On Aug. 25, 1945, just 10 days after Victory over Japan Day, U.S. Army Capt. John Birch, a devout Baptist and Mandarin speaker, was murdered in northern China by Chinese communist soldiers—the United States’ erstwhile “allies” in its fight against the Japanese.
“Birch was shot in the thigh, carried to a cinder pile near the train station, and bayoneted to death,” Richard Bernstein wrote in his book “China 1945.” “The body was found wrapped in a straw mat, the hands and feet were bound. There was a large wound in the left thigh, a large hole in the right shoulder, and the whole face had been mutilated beyond recognition.”
Nine months earlier, on Dec. 7, 1944, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had organized a rescue mission by its 8th Route Army of the 11 U.S. crew members of a downed B-29 Superfortress bomber in Japanese-controlled Hebei province.
The CCP’s high-profile rescue of downed U.S. airmen and, in the next breath, the killing of Birch was in sync with Zhou Enlai’s communist strategy of “da da tan tan” or “fight fight talk talk” when dealing with the United States—a CCP tactic that continues to this day.
There was nothing heroic in rescuing a few downed U.S. airmen. It was, after all, the Americans who were taking the fight to the Japanese while the CCP sat back and waited.
Mao Zedong always had his sights set on killing his fellow Chinese—not the invading Japanese nor the Americans who stayed on to help China avoid civil war.
As military historian Antony Beevor explained in “The Second World War,” following the October 1938 Central Committee plenum, Mao’s policy was strict: “Communist forces were not to fight the Japanese, unless attacked. They were to conserve their strength for seizing territory from the Nationalists. Mao made clear that Chiang Kai-shek was their ultimate opponent, their ‘enemy No. 1.’”
Bernstein’s account revealed that “the Communists were extremely successful in propagating the notion that they had struggled bitterly, bravely, and continuously against the invader, but their million-man army had engaged in only small-scale hit-and-run attacks.”
Beevor said that by 1943, British intelligence was certain the communists had made an unofficial deal with the Japanese, under which both sides restricted their operations against each other.
But the myth of the CCP’s war heroism has now become part of the Western lexicon.
Beevor wrote that: “Smedley, Theodore White, and other influential American writers could not accept for a moment that Mao might turn out to be a far worse tyrant than Chiang Kai-shek. The personality cult, the Great Leap Forward which killed more people than in the whole of the Second World War, the cruel madness of the Cultural Revolution and the seventy million victims of a regime that was in many ways worse than Stalinism proved totally beyond their imagination.”
The West’s capitulation to the CCP’s rewriting of history was apparent in an article about the treasures from the National Palace Museum of Taipei earlier this year, when The Australian columnist Christopher Allen wrote, “During the war, communists and Nationalists co-operated in the struggle against Japan, but in its aftermath, and especially from 1948, the communists regained the upper hand.”
Mao didn’t cooperate with the Nationalists. Mao cooperated with the Japanese to defeat the Nationalists. And pre-1948, the communists never had “the upper hand.”
In a more recent example, Alex Last of the BBC World Service claimed on Aug. 9 in the “Witness History” podcast that the Chinese communist attack on the British rescue ship HMS Amethyst and its subsequent escape in 1949 signaled “the restoration of Chinese sovereignty.”
Are Last and his employer able to explain how the 70 million victims of the CCP are enjoying their “Chinese sovereignty,” not to mention the 2 million protesters in Hong Kong?
The CCP stole and betrayed China’s sovereignty.
Such references to the CCP’s revisionist history simply help perpetuate the myth that the rise of Mao—who was one of history’s worst mass murderers—was somehow inevitable.
The CCP in Hong Kong
In May 2018, it became apparent that the Royal Geographical Society–Hong Kong (RGS-HK) had fallen victim to the CCP’s United Front—a program run out of Beijing that works to subvert free and open societies around the world to the Communist Party’s will.
In a talk named “The Hong Kong Independent Battalion: The Story of the Secret Resistance Fighters of HK during the Japanese Occupation of 1941–1945,” the RGS-HK hosted speakers touting the CCP’s guerrilla fighters who followed the Japanese into Hong Kong’s New Territories as “independence” fighters for Hong Kong.
The speakers included Tsui Yuet-ching, the author of “The Hong Kong Independent Battalion.”
“Almost at the same time of the British surrender, units of the Dong Jiang People’s Anti-Japan Guerrilla Force that had been active in Guangdong secretly followed the Japanese invaders into the territory. They organised themselves into the Hong Kong Independent Battalion and set up a network around the territory,” the RGS-HK said on its website.
The Dong Jiang People’s Anti-Japan Guerrilla Force was created by the CCP, as was the inappropriately named Hong Kong Independent Battalion (HKIB).
Chiang Kai-shek had made it clear that he wanted Hong Kong returned to China once hostilities had ended. But true to Mao’s policy, the CCP wouldn’t just allow Hong Kong to become Nationalist territory without a fight.
Once Hong Kong Gov. Mark Young surrendered to the Japanese on Christmas Day 1941, the communist guerrilla fighters moved into Hong Kong, assisted by New Territories villagers.
In her book, Tsui Yuet-ching claimed that “intellectuals” were rescued from Hong Kong under the order of Zhou Enlai, who she wrongly claimed was Minister of State in the Chinese government at the time. All the intellectuals went on to become writers in communist China.
This escape route became reversed 48 years later, with intellectuals during the Tiananmen Massacre escaping from China to Hong Kong.
Tsui Yuet-ching wrote in the chapter “Cleaning Up Local Problems” that HKIB forces “subsequently had many battles with dozens of local criminals, often either killing them, or evicting them from the villages they were terrorising. This helped build long-lasting relationships with local villagers.”
The British government wouldn’t have asked the CCP to send its soldiers into Japanese-occupied Hong Kong.
Without any legal authority, the killings would have been extrajudicial executions by the CCP. Perhaps the “local criminals” were people who didn’t want the communists in Hong Kong.
Tsui Yuet-ching’s attempts to legitimize the communists’ involvement in Hong Kong during the war years is particularly troublesome considering the recent attacks on pro-democracy protesters in the New Territories.
Fortunately for the people of Hong Kong, Churchill insisted that the territory be returned to Britain at the end of World War II.
If Hong Kong had been handed to Chiang Kai-shek, as U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted, Mao’s Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution would have utterly destroyed Hong Kong, including the vibrant Hakka culture of the New Territories villages that had provided the communist guerrillas with so much support.
The unelected CCP doesn’t own China and doesn’t own the Chinese people.
The United States can recognize this by severing diplomatic relations with the regime, reopening formal ties with Taiwan. In doing so, it can show support to the many Chinese people who desire to live in a CCP-free society—including the people of Hong Kong.
Mark Tarrant is a Sydney-based lawyer. He spent his childhood in Hong Kong where he attended Kowloon Junior School and King George V School. Mark has vivid memories of the impact of the Cultural Revolution on Hong Kong, including the threat of imminent invasion by the PLA and local bombings.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.