Chongqing branch of the museum group established by the industrialist Fan Jianchuan in Chengdu. It consists of eight separate museums built inside a series of World War II bomb shelters. Some of the museums are primarily about the war, including the Museum of the No. 1 Ordnance Factory, the Sino-Japanese War Relics Museum, and the Weapons Development History Museum.
- 12 Joseph Stilwell Residence (史迪威故居, 史迪威将军旧居, 重庆史迪威博物馆 Stillwell Museum) (Chongqing). Not far from Red Rock Village is the former residence and office of General Joseph W. ("Vinegar Joe") Stilwell, who headed American operations in China during the Anti-Japanese War. Stilwell is an impressive person, not only for his leadership ability but also for his understanding of China and Chinese culture (he could write in Chinese with a brush). His former residence is a 1930s modernist house with great views overlooking the Yangtze river. The main level is set up as it was during Stilwell's tenure. The lower level is filled with photos and bilingual descriptions of the Chinese front during the Second World War.
- 13 Liziba Park (李子坝公园, 李子坝抗战遗址公园 Liziba Sino-Japanese War Relics Park) (Chongqing). On the banks of the Jialing River, this is a newly developed park housing many original and relocated historical buildings when Chongqing was China's wartime capital. It includes old bank buildings, government offices and the residences of local warlords. Some military pillboxes are also preserved here.
- 14 Song Qingling's former residence (宋庆龄故居, 宋庆龄旧居) (Chongqing). This was Soong Qingling's residence when Japan occupied much of China and Chongqing was the temporary capital. It also served as the headquarters of the China Defense League, an organisation that she founded to help raise funds and procure supplies for the war effort in Communist-controlled areas of the country. Her Shanghai house is also now a museum.
- 15 19th Route Army Martyrs Cemetery (十九路军淞沪抗日阵亡将士陵园) (Tianhe District, Guangzhou). Dedicated to the many members of the Kuomintang-led 19th Route Army who died fighting the Japanese during the January 28 Incident in Shanghai in 1932. Since most of the deceased soldiers and officers were originally from Guangdong Province, their bodies were taken to Guangzhou for burial. The cemetery includes a memorial hall and a museum.
- 16 Guangdong Memorial Hall of the East River Column (广东东江纵队纪念馆) (Dongguan). A memorial museum dedicated to telling the story of the East River Column (also known as the Dongjiang Column), a Communist-affiliated guerrilla army that fought the Japanese during the Second World War and later took part in the Chinese Civil War. The museum is on a hill overlooking the historic village of Dawangling, which is where the East River Column's main base was located from 1940 to 1943. The village of course can also be visited and several of the buildings that made up the army base are open to the public.
- 17 Eighth Route Army Guilin Office Museum (八路军桂林办事处纪念馆) (Guilin). Has exhibitions about the Eighth Route Army's political and military activities in Guilin during the Second World War. The Eighth Route Army was a Communist-controlled army unit that was formed following the agreement between Communist and Kuomintang leaders to work together to fight the Japanese. The Eighth Route Army's office was located at this site from 1938 to 1941.
- 18 Guilin Flying Tigers Heritage Park (美国飞虎队桂林遗址公园) (Guilin). A memorial park dedicated to the Flying Tigers, the nickname given to the First American Volunteer Group (AVG), a group of American pilots who joined the Republic of China Air Force in 1941 and carried out missions against the Japanese during the Second World War. The park is at the site of the former Yangtang Airport, which is one of the airports where the Flying Tigers were based. There is a museum in the middle of the park and you can also visit a cave where the Flying Tigers command post was located.
- 19 Kunlun Pass (昆仑关) (Nanning). The site of the Battle of Kunlun Pass, a major batttle in Guangxi in December 1939-January 1940 that was won by the Chinese army. There is a major museum at the site as well as several monuments. There are also some remnants of the battle such as trenches and pillboxes but these things are not yet accessible to visitors.
- 20 Liuzhou Military Museum (柳州市军事博物园) (Liuzhou, Guangxi). Reportedly the largest military museum in southwestern China. The museum is noteworthy for being on the grounds of the old Liuzhou Airport. During the Second World War, the airport was an important base for the Chinese airforce as well as allied group such as the Flying Tigers and the Soviet Volunteer Group. Many of the wartime buildings still survive and there are exhibitions about the war.
- 21 Burial site of laborers killed in Basuo during the Japanese occupation of Hainan (日军侵琼八所死难劳工遗址) (Dongfang). During their occupation of Hainan Island, the Japanese army used forced labor to complete several infrastructure projects, including the Daguang Dam, the Shilu Iron Ore Mine and the railway line connecting the mine to the ports in Basuo and Sanya. At first the Japanese mainly relied on Chinese labor but later they began importing POWs that they had captured in Southeast Asia, including POWs who originally hailed from Australia, Canada, Britain and other allied countries. Conditions for the laborers were extremely brutal. Only 6000 of the more than 30,000 laborers survived. Many of the dead are buried here at this site. In 2013, the old prison buildings from the Basuo POW Camp Site were controversially moved here from their original location about 500 meters away.
- 22 Hainan Railway Museum (海南铁路博物馆) (Dongfang). A museum about the history of railways on Hainan Island. Hainan's first railway line was built by the Japanese army in the 1940s using forced labour. The museum's main exhibition hall was originally a Japanese military command center and was later converted into an office for the Hainan Railway Company.
- 23 Former Residence of Feng Baiju (冯白驹故居) (Haikou). Feng Baiju (1903-1973) was the chief Communist military leader on Hainan Island during both the Chinese Civil War and the Second Sino-Japanese War. His house was burned down by the Japanese army in 1942 and rebuilt in 1984. There is a small museum about him next to the residence.
- 24 Qiongya Red Army Yunlong Reorganization Site (琼崖红军云龙改编旧址) (Haikou). In 1938, at this site in the town of Yunlong, the Qiongya Workers and Peasants‘ Red Army led by Feng Baiju was reorganized and rebranded as the Independent Column of District 14 of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Defense Corps. This was done in the wake of an agreement by Communist and Kuomintang forces to halt the civil war and work together to fight the invading Japanese army. A memorial was set up at the site in 1952 and additional structures were erected here in the 1980s and 1980s, including a bronze statue of a soldier from the Qiongya Independent Column. The exhibition hall provides a detailed overview of Hainan's experience during the Second Sino-Japanese War, though unfortunately there is no information in English.
- 25 Unit 731 Museum (华日军第七三一部队罪证陈列馆) (Harbin). A museum in Harbin located in a former bio-chemical weapons testing facility built by the Japanese and used to perform experiments on Chinese and Korean citizens and POWs. After the war, the Americans agreed to cover up their actions and grant immunity from prosecution to the scientists involved in exchange for being granted exclusive access to the data, as they feared that the data would end up in the hands of the Soviet Union, and many of those scientists ended up having successful careers in academia and industry.
- 26 Eighth Route Army Luoyang Office Museum (八路军驻洛办事处纪念馆) (Luoyang, Henan). The museum is inside a traditional Chinese mansion built in 1831 that was originally the home of a wealthy merchant. Between 1938 and 1942, the mansion served as the Luoyang office of the Eighth Route Army, a Communist controlled group army that was created from the Red Army when the Communists and the Nationalists formed the Second United Front against Japan.
- 27 Former Residence of Zhou Enlai (周恩来故居) (Wuchang District, Wuhan). CCP statesman Zhou Enlai lived here with his wife for four months in 1938 while helping to coordinate the war against Japan. The residence has been fully restored and is open to the public.
- 28 Former Site of Eighth Route Army Wuhan Office (八路军武汉办事处旧址纪念馆, Memorial Museum of Wuhan Office of Chinese Eighth Route Army) (Jiang'an District, Wuhan). The Eighth Route Army was a Communist-controlled army unit nominally subordinate to the Kuomintang-led Chinese national army during the Second World War. The army's former office in Wuhan is now a museum with exhibits relating to the war.
- 29 Former Site of New Fourth Army Hankou Headquarters (汉口新四军军部旧址纪念馆) (Jiang'an District, Wuhan). The New Fourth Army was the second of the two major Communist-controlled army units that fought during the Second World War. The New Fourth Army's former headquarters is just around the corner from the former site of the Eighth Route Army Wuhan Office, so the two sites are probably best visited together.
- 30 Shimen Peak Memorial Park (石门峰纪念公园) (Hongshan District, Wuhan). The park is divided into several sections, one of which is the Wuhan War of Resistance Memorial Park (武汉抗战纪念园), which commemorates the heroes of the war against Japan and is located next to the Cemetery for Air Force Matrys Who Defended Greater Wuhan (保卫大武汉中国空军英烈墓园). On Shimen Peak Road (石门峰路), just outside the park's main entrance, you will find the Museum of the Hubei Soldiers and Citizens War of Resistance Against Japan (湖北军民抗战博物馆), which has exhibits about the war in Hubei.
- 31 Wuhan Art Museum (武汉美术馆), 2 Baohua Street, Jiang'an District (江岸区保华街2号) (Jiang'an District, Wuhan). The museum is housed inside the former Jincheng Bank. The building was used as a military headquarters by the Japanese during their occupation of the city.
- 32 Yaojiashan Scenic Area (姚家山风景区, Mount Yaojia Scenic Area) (Huangpi District, Wuhan). A tourist resort in a scenic mountain village. The village played an important role in the Second World War, being the site of a base for the Fifth Division of the New Fourth Army. The old army office has been preserved as a heritage site and there is a museum nearby.
- 33 Zhongshan Park (中山公园) (Jianghan District, Wuhan). On the left side of the Sun Yat-Sen statue is a building where Japanese forces stationed in Hubei formally surrended to the Chinese government in 1945. The building is now a museum dedicated to the event.
- 34 Zhongshan Warship Museum (武汉市中山舰博物馆) (Jiangxia District, Wuhan). This museum, near the right bank of the Yangtze in the far southwestern suburbs of Wuhan, commemorates a naval battle that happened here, hundreds of miles from the sea, in October 1938. Sunk by the Japanese air force - just three years before the Pearl Harbor attack on the US fleet - the Chinese warship Zhongshan was raised from the bottom of the Yangzte in 1997, restored, and is now displayed in this museum's main hall. Adjacent are exhibits on the history of the ship, as well as the process of its lifting from the river bottom and its restoration. On the top of a hill across the small lake from the museum is a memorial to the 25 sailors, including the ship's captain, who found their watery grave in the Yangtze, far from their hometowns on Fujian's northern coast. The lake is surrounded by sculptures commemorating various aspects of the Battle of Wuhan in 1938, as well as of the city's eventual liberation after the surrender of Japan in 1945. Various other exhibits of military and patriotic nature, such as a sampling of PLA's older weaponry, can be seen here as well.
- 35Changsha (长沙). The site of four separate battles between the Chinese and Japanese in 1939, 1941, 1942 and 1944. The first of those was the first time a major city was successfully defended by the Chinese from the Japanese during World War II. The Japanese were only able to capture Changsha on their fourth attempt in 1944. One of the battlefields has been preserved at the Yingzhushan War of Resistance Site Park (影珠山抗战遗址公园) about 70km northeast of downtown Changsha. One can also visit war memorials, graves and former military buildings at the Yuelu Mountain National Scenic Area (岳麓山国家重点风景名胜区) in the western part of the city.
- 36 Memorial to the Victims of the Changjiao Massacre (厂窖惨案遇难同胞纪念馆), Changjiao, Nan County, Hunan. Has exhibitions on the Changjiao Massacre, the second worst massacre perpetrated by Japanese forces in China during the Second Sino-Japanese War. Around 30,000 unarmed civilians in the town of Changjiao were brutally executed over a period of four days in May 1943.
- 37 Nanjing Massacre Memorial (侵华日军南京大屠杀遇难同胞纪念馆) (Nanjing). Commemorates the late 1937 slaughter of a huge number of civilians in and around Nanjing by the invading Japanese army.
- 38 Nanjing Memorial Hall to Aviation Martyrs Killed in the War of Resistance Against Japan (南京抗日航空烈士纪念馆, Nanjing Anti-Japanese Aviation Martyrs Memorial Hall) (Nanjing). Dedicated to all those who fought and died during the aerial battles that were fought against the Japanese during the Second World War. The memorial hall is close to a cemetery where around 3500 aviation martyrs are buried, including 870 from China, 2197 from the US, 237 from the Soviet Union and 2 from Korea.
- 39 Nanjing Non-Government Museum of the War of Resistance Against Japan (南京民间抗日战争博物馆) (Nanjing). A privately-run museum dedicated to the Second Sino-Japanese War.
- 40 Former site of Japanese Shinto shrine (日本神社旧址) (Nanjing). Built in 1939 by the Imperial Japanese Army during their occupation of the city. The shrine, officially known as the Nanjing Shrine (南京神社), was one of the largest Shinto shrines the Japanese built on Chinese soil. It was also one of the very few that was not demolished after the war. Today the site is being used as an activity centre for retired Communist Party cadres, so you might not be able to enter the building, but viewing it from the outside should be okay.
- 41 John Rabe's former residence (拉贝旧居，拉贝故居, 拉贝与国际安全区纪念馆 John Rabe and International Safety Zone Memorial Hall) (Nanjing). John Rabe (1882-1950) was a German businessman and Nazi party member who is widely celebrated in China for his efforts to protect civilians during the Japanese occupation. This house was his residence from 1932 to 1938. It is now a museum dedicated to telling the story of Rabe's life and the Nanjing International Safety Zone that he helped to establish and which is credited with saving thousands of lives.
- 42 Liji Alley Comfort Station Site (利济巷慰安所旧址) (Nanjing). The term 'comfort station' was a euphemism used by the Japanese army in World War II to refer to a brothel where so-called 'comfort women' were held captive and forced to render sexual services to Japanese soldiers. This particular comfort station was one of the largest in Asia. It is now a museum run by the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall. Entry is by appointment only. Visitors are required to make an appointment at least one day before visiting and cannot visit more than twice a month or more than 10 times a year. Due to the adult content of the exhibitions, children are not permitted inside the building.
- 43 Iris Chang Memorial Hall (张纯如纪念馆) (Huai'an). Dedicated to the memory of Iris Chang (1968-2004), a well-known Chinese American writer whose 1997 book The Rape of Nanking did much to raise public awareness of the Nanjing Massacre. The memorial hall has exhibitions on Chang's life and the Nanjing Massacre.
- 44 Memorial Hall of the Last Campaign of the War of Resistance Against Japan (抗日战争最后一役纪念馆) (Gaoyou). A memorial hall dedicated to the Gaoyou–Shaobo Campaign of December 1945. According to China's official history, it was the last campaign of the Second Sino-Japanese War. However, it may also be regarded as a campaign of the Chinese Civil War. It was fought between the PLA's New Fourth Army and a group of Japanese and collaborationist Nationalist forces. The PLA won an overwhelming victory. The memorial hall is inside an old church where the surviving Japanese and collaborationist forces surrended to the New Fouth Army.
- 45 Puppet Imperial Palace of Manchukuo (伪满皇宫; Wěimǎnhuánggōng) (Changchun). Home of Pu Yi, the last emperor of China and puppet emperor of Manchukuo, and centre of the Manchukuo administration at the time. The grounds are nicely restored, since the site was repurposed as a factory during the Cultural Revolution. Scenes from the acclaimed 1987 film The Last Emperor were filmed here.
- 46 Norman Bethune Health Science Center of Jilin University (吉林大学白求恩医学部) (Changchun). Norman Bethune was a remarkable Canadian doctor. He is quite famous in China, partly because Mao wrote an essay about meeting him and millions of kids read that in school. He was a military doctor in both World War I and the Spanish Civil War, then came to China. The Americans wanted to send him to the Nationalist Army, but he refused and went to the Communists instead. He founded this school in 1939, initially to train "barefoot doctors", peasants trained to help when there was a desperate shortage of army medics. Today it offers more conventional training for doctors, nurses and other health workers. There is a small museum dedicated to Norman Bethune on the ground floor.
- 47 Fushun War Criminals Management Centre (抚顺战犯管理所; Fǔshùn Zhànfànguǎnlǐsuǒ) (Fushun). It was here that the last emperor, Puyi, along with other Japanese and Kuomintang war criminals, were detained after the end of World War II. The site is now open for tourists to view. The galleries show the transformation of the war criminals and their living conditions.
- 48 Pingdingshan Massacre Memorial Hall (平顶山惨案遗址纪念馆; Píngdǐngshān Cǎnàn Jìniànguǎn) (Fushun). In 1932, in an event know to history as the Pingdingshan Massacre (or Pingdingshan Tragedy), 3000 people in the village of Pingdingshan were killed by the Japanese army. This site marks a mass grave where, in 1972, the bodies of 800 victims were found.
- 49 9.18 Memorial Museum (“九•一八”历史博物馆, 9.18 History Museum) (Shenyang). Dedicated to the Mukden Incident, which is usually referred to as the '9.18 Incident' in Chinese. At 22:30 on 18 September 1931, a bomb exploded beside the Japanese-run railway line near Shenyang. The Japanese had actually planted the bomb themselves, but the Chinese were blamed, giving the Japanese an excuse to invade and occupy the whole of the northeast of China. Shenyang was the epicenter of that invasion, so it is most appropriate that the museum for the '9.18 Incident', as it is known, is in Shenyang next to the spot where the explosion occurred. The museum, as one would expect, depicts the incident from a Chinese perspective. It is not for the faint of heart because it unflinchingly displays the atrocities of war. Only the main descriptions are available in English, but it's enough to follow the course of events. The pictures and exhibits speak for themselves, anyway.
- 50 Former Site of Shenyang Military Tribunal for the Trial of Japanese War Criminals (中国审判日本战犯法庭旧址陈列馆) (Shenyang). 36 Japanese war criminals were publicly tried and prosecuted at this site between June 9th and July 20th, 1956. The site is now a museum.
- 51 Shenyang World War II Allied Prisoners Camp Site Museum (二战盟军战俘集中营旧址陈列馆) (Shenyang). From 1942 to 1945, around 1500 soldiers from six different countries were interned by the Japanese at this POW camp in Shenyang. The site is now a museum. Information is provided in both Chinese and English.
- 52 Eighth Route Army Xi'an Office Museum (八路军西安办事处纪念馆) (Xi'an). From 1937 to 1946, this site served as the Communist Eighth Route Army's official liason office for coordinating communications with the Nationalist authorities in Xi'an.
- 53 Sanqin Museum of the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (三秦抗战纪念馆) (Xi'an). A museum about the Second World War in Shaanxi Province (Sanqin is an old name for Shaanxi).
Xi'an Incident sitesEdit
Chinese politics in the 1930s were complex. The Nationalists under Chiang Kai-shek were nominally in charge, but in many areas local warlords held the real power, some ethnic minority areas were de facto independent, and the Communists held other regions (see Long March). The strength of a political group was measured not mainly by how many votes it could get, but rather by how many divisions it could put in the field.
Yang Hucheng was the warlord of Shaanxi, the province whose capital is Xi'an. Chang Hsüeh-liang (Zhang Xueliang) was the "Young Marshal" whose family had ruled Manchuria. The Japanese assassinated his father (the "Old Marshal") in 1928, after he had acknowleged that Manchuria was part of China and accepted nominal subordination to Chiang. When the Japanese took over the region completely in 1931 the son retreated into central China, bringing an army.
Both generals were nominally subordinate to Chiang, and in 1936 he ordered them to attack the Communists. Instead they arrested him and held him until he agreed to co-operate with the Communists against the Japanese.
- 54 Huaqing Pool (华清池) (Xi'an). A hot spring villa in Xi'an where Chiang was held. Also famous as the site where legend has it that Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty had his romance with his favourite concubine Yang Guifei.
- 55 General Yang Hucheng's Zhiyuan Villa (杨虎城将军止园别墅) (Xi'an). One of two heritage properties administered by the Xi'an Incident Museum (西安事变纪念馆). the other being General Zhang Xueliang's Official Residence (listed below). The property has been restored to appears as it did in 1930s and has exhibitions about General Yang Hucheng and his role in the Xi'an Incident.
- 56 General Zhang Xueliang's Official Residence (张学良将军公馆, General Chang Hsüeh-liang's Official Residence) (Xi'an). The Xi'an Incident Museum's main exhibition halls are at this site.
- 57 Tai'erzhuang (台儿庄). Site of the Battle of Tai'erzhuang in 1938, the first victory the Chinese scored against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War, thus giving the Chinese forces a much needed morale boost. Today, the town has a well-preserved old town, with a museum and several art installations commemorating the battle.
- 58 Weixian Concentration Camp Museum (潍县集中营博物馆) (Weifang). The site of a concentration camp where thousands of Western prisoners of war, including Eric Liddell, who was portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire, were interned during the Japanese occupation. This is an interesting and little-known site in Weifang. The names of the prisoners are written in Chinese on the monument, but their English names are on a plaque to the south.
- 59 Chinese "Comfort Women" History Museum (中国“慰安妇”历史博物馆) (French Concession, Shanghai). A museum about the women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during the Second World War.
- 60 Former Site of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea (大韩民国临时政府旧址) (French Concession, Shanghai). In 1919, during the Japanese occupation of Korea, Korean independence activitists in Shanghai established the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea. This building served as the provisional government's main headquarters from 1926 to 1932. The site is now owned and preserved as a museum by South Korea. Everything is explained in Chinese and Korean, and there's nothing in English.
- 61 Jinshanwei War of Resistance Heritage Park (金山卫抗战遗址纪念园) (Jinshan District, Shanghai). Commemorates the landing of Japanese troops in the coastal town of Jinshanwei on November 5th, 1937. The Japanese encountered little resistance, as Chinese army divisions that had formally been stationed in the area had been redeployed elsewhere. Following the Japanese landings at Jinshanwei, the Chinese soldiers in Shanghai were surrounded from both the north and the south, so three days later, on November 8th, Chinese central command made the fateful decision to order all forces to abandon the city and retreat to the west. The park includes a number of monuments, as well as a museum about the Jinshanwei landings. The museum is inside the Jinshanwei Fort, a reconstructed Ming Dynasty fort that was destroyed during the Taiping Rebellion.
- 62 Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum (上海犹太难民纪念馆) (Hongkou District, Shanghai). The museum is at the site of what used to be the Ohel Moishe Synagogue. The synagogue was built in 1928 by Russian Jews and was one of the principal places of worship for Jewish refugees in Shanghai during the Second World War.
- 63 Shanghai Songhu Memorial Hall for the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (上海淞沪抗战纪念馆) (Baoshan District, Shanghai). Commemorates the Battle of Shanghai, one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
- 64 Sihang Warehouse Battle Memorial (上海四行仓库抗战纪念馆) (Zhabei District, Shanghai). The Sihang Warehouse is a historic warehouse on the north bank of Suzhou Creek. It was built in 1931 by four banks, hence the literal name of the warehouse is the 'Four Banks Warehouse'. In 1937, the warehouse became a flashpoint in the latter stages of the Battle of Shanghai. At that time, it was being used as the headquarters of the 88th Division of the National Revolutionary Army. The division was preparing to retreat to the city's hinterland, but left one battalion behind at the warehouse in order to buy time for the retreat and also to demonstrate to the international community the determination of the Chinese people to resist the Japanese. The battalion successfully defended the warehouse for about 6 days before eventually retreating to the International Concession, where they were promptly disarmed and arrested by British troops acting under pressure from the Japanese. Part of the warehouse is now a museum about the Defence of Sihang Warehouse and the Battle of Shanghai.
- 65 Burma Road History Museum (滇缅公路历史博物馆) (Kunming). A museum about the Burma Road. The museum was founded by Chen Daya, the author of a book about the Overseas Chinese drivers and mechanics who came to China to work on the Burma Road. The museum does not have a lot of artefacts, but has many photographs, illustrations and models. The most valuable and authentic item on display is an old case used for carrying items along the Burma Road. If you understand Mandarin, a friendly guide dressed in period costume can give you a free tour of the museum. A signed copy of Chen's book (published in Chinese only) can be purchased from the museum gift shop.
- 66 Kunming Flying Tigers Museum (昆明飞虎队纪念馆) (Kunming). This commemorates a group of volunteer American fighter pilots who fought in China. Kunming was their main base. Some of their other bases included Huaihua, Guilin, Liuzhou and Chongqing. These cities also have their own museums dedicated to the Flying Tigers.
- 67 National Southwestern Associated University Site (国立西南联合大学旧址) (Kunming). The National Southwestern Associated University was a wartime amalgamation of Peking University, Tsinghua University and Nankai University, which were and still are among China's most prestigious universities. It was established in Changsha in 1937 following the occupation of university campuses in Beijing and Tianjin by Japanese forces and was originally known as the Changsha Temporary University. In 1938, the university relocated to this site in Kunming following heavy air raids on Changsha and continued to operate here until the end of the war. The site, which is now part of Yunnan Normal University, is a national level heritage site and is open to the public.
- 68 Victory over Japan Memorial Hall (抗战胜利纪念堂, 抗战胜利堂, Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall) (Kunming). Completed in 1947, this was one of the first war memorials to be commissioned in China following the end of the Second World War. It is now a national heritage site.
- 69 Yunnan Military Academy (云南陆军讲武堂旧址) (Kunming). The Yunnan Military Academy is a historic military academy that was founded in 1909 during the final years of the Qing Dynasty. It continued to operate after the Xinhai Revolution (1911) and was one of the most important military academies in China up until its closure in 1935. A number of Chinese military leaders who took part in the Second World War received their training here. A museum at the site explains the history. Among the exhibitions is a major exhibition on the Chinese Expeditionary Force, a unit of the Chinese army that was dispatched to Burma and India to assist the Allies in fighting Japanese forces in those countries.
- 70 Laifengshan National Forest Park (来凤山国家森林公园) (Tengchong). A large park centered around Laifeng Hill (Laifengshan), the highest land formation in the central part of the city and one of the city's major landmarks. During the Second World War, the occupying Japanese forces fortified the hill and used it as a base for maintaining their stranglehold over the city. In 1944, this was one the main battlefields of the Battle of Tengchong, during which the Chinese Expeditionary Force and allied forces fought to liberate the city. The Chinese ultimately won the battle but at a heavy cost. Many of those who fought in the battle are buried at the National Cemetery to the Fallen of World War II (listed below). There are also many soldiers and other people buried on the hill itself, including Zhang Wende, the unofficial wartime governor of Tengchong County who mobilized local civilians to support the war effort. When walking through the park, you will see graves almost everywhere you look. You can also see remnants of the battle such as trenches and bomb craters. At the summit of the hill is the famous Wenbi Pagoda, which was destroyed in the war and rebuilt in 2000.
- 71 National Cemetery to the Fallen of World War II (国殇墓园) (Tengchong). War cemetery with the graves of thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers, as well as 19 American Flying Tigers, who died in the 1944 Battle of Tengchong.
- 72 Western Yunnan Memorial to War of Resistance Against Japan (滇西抗战纪念馆) (next to the National Cemetery in Tengchong). Large museum dedicated to the Western Yunnan campaign of World War II. Has lots of information in English, though captions for individual items tend to be in Chinese only. The main exhibition halls are on the ground floor, but the exhibitions on the second floor are worth seeing too, especially the exhibition on Japan's biological and chemical weapons program.
- 73 Stilwell Road Museum (史迪威公路博物馆) (Tengchong). A privately-run museum about the Stilwell Road. The museum maintains a very impressive collection of World War II-era military vehicles, including dozens of jeeps and trucks.
- 74 Memorial Park for Overseas Chinese Drivers and Mechanics from Southeast Asia in Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (南侨机工回国抗日纪念公园) (Ruili). Dedicated to the more 3000 Overseas Chinese drivers and mechanics who chose to leave their homes in Southeast Asia during the Second World War in order to work on the Burma Road. There is a museum in the middle of the park.
- 75 Mount Song Battle Site Memorial Park (松山大战遗址纪念园), Western Yunnan. Site of the Battle of Mount Song, an important battle in which the Chinese forces were successful in reclaiming a key choke point from the Japanese, thus allowing the Burma Road to be reopened. Some of the Chinese soliders who perished in the battle are buried here. Moreover, the battle site itself is remarkably well-preserved. One can see many trenches, tunnels and other features that date from the war. Also at the park is a major memorial, which consists of numerous sculptures of Chinese soldiers symbolising the people who fought and died in the battle, including numerous elderly soldiers, and teenage soldiers as young as 13.
A Chinese law enacted in 2019 criminalizes the denial of or insult to officially-endorsed heroes and martyrs (i.e. veterans, perhaps also war crime survivors), which include any deviation from the official historiography. For war memorials, any act considered to be disrespectful can be prosecuted.
After the War, the Communist and Nationalist parties accuse each other for fighting the Japanese in a passive manner — the CPC blames the Kuomintang for purging their units despite of the formal alliance and guerrilla warfare gallantry, while the Kuomintang criticizes the communists collected arms to prepare themselves for the future civil war while contributed little guerrilla warfare. The topic is extremely polarizing (and very likely out of the red line in Mainland China). Visitors should try to stay neutral in case of such disputes.
Japanese civilian involvement in the war is also controversial. There were indeed Japanese POWs who served in the Communist Eighth Route Army, and Japanese anti-militarist activists operated in China to voice their opposition to the war of aggression waged by their country. Like Germans living under Nazi Germany however, most Japanese civilians' attitude is at best indifferent and at worst supportive to the war. A settler colonialist policy was also pursued by Japan in Manchukuo, which was especially painful to locals in Northeast China. Some Chinese (especially hardline nationalists) resent insufficient retribution and compensation, and believe that Japanese civilians deserved strategic bombings and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.