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5. The Marco Polo Bridge Incident
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War, focusing in particular on: (i) the similarities between the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident and the 1931 Mukden Incident, which had led to the Japanese occupation of Manchuria; (ii) the rapidity with which the Marco Polo Bridge Incident escalated into full-scale war; (iii) the reasons that the Chinese response to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident were so much more robust than they had been in 1931; (iv) the domestic pressure on Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese government following criticism from the press, the assassination (or attempted assassination) of two senior Chinese officials in 1935, and the 1936 Xian Incident; and (v) the extent to which the agreements that ended the invasion of Manchuria – and particularly the 1933 Tanggu Truce – created an inherently unstable situation in northern China that was always going to lead to further conflict.
In this course, Dr Marjorie Dryburgh (University of Sheffield) explores the relationship between China and Japan between c.1840-1945, with a particular focus on the events that led to the outbreak of war between the two nations in July 1937. In the first module, we think about the longer-term political context of Sino-Japanese relations (from the mid-19th century onwards) before turning in the second module to consider the cultural relationship between China and Japan. In the third module, we think about the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, followed in the fourth module by an brief exploration of life in Japanese-occupied Manchuria (referred to by the Japanese as Manchukuo). In the fifth module, we think about why the Marco Polo Bridge Incident escalated so quickly into war, before turning in the sixth module to consider the Chinese experience of war more generally – including the notorious ‘Nanjing Massacre’ of December 1937. Finally, in the seventh module, we think about the incorporation of the Sino-Japanese War into the Second World War more generally – particularly after the Japanese attack on the US naval base at Pearl Harbor – and the (in)effectiveness of China’s international diplomacy in the face of the Japanese threat.
Dr Marjorie Dryburgh is Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies at the University of Sheffield. She works on the modern history of China, with specific interests in China’s relations with Japan before 1945, regional and urban histories, and the conventions and uses of life writing.
Cite this Lecture
Dryburgh, M. (2021, February 11). China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 - The Marco Polo Bridge Incident [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/china-sino-japanese-relations-c-1840-1945/the-marco-polo-bridge-incident
Dryburgh, M. "China – Sino-Japanese Relations, c.1840-1945 – The Marco Polo Bridge Incident." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 11 Feb 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/china-sino-japanese-relations-c-1840-1945/the-marco-polo-bridge-incident