Asia Pacific 1937: Fall of Nanjing

Japan's capture of Shanghai convinced Chiang Kaishek that his capital at Nanjing was indefensible, forcing him to relocate to Wuhan. Nanjing fell only days later. The Japanese followed their victory with six weeks of mass slaughter and atrocities, an event which drew international condemnation as the 'Rape of Nanking' (the contemporary spelling of Nanjing).


Treaty Ports

Treaty ports were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Treaty ports are not shown in the maps after the 1911 Chinese Revolution in order to give a clearer picture of the chaos in China itself and as by that point their numbers had stabilized. After the revolution, some of the smaller ports were phased out while the others became less important as the situation in China meant that only the concessions could provide foreigners with security. Most, however, still continued on into the 1940s when the Japanese entry into World War II and foreign agreements with China brought them to an end.

See this map for treaty ports in 1907, when the system was at its peak.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

13 Sep–11 Nov 1937 Japanese conquer northern Shanxi

Japanese conquer northern Shanxiin wikipedia

5 Oct 1937 Quarantine Speech

US President Franklin Roosevelt calls for for an international “quarantine of the aggressor nations”in wikipedia

1 Dec 1937 Nationalist Chinese government moves to Wuhan

Nationalist Chinese government moves to Wuhanin wikipedia

7–13 Dec 1937 Battle of Nanjing

Japanese capture Nanjing, former Nationalist Chinese capitalin wikipedia

12 Dec 1937 USS Panay incident

In December 1937 Japanese aircraft and army boats fired on and sank the USS Panay, an American gunboat anchored in the Yangtze River outside Nanjing, China, killing three crew and forcing the others to take refuge ashore. The Japanese government took full responsibility for the event, but maintained that the attack had been unintentional and that US flags had not been visible—claims disputed by the Panay‘s crew. On 22 April 1938, the Japanese paid the US a $2,214,007.36 indemnity, officially ending the wikipedia

13 Dec 1937–31 Jan 1938 Rape of Nanking

Japanese troops conduct mass slaughter and mass rape against inhabitants of Nanjing (Nanking)in wikipedia