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July 7, 1937
Beijing Lugou Bridge
纯钢纯强,其势必亡; 纯柔纯弱,其势必削

9 July 2010
 

It started during the time when Manchurians ruled China. Under the terms of the Boxer Protocol signed in 1901 by the West and the Manchu ruling group who was just too ready to trade China for its tribal interest which could never be reconciled with that of the local Chinese, a number of Western nations as well as Japan had gained rights to set up their military posts around the capital Beijing.

After the Manchu "emperor" Puyi was kicked out of the Ming Palace, the Forbidden City, he led his Manchu group to swear their allegiance to Japan and vowed to help them break up and destroy China. In 1931 Japan invaded China's northeast corner where Manchurians were first settled after being thrown out of Korea peninsula - a place they initially migrated to from a land further north of Mongolia - and proclaimed the region as an independent Manchu kingdom. Puyi became "emperor" again, for which he openly called Japanese emperor his adopted father and Japan his true motherland.

Back home around the old Chinese capital, Japanese military force intended to cut the link between Beijing and the rest of China so repeatedly demanded Chinese army to withdraw from the Lugou Bridge vicinity.

The Nationalist Government refused Japan's request, yet it was too weak and too corrupt to be able to protect China from an increasingly aggressive alien military presence.

Japan got angry and during June 1937 its army conducted a month-long rowdy night drill which was later halted after a negotiation by the local Chinese authority.

But on the night of July 7, Japan decided to once again challenge China's sovereignty and resumed military manoeuvres without advanced notice. The Chinese troops were alarmed and a brief fire were exchanged.

The Japanese reinforcements in the form of mountain guns and a company of machine gunners were quickly arrived, and at about 5am, July 8, Japanese infantry backed with armoured vehicles attacked the Marco Polo Bridge in the pretext that one of their soldiers were missing.

The towns and villages were badly ravaged in the Japanese assault. Chinese Communist Party immediately called Chinese people to form a united front to fight against Japanese aggression.

While Chinese troops tried their best to defend Beijing, on July 9, Japanese sent 20,000 troops and over a hundred warplanes from Japan and Korea to the region.

People in Beijing were enraged by the nation of little snake who intended to swallow the dragon in raw, and demanded the Nationalist Government to declare war against Japan.

On July 17, Japan announced to mobilize 400,000 military troops to launch a full-scale war against China.

On the same day, the Nationalist Government declared war against Japan.

Japan's preparation of war was in full swing. They evacuated nearly all non-military Japanese and Korean personnel from the area. South Koreans were chief supporters of Japanese war against China and enthusiastic participants of the Nanjing Massacre.

Japanese Army captured Beijing in early August.

And turned the ancient city into the bloody battleground.

It took China a good 8 years to defeat Japan at a massive cost of 3.5 million Chinese lives and direct economic loss amounted at US$100 billion.

During this year's anniversary of the Lugou Bridge Incident, some people in China reflected on history then concluded that Chinese need to brush aside everything else but focus solely on economic growth which is said not only to be the solution to all internal problems but the answer to any external threats.

Then came a question posted on China.com from someone identified as 午夜星辰1968:

本人总是疑惑,今天我们同美国的差距,比起抗美援朝时,是扩大了,还是缩小了

I always wonder that comparing to the time of Korean War, the (economic and military) gap between China and America has reduced or increased?

Good question, indeed!

Historically, the Song dynasty was the economically and technically most advanced kingdom in the world of the 11th century and in whole Chinese history, while the Manchu was the most backward tribe by then and by all time, but the Song Dynasty was destroyed by the Manchu tribesmen.

Yue Fei, the War Minister of the Song, was once asked how to obtain security and peace for the kingdom, to which he replied: "When the court officials are uncorrectable and the military officers are courageous, peace will descend upon us!" (“文官不爱财, 武官不惜死, 则天下太平矣!” )

Sadly, it wasn't the case for China in the 11th century in face of Manchu assault, despite being the richest kingdom in the world.

But luckily, it was the case for China in 1950s during the Korean War, despite being one of the poorest nations in the world.

It seems that those who urge Chinese to pay attention to nothing else but the economic development are either too ignorant of history and reality or too sinister with, possibly, some hidden agendas.

Lugou Bridge today

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