Japan’s successful invasion of Northeast and North China was not only attributed to its long-premeditated plan and strong military strength, but also related to the Nationalist Government’s Non-Resistance Policy or its choice of waiting for mediation by other powers. The root cause of “non-resistance” came from the idea in the policy of “first internal pacification, then external resistance”. As early as 23 July 1931, on the eve of the September 18th Incident, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) accented in his A Letter to All Compatriots of the Whole Nation on First Internal Pacification, Then External Resistance in July 1931 to “first annihilate the bandits, then the Japanese; first internal pacification, then external resistance. After internal stability is secured when the Communists are eradicated, then we can start our resistance towards Japanese invasion.” At that time, “internal pacification” mainly referred to the suppression of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, 中國共產黨). As the Government of the Kuomintang of China (KMT, 中國國民黨) was busy encircling and exterminating the CCP’s rural base areas from south to north, it continuously maintained an attitude of compromise, tolerance or concession towards Japanese aggression.
However, the KMT’s choice of putting the suppression of the Communists before resisting Japanese aggression upset the whole nation who called for an end to the civil war and the launch of united resistance against Japan. One of the campaigns that best represented this strong feeling was the December 9th Movement. The Japanese invasion of North China aroused indignation nationwide. On 9 December 1935, under the planning and leadership of the CCP, thousands of college and secondary school students in Beiping (北平) staged anti-Japanese patriotic demonstrations to express their opposition against the North China Autonomy Movement and to defend the territorial integrity of China. Despite obstruction, suppression, and arrests by the military police, the students persisted in their struggle. For example, on 12 December, students in Beiping held their fifth demonstration, chanting slogans like “Assisting in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Suiyuan (綏遠)”; and on 16 December, more than 10,000 students and civilians in Beiping went out to demonstrate once again. Afterwards, students from North China formed publicity groups to reach out to the people in the south to promote the ideas of resisting Japan and saving China, which led to further demonstrations in Hangzhou (杭州), Guangzhou (廣州), Wuhan (武漢), Nanjing (南京), Shanghai (上海), and other cities. The country’s anti-Japanese public opinions and sentiments climaxed when the “Seven Gentlemen” including Shen Junru (沈鈞儒) who advocated resistance against Japanese aggression were arrested in November 1936.
A precept written by Chiang Kai-shek on 4 March 1932, saying “We must suppress domestic insurgency before resisting outside invasion”.
With the fall of Northeast China after the September 18th Incident, the whole nation’s anti-Japanese sentiments were fuelled. In December 1932, students in Shanghai (上海), Nanjing, and Qingdao (青島) held anti-Japanese petitions and demonstrations. Chiang Kai-shek (the man in black shirt) had to meet them at the auditorium of the Central Military Academy.
On 9 December 1935, the CCP organised thousands of students in Beiping to initiate anti-Japanese patriotic demonstrations and chant slogans like “Ending the Civil War and Launching United Resistance Against Japan”. This campaign was known as the December 9th Movement.
During the December 9th Movement, students were suppressed by the military police.
Instead of yielding to the pressure of the Government, the students who participated in the December 9th Movement tried to expand it. The photo shows a student publicity group promoting the idea of resisting Japanese aggression to the public.
Local students petitioning the Nationalist Government after the December 9th Movement spread to Nanjing, the capital of the Republican Government.
Local students petitioning the competent authority after the December 9th Movement spread to Shanghai, China’s largest industrial and commercial city.
Local students launching demonstrations after the December 9th Movement spread to Wuhan (武漢), a large city in Central China.
Local students launching demonstrations after the December 9th Movement spread to Guangzhou (廣州), a large city in South China.
The public opinions on resisting Japanese aggression climaxed when the Seven Gentlemen were arrested in 1936. This is a group photo of the Seven Gentlemen from the National Salvation Association before leaving prison on 31 July 1937. From the left: Wang Zaoshi (王造時), Shi Liang (史良), Zhang Naiqi (章乃器), Shen Junru, Sha Qianli (沙千里), Li Gongpu (李公樸), and Zou Taofen (鄒韜奮).
Sources of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe.