Japan’s fundamental national policy was to invade China and dominant the world. Since the September 18th Incident in 1931, Japan undertook gradual occupation from Northeast China and North China successively. Following the Xi’an Incident (西安事變), Japan accelerated its annexation of China when it saw that the Kuomintang of China (KMT, 中國國民黨) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP, 中國共產黨) had ceased the civil war.
On 7 July 1937, the Japanese Army was conducting military exercises in the area near Marco Polo Bridge southwest of Beiping (北平). On the pretext of searching for a “missing soldier”, the Japanese Army requested to enter Wanping (宛平). After it was firmly refused by the Chinese side, the Japanese Army then opened fire on the Chinese Army and bombarded the city later that night. Ji Xingwen (吉星文), Jin Zhenzhong (金振中) and other officers of the 29th Corps led their troops to fight back vigorously in what later known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident (or the July 7th Incident, 盧溝橋事變). The incident shocked China and the world, and the former could no longer turned a blind eye to Japanese aggression.
On 17 July, Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), the Chairman of the Military Commission of the Republic of China, declared in Lushan (廬山) China’s armed resistance to Japan. On 14 August, China formally published the Declaration of the Nationalist Government on Self-Defence and Military Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. Concurrently, the second KMT-CCP cooperation was formed to repel Japanese aggression. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident sparked off Japan’s full-scale invasion of China and China’s Eight-year Total War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).
The Marco Polo Bridge and its surrounding areas during the War of Resistance. On the right is Wanping.
Both photos taken on 7 July 1937 show Chinese soldiers garrisoning on the Marco Polo Bridge located southwest of Beiping. Left: Chinese soldiers garrisoning at the Lugou Xiaoyue Pavilion. Right: a Chinese soldier carrying a rifle to guard the bridge and stacking sandbags between poles topped with stone lions.
On 7 July 1937, the Japanese Army was conducting military exercises in the area near the Marco Polo Bridge. On the pretext of searching for a “missing soldier”, the Japanese Army requested to enter Wanping. In what later known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident or the July 7th Incident, the Japanese Army launched an attack after being rejected by the Chinese side. The above painting created by the Japanese military artist on the army shows the Japanese forces attacking the Marco Polo Bridge and Wanping.
Ji Xingwen, who led the defence of the Marco Polo Bridge and Wanping in July 1937.
The Chinese Army fighting the Japanese strenuously on the Marco Polo Bridge during the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
The Chinese Army inside Wanping rushing to the front line to resist Japanese attack during the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
The Japanese forces bombarding Wanping during the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
Left: “Pictorial of the North China Incident”, an extra published by the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun to spotlight the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This pictorial reported the surprise attack conducted on the Chinese Army by the Japanese Garrison Army in China on the night of 9 July 1937. It shows the Japanese Army chanting “Long live the Emperor” after it returned from the attack. Right: a map exhibiting the military situation of the Chinese and Japanese armies around the Marco Polo Bridge area on 19 July 1937.
Chiang Kai-shek, the Chairman of the Military Commission of the Republic of China, declaring the Total War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression at Lushan on 17 July 1937. In his address, he emphasised, “North or south, old or young - everyone must take up the responsibility of defending our homeland and resisting the Japanese invasion at all costs. Only by sacrificing with determination and fighting to the bitter end that we will ever achieve ultimate victory.” This speech was seen as China’s declaration of the Total War of Resistance Against Japan.
Left: the Declaration of the Nationalist Government on Self-Defence and Military Resistance Against Japanese Aggression issued on 14 August 1937. Right: on 15 July 1937, the CCP issued the Declaration of the CCP Central Committee to Announce the KMT-CCP Cooperation, also known as the Declaration of the CCP to Announce the KMT-CCP Cooperation, and sent it to the Nationalist Government. On 22 September, the KMT Central News Agency published it with the title the Declaration on a United Front for National Salvation. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident prompted the second KMT-CCP cooperation to resist Japanese invasion.
Sources of most photos used in this feature piece: Fotoe.