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268 China Review International: Vol. 1, No. 2, Fall 1994 example, Ebrey et al., Chinese Civilization) when as teachers we try to bring Chinese history to life for our students, but Struve's materials allow a teacher to introduce a range of"voices" from the seventeenth century that students can readily understand and relate to. For both teachers and students, then, this is a welcome volume. Benjamin A. Elman University of California, Los Angeles F Youli Sun. China and the Origins ofthe Pacific War, 1931-1941. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993. xi, 244 pp. The relative unavailablity of archival materials until recently for a long time partly precluded our ability to comprehend satisfactorily China's foreign policy during the momentous decade that began with Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and came to a close with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. One consequence of this erstwhile limitation was a tendency for diplomatic historians to underrate China's own diplomacy during the all-important national life-and-deatii drama that was being played out. Recent bilateral studies have already helped to correct this situation : John Garver's book on Sino-Soviet relations for the period 1937 to 1945, William Kirby's on Republican China's relations with Germany, and Parks Coble's relating of China's internal politics to the Japanese relationship from 1931 to 1937. But it has been left to Professor Youli Sun to provide a more satisfyingly comprehensive interpretation of the period, an interpretation that highlights the rationale and conduct of China's diplomacy within a wider study of the relevant political and social context of the period. The author demonstrates convincingly that throughout this critical decade the Nationalist government of China consistently attempted to bring about an international coalition against Japan. Although this objective seemed to be illusory for several years because of the reluctance of the powers to offend Japan prematurely , it was, in the end, successfully realized. Despite repeated disappointments, Chiang Kai-shek steadfastly held to this hopeful policy; for it was solidly based on his conviction, a conviction that was grounded in the Chinese belief system re-© 1994 by University garding the dynamics of imperialism with which the country was only too familofHawai 'i Pressiar, that Japan's hegemonistic venture threatened British, American, and Soviet interests , and this would eventually bring them to support China. Furthermore, such an alliance was needed not only to help defend China against Japanese ag- Reviews 269 gression but to facilitate the Nationalist government's concentration ofmilitary resources against the internal communist threat. In the wake of the failure of the impulsive initial efforts to form an anti-Japanese coalition immediately after fhe Manchurian Incident, the Chinese government resorted to a policy of retrenchment from 1933 to 1935, a line which has been generally considered to be "appeasement." The author explains the rationale ofthis policy, pointing out the significant differences between the situations in China and in Europe, and the real differences in the objectives for employing policies designed to accommodate a determined, expansionist foe. Such differences clearly make it unfair to apply the pejorative term in the Chinese case. The author prefers the word 'gradualism' as better conveying the real intent of fhe Chinese government, which, having its back to fhe wall, had littie choice but to appear to make compromises with Japan. He then discusses the demise of the policy of gradualism that took place amidst the rising tide of nationalistic fervor and converging Soviet popular front strategy. Nanking responded by engaging in secret diplomacy with Aie Soviet Union and its own heightened determination to oppose Japan, thereby preventing any Sino-Japanese accommodation and making military confrontation inevitable. Subsequently, China managed to sustain its lonely armed struggle with Japan to a large degree by its faith that the democratic powers would eventually come through. The persistence of China's diplomacy and the dramatic, unexpected tenacity of China in its war with Japan at the outset and in the early years were, in fact, instrumental in gaining crucially important material support first from the Soviet Union and then from the United States and largely precluded die likelihood of a separate U.S.-Japan arrangement. Pearl...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9367
Print ISSN
1069-5834
Pages
pp. 268-269
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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