Following the outbreak of the civil war in China in 1930 between the Communists and the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalists), and the weakening effect of the ‘Soviets’ that were springing up around the country, the Japanese seized their chance to annexe Manchuria (Manchukuo), a valuable source of raw materials for their ongoing military build-up. In 1932 they established a puppet government there under deposed Qing Emperor Puyi. By July 1937 the Japanese had more than doubled their forces in China and, with tensions rising, their imperial army clashed with the forces of the Kuomintang at the Marco Polo (Lougo) Bridge near Beijing, sparking the second Sino-Japanese war. Despite the Chinese receiving help from the Russians and the Americans, the Japanese proceeded to capture the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Nanjing, the latter being the site of the notorious ‘rape’ massacre. In 1938 the retreating Chinese were obliged to relocate their capital to Chongquing (Chungking), and in order to prevent the province of Wuhan from falling into Japanese hands, they opened the dikes that controlled the flow of the Huang He (Yellow) River. The flood that resulted caused almost a million civilian deaths. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought the Americans into World War II, and with their bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 the Japanese surrendered and their occupation of China was finally brought to an end.
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