“Only 9/11 stopped the US from going to war with China”

Quite a claim, no? See what James Fallows has to say about it.

And yes, I’m still out of the country (the PRC) and the blog remains semi-closed. Maybe this and Lisa’s earlier post will encourage the abandonment of the last swollen thread, which would be good for humanity in general.


Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 121 Comments


Sorry I wasn’t aware the Japanese historical records were part of the almighty party handbook.

“When will we ever hear an honest, objective, self-critical view of Chinese history from the Chinese themselves? I long for the day”
Guess that won’t happen before their ‘view’ matches yours.
You really long for that day? How about you start treating the Chinese people with just a tiny bit of respect?
I wonder this, what about those so called “Chinese dissidents” that the West in general think so highly of? Did any of them ever give you “an honest, objective, self-critical view of Chinese history”? Or is it only when they speak lines that fit into your rhetoric that they have a functioning free-thinking brain, otherwise they are just infected with the Communist propaganda?

July 13, 2007 @ 4:23 pm | Comment


July 13, 2007 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

Oh dear. Do I have to spell it out? When I said, “drop your pants”, it was a reminder of how you can’t ever be sure about someone’s gender over the internet. And some prior trolls here have lied about their gender and their identities, over and over again, to the point of obsessive pyschosis.

Not to mention that one of them really did have a habit of dropping his pants.

July 13, 2007 @ 4:31 pm | Comment

Sinasource, I urge you to read the legend on my homepage. Here’s what it says:

“A peculiar hybrid of personal journal, dilettantish punditry, pseudo-philosophy and much more, from an Accidental Expat…”

You see, I have never, ever called myself a “China expert.” To the contrary, I admit to being strictly an amateur and a dilettante. I write about what interests me, with no pretenses and no claims of being anything more than an ignorant blogger. Why you continually come here day after day to taunt me for being something I am not (a self-declared China expert) is baffling, but as I’ve said, I know that obsessed people don’t have control over their compulsions and obsessions. I’ve seen it before.

Anyway, I hope this has given you some perspective on who I am and what this site is about. Oh, and just one more thing: Go fuck yourself.


July 13, 2007 @ 4:39 pm | Comment

Sorry Ivan, I had to edit our friend’s comment. He really brings back memories…

July 13, 2007 @ 4:49 pm | Comment

Yeah, Richard, I guess I really hit a nerve when I asked him to drop his pants… 🙂 And his immediate assumption that the main reason for Western men to go to China is to exploit young Chinese girls, also looks like “protesting too much”, if you see what I mean…

July 13, 2007 @ 5:22 pm | Comment


Japanese historical records also quoted significantly less number of murders during the Nanjing Massacre. I suppose you don’t have any objection to their account of this part of WWII history either.

In any case, what makes you think that the Japanese account of WWII is more trustworthy than that of independent scholars trained in the Western academic tradition? Is it because these scholars’ versions do not fit into your propaganda induced free-thinking mind?

July 13, 2007 @ 5:25 pm | Comment

Yes, SinaSource. I am a fraud, it’s true. I am an idiot and a liar. All true. When did I ever say otherwise?


July 13, 2007 @ 7:26 pm | Comment

SinaSource, as far as I know, all you’re doing is accusing Richard of posting uninformed opinion on China. But you failed to convince me HOW uninformed Richard is? What is wrong with his posting?

Why do I have to trust your assessment? Is it because you call yourself “SinaSource”?

If you want to cast racist dispersion just for the fun of doing it, then you have come to the wrong place. Why don’t you move over to Times China Blog and you can have real fun with some like-minded trolls.

By the way, just to remind you and other readers that there are some real native-speakers of Chinese here who geniunely respect Richard for the quality of his postings.

July 13, 2007 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

Wow. Sinasource’s obsession is beginning to remind me of this old classic from 1985:


July 13, 2007 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

@Fat Cat,
I thought it’s a commonly known rule of thumb, but maybe not. Anyone is liable to lie, but their degree of motivation, the cost and benefit of lying, may differ. Would a larger number of civilian killing, or the 731 unit make the Japanese look bad? Yes and absolutely yes, and that’s their motivation for lying toward a smaller number, so you take a larger grain of salt with their account in this regard. Would lying about their war effort and resource distribution in different parts of China benefit them in anyway? Not that obvious to me, so I take their account in this regard with a smaller grain of salt.

Another example, would the Chinese lie about the Chinese/US casualty in the Korean war? Exaggerating the US loss and minimizing their own would demonstrate their military power and boost morale, but minimizing your own too much probably can’t show how bad the US is (I have no doubt they were very willing to paint the capitalist/imperialist US in a unfavorable light), so it’s kind of a mixed bag, but I think the first factor wins out by a lot, so when taking the CCP’s number, you have a pretty good idea which side they could err on. Same thing applies to the number from the US. When numbers from the two sides roughly agree, they are more likely to be true, when they differ, you know it has to be somewhere in between. It’s an oversimplified description, but you get the gist.

Regarding ‘independent’ scholars. You made it sound like the CCP’s or the Japanese narratives are entirely different from theirs. The CCP rarely fought large scale battles against the Japanese. (Pingxingguan and 100 Regiment were kind of large scale). , but not exactly the kind of positional war KMT is famous for fighting and losing). The CCP worked mostly guerrilla warfare. They mostly operated outside the presence of KMT troops. Their large scale ops weren’t as successful as the guerrilla wars, which should be obvious given their quality and quantity (or lacking) of weapons. The KMT ambushed and almost wiped out the entire unit of the New Fourth Army, outside the Japanese occupation area. They expanded their forces and territory through the war (the numbers weren’t monotonically increasing, btw). And as much as the communist military had grown, their number and equipment were still far inferior to the KMT army when the Japanese surrendered. Their troop didn’t exceed one quarter of KMT’s until a year after….
All these are pretty much facts recognized by all sides and later historians.

What isn’t researched a lot (by the west) is how much force the Japanese devoted into their occupation area, and the small patches of communist guerrilla areas within. The CCP has huge incentive to promote such research and even exaggerate the number. But their claim is largely corroborated by the Japanese record, and most of the (though limited) research by western “independent scholars”. If the Japanese had motivation to give more than fair credit to the guerrilla warfare and the CCP, then it’s absolutely reasonable to doubt their record. But I haven’t seen any half plausible theory as to why the Japanese would do that, so my commie propaganda infested mind tends to accept their numbers with a healthy level of confidence.

July 14, 2007 @ 12:09 pm | Comment

Fat Cat, I can’t tell you how happy I am to see you back here. We really missed you.

July 14, 2007 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

“The CCP … mostly operated outside the presence of KMT troops.”

Correction: they mostly operated outside the presence of Japanese troops.


July 14, 2007 @ 2:22 pm | Comment


I didn’t see that piece before, it’s a good read. The Japanese effort he quoted(40%) is quite low compared to some others I’ve read, but it’s a well-referenced piece.

However, I fail to see how that discredits my claim (mostly outside KMT presence) and supports yours (outside Japanese presence) in any way. If anything, it points out the main strategy of the Communists to fight the resistance by infiltrating the Japanese occupation area and distrupting/sabotaging their communication/transportation to effectively weaken the Japanese control. The linked article also strongly argues against the notion that CCP were holding back against the Japanese (as if they had any more effective and capable alternative), and certainly not with the primary purpose of waiting out the war with Japan to win a subsequent a civil war.

July 14, 2007 @ 5:36 pm | Comment

pmw asked, “Did you notice even when at the height of the Pacific warfare more than half of Japan’s Army were still in China?”

Well now that you mention it, that’s a good point, as evidence that the Chinese of both parties were doing a piss-poor job of fighting the Japanese. The presence of a large army on your own soil is evidence of losing a war, not winning one – all the more so when your own population outnumbers the enemy country’s population several times over.

Of course the Russians also had a large enemy Army on their soil for a while, but they pushed the Germans back very rapidly – at a time when, UNLIKE Japan, the enemy was not facing much of a second front – and the relative populations of Germany and Russia were much closer than China and Japan. And, the Germans were far better armed and trained than the Russians. Yet
the Russians had a Stalingrad as early as 1942, before the second front opened in the West.

So why the hell didn’t the Chinese have their Stalingrad? (That’s a rhetorical question.) The Chinese were losing the war and would have become just another colony of the Japanese Empire, if it hadn’t been for the superior fighting skills of the Americans.

July 14, 2007 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

The Chinese were losing the war –true. That’s an acutely insightful observation.

But a high troop number of Japanese army certainly isn’t an indication that the Chinese had lost the war, or that the Japanese would invest LESS troop and resource in China if the resistance were more successful. It would be the exact opposite.

Comparing China to Soviet? One, China didn’t have much of an industry. Manchuria, where most of the heavy industry and over half of the weaponry production capabilities were based, was handed to the Japanese on a silver platter by the KMT, along with the limited number of planes, tanks and heavy artillery. The disparity in industrial and military might was such that by the time Japan had its preparation for a full-scale invasion largely in place, the plan was to take Shanghai in 3 days and the whole China in 3 months.

Two, Chiang Kaishek wasn’t half the strategist, military commander or leader of a nation that Stalin was, nor had he the firm control or legitimacy of control Stalin enjoyed. It doesn’t help that Chiang never had a clear plan of actively fighting the Japanese, which he didn’t put as a top priority until forced by a military coup. It’s evidenced by his various policy changes, such as “Internal Pacification First, External Aggression Second”, “Time for Space”, “Space for Time”, etc. He kept high hopes of diplomatic intervention by the League of Nations. He promoted development of economy and defense between losing Manchuria and Marco Polo Bridge, when the japanese were clearly ramming up their war prep machine at a faster pace. And part of his idea of developing economy? Mining iron and selling them to the japanese, who were short on raw materials for the war. He was also very intolerant of any expansion of other political/military power in China, be it the CCP or warlords who pledged allegiance to Chiang himself, encouraged and forced them into combating each other, even amongst the warlords and during the Japanese invasion. Maintaining and enhancing the legitimacy and superiority of his own faction turned out to be his top priority all along.

Three, the distribution of war resources. True the Chinese never lacked people, but what were the enormous number of Chinese people supposed to fight with? The militia was using blades, spears, some handmade explosives and rifles, and even their homemade farming tools. This is even true for a portion of the communist troops, who later saw an increase of Japan/Manchuria made weapons through guerilla wars. Chiang had some of his army equipped with German or US weapons, and almost all US and Soviet aids went to him.

Also, China had its own Stalingrad. It was Shanghai, where the battle lasted over 3 months and involved a million troops, two thirds of which were Chinese troops. But they lost the battle despite advantage in numbers. It showed the resolve of resistance of the Chinese, and the amount of sacrifice they were willing to make. It also showed fighting an entire frontal war with Japan wasn’t the best of ideas. The very nature of the Chinese society and economy at that time determined the way they could fight, and that the only possible hope of defeating Japan would be to mire them into a prolonged warfare (which both the KMT and CCP realized early in and even before the war) and to turn it into a “people’s war” (which Chiang was reluctant to do since that means a spread of military power and more difficulties for him to maintain control).

I apologize if this turns out a diatribe of Chiang and KMT, but that’s the way I see it. It is not to say they didn’t shoulder the majority of military campaigns and losses.

July 15, 2007 @ 4:26 am | Comment

“… ‘activists’ terrorists who would blow up buses loaded with people in Beijing?”

Have they done that? Did I miss something? Are they terrorists because of the things propaganda tells you they might be capable of doing but have not carried out?

More nonsense.

Posted by: stuart at July 13, 2007 12:22 PM


How about replace “they” with “Osama”? need more?

Have “Osama” done something wrong? Did I miss something? Are they terrorists because of the things propaganda tells you they might be capable of doing but have not carried out?

July 15, 2007 @ 7:46 am | Comment

the embassy bombing was claimed as a mistake, and if it wasn’t it is because china was aiding a genocide.

the plane collision, again, was an accident. you may not like the us being in international airspace near chinese borders, but they have the right to be there. a large slow plane would find it somewhat difficult to deliberately ram a smaller, faster one. the chinese guy got too close and lost control.

Posted by: Si at July 11, 2007 06:44 PM


embassy bombing, a mistake? and what?
“if it wasn’t it is because china was aiding a genocide.”

Maybe Osama also made a mistake, or wait, if it wasn’t it is because us was aiding who know what, who care?

July 15, 2007 @ 8:12 am | Comment

uf65ca, I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but I am sure you are out of your element. Your “arguments” are irrational and your tone snide and snippy. Please try to articulate your claims with more evidence and less snark. Thanks.

July 15, 2007 @ 9:39 am | Comment

pmw, first of all thank you for your detailed reply. I accept your explanation about a less unlikely scenario of the Japanese lying about their war effort and resource distribution. But I am not at all convinced that Chinese troops engaged in guerrilla warfare in WWII were fighting exclusively for the CCP. Historical record indicates that KMT and CCP had jointly trained a significant number of guerrilla fighting forces from 1937 – 1940.

What IS recognised by most independent scholars are the followings: (1) the military value of guerrilla warfare undertaken by the Chinese troops during WWII was limited. (2) But the Chinese communists’ publicizing of these operations had greatly heightened a misleading popular perception that the Communists were at the vanguard of the fight against the Japanese. (3) Both CCP and KMT were more interested in vying for territorial advantage than fighting the Japanese troops. (4) The reluctance of both Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong to confront the Japanese head-on made it possible for the Japanese occupation of China to continue despite the USA had great success in containing Japanese military expansion in the Pacific region.

So, I tend to agree with Ivan’s view that both KMT and CCP were “doing a piss-poor job of fighting the Japanese”. I find it amazing, pmw, that you still find it necessary to engage in a pissing contest, just to find out whether Chiang Kai-shek was more guilty than Mao Zedong in failing to defend China against Japanese invasion.

By the way, in answering Ivan’s question about why Chinese didn’t have their Stalingrad, you said, “China had its own Stalingrad. It was Shanghai …” I frowned when I read that. I’m wondering whether you actually understand his question. Or perhaps you’re so eager to discredit Chiang Kai-shek that you’ve totally missed the point.

July 16, 2007 @ 2:30 am | Comment

uf65ca, I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but I am sure you are out of your element. Your “arguments” are irrational and your tone snide and snippy. Please try to articulate your claims with more evidence and less snark. Thanks.

Posted by: richard at July 15, 2007 09:39 AM

Richard, Where I come from is not important, I merely used Stuart and Si’s “logic”, if there was one.

July 16, 2007 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

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