Mao defeated Chiang four years later and the long story of the rise of modern China could begin. It is that neglect which has prompted Rana Mitter, professor of Chinese history at Oxford, to write the first full account of China's wartime resistance against Japan, restoring a vital part of the wartime narrative to its rightful place. Chinese fought Chinese, as well as Japanese. Neither the Soviet Union nor the western powers wanted to be involved in war in China, and none of them was much interested in supplying money or goods. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. The notional rulers of China, Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalist Kuomintang party, controlled a shrinking area of central and south-west China, fighting the Japanese with a poorly armed and trained army, and sometimes fighting the Chinese communists ensconced in China's north-west. The early years of war are in many ways the most arresting historically, partly because Chiang and Mao were largely on their own. One of the threads running through Mitter's account is Chiang's difficult relationship with the west, which treated him with a patronising disdain born of years of pseudo-imperialism.
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