The attack on the Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in 1941 signified the beginning of World War II in the Asia-Pacific region. Before that, the Japanese had occupied Chinese territory for over a decade. As a result, the Kuomintang and Communists joined forces to fight the soldiers from Japan. Back then, China was split into two factions; the Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists led by Mao Zedong.
The headquarters of the Nationalists was located at Chongqing, a town bordering the Yangtze River. On the other hand, Mao had a following of an estimated 100 million people. Despite their efforts, the Chinese did not contribute much to the Allied forces fight against the Japanese army. This is because the Nationalists were focused on fighting the Communists instead of Japan. Remarkably, Chiang Kai-shek received support from the US, the UK and the Soviet Union, though he put little into the battle against Japan.
In exchange for the support, the US compelled Chiang to join forces with the Communists in the fight against Japan. The combined troops contributed significantly to Japan’s downfall in World War II. As a result, China restored the sovereignty which it had lost for over a century. In fact, China became one of the Big Four powers that shaped the world in the post-war period.
The independence of China came at a steep price. It is estimated that over 35 million Chinese were killed by the Japanese during their 14-year rule over China.