Collaborationist Chinese Army

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The Collaborationist Chinese Army in the Second Sino-Japanese War went under different names at different times depending on which collaborationist leader or puppet regime it was organized under.

During the Invasion of Manchuria General Xi Qia organized a pro-Japanese secession movement in Kirin at the head of the "New Kirin" Army, and Chang Hai-peng at Taonan in the northwest of Liaoning province organized the Hsingan Reclamation Army. Both forces attempted to defeat the remaining Chinese forces in Heilongjiang province and at Harbin but failed. After the Mukden Incident, the Chinese forces that went over to the Japanese were formed into the army of Manchukuo Imperial Army in early 1932.

During the Japanese Operation Nekka in Jehol and the Battle of the Great Wall in 1933, Japan used the "National Salvation Army" of Li Chi-chun under the old five-barred flag of the Chinese Republic and the Taoliao Army of Manchukuo under Chang Hai-peng.

At the beginning of their intervention in Inner Mongolia the Japanese used Chinese forces under Liu Guitang and Li Shouxin. Later they used Wang Ying's Grand Han Righteous Army to form part of an Inner Mongolian Army and later the Mengjiang National Army. Once they formed the Autonomous Government of Eastern Hopei they established the East Hopei Army.

Manchukuo River Defense Army in a military exercise

After the Japanese first began their invasion of China in 1937, in each place the Japanese captured, a collaborationist army might be formed and given various names, such as "IJA Assistant Army", "Peace Preservation Corps" or "Police Garrisons" and so on. Later on, particularly under the Nanjing Nationalist Government they were re-organized in a system of Divisions, Corps and Armies.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese occupied area was in continuous need for troops to suppress revolts and to defend against sabotage to the Japanese supply lines, which diverted much of Japan's regular army manpower. In order to solve its manpower shortage on the front line (especially after 1942 and the outbreak of the Pacific War), and maintain rule over already occupied areas in China, the Japanese began employing existing local soldiers and recruiting local people to be responsible for the occupied areas' public security. Accordingly, the Japanese occupied area puppet regimes established the North China Zhi'an Army and Nanjing collaboratist army. The various puppet regimes had nominal control over their own collaborationist army only, but Japanese military officers were authorized to command and transfer any collaborationist army units as they saw fit.

In 1938, the manpower in China's puppet armies was approximately 78,000 men, mostly the forces of the Provisional Government of China in North China. When Wang Jingwei established the Nanjing Nationalist Government after 1940, the numbers of the Chinese puppet army suddenly rose to 145,000 men. Most of these new forces were local puppet forces established in areas the Japanese occupied from 1937 in Eastern, Central and South China.

From 1942 to 1943 (probably as a result of the United States' entry into the war), the Imperial Japanese Army commanders permitted the collaboratist army commanders faced with a disadvantageous situation (often a result of being caught between the Communists and the Japanese army) to preserve their strength by temporarily surrendering to the Japanese, and then joining the Nanjing collaborationist army en masse. The result was the collaborationist army manpower started growing rapidly. According to the Chinese Communist Party statistics at the end of the Second Sino-Japanese War, about 62% of the men in the Chinese collaborationist army were originally with the National Revolutionary Army. Though these results could possibly have been trumped up and used as propaganda due to the longstanding rivalry between both the Kuomintang and the Communists.

Furthermore, the worsening situation for Japan from 1943 onwards meant that the Nanjing collaborationist army was given a more substantial role in the defence of occupied China than the Japanese had initially envisaged, and this army was almost continuously employed against the communist New Fourth Army, and the target of guerrilla and sabotage operations led by the Bureau of Investigation and Statistics and the Communist New Fourth Army. In March 1943, a British intelligence report estimated the total number at 345,130 men.

Despite rapid growth in manpower and increased responsibility to support the Japanese, the collaborationist Chinese army suffered from very low morale because the general public in the occupied areas viewed them as Hanjian, or traitors to China, and many surrendered quickly to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek's forces during military engagements. Enemy prisoners of low rank were persuaded to renege and fight alongside anti-Japanese forces, but high-ranking prisoners were executed. Many commanders of collaborationist army secretly cooperated with the Chinese Secret Service under General Dai Li, exchanging intelligence about IJA troop movements as well as taking orders from him to suppress communists activities.

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