As we look back to events that occurred more than 70 years ago it is too easy to recall the famous photographs of Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill and to overlook a fourth major ally, the Republic of China led by Chiang Kai-shek. China was at war with Japan from July 1937. What is sometimes called the Second Sino-Japanese War was the largest Asian war of the twentieth century. It accounted for the majority of civilian and military casualties in the Pacific War with between 10 and 25 million Chinese civilians and more than 4 million Chinese and Japanese military personnel dying from war-related violence, famine and other causes.
What impact did China's war have on the Second World War as a whole? How do we evaluate the contribution of China to the Allied campaign against the Axis powers? How did the battered China of 1937-1945 become today's superpower in the making, and why? There are few, if any, better qualified to guide us through these questions than this month's speaker, Rana Mitter, Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford, Deutsche Bank Director of the Dickson Poon China Centre, and a Fellow and Vice-Master of St Cross College. Professor Mitter's book China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival was published in 2013. Professor Mitter is also a regular presenter of Night Waves on BBC Radio 3.