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Surrender? What surrender? : Yan Xishan’s reconsolidation of power in Taiyuan July - August, 1945 Mitchell, James Alexander


In August 1945 North China found itself in a situation where 'defeated' Japanese troops were in possession of territory which was contested by several 'victors', including both rival Chinese and foreign military forces. Not only did this complicate the process of surrender, but it provided the opportunity and conditions for the resumption of civil war. The placement of Japanese troops in places throughout the country put them in a good position to counter CCP advances until such time that GMD troops could arrive to take the surrender. In Shanxi, warlord governor Yan Xishan - Jiang Jieshi's commander of the 2nd War Zone - had been living in quasi-exile in southwestern Shanxi. He took this formula one step further by negotiating a set of conditions, some of which had been in place before the surrender, under which the Japanese would 'surrender' only to his own troops, and in fact to join him to fight against the communists who surrounded the cities and rail lines. During the summer of 1945, in anticipation of surrender, Yan moved closer to Taiyuan, the capital, and began to negotiate his return there with the local Japanese commander, along with formal acceptance of the surrender. When the war ended, he was already moving his armies and himself toward the major cities, especially the Fen River basin around Taiyuan. The 8th Route Army in Shanxi held the majority of the province, for its own part, but their guerrilla strategy kept them away from the cities until after the surrender. Yan's familiarity with the Japanese allowed him a measure of flexibility throughout the war which facilitated collaboration. By 1945 a virtual ceasefire existed between them, and Yan moved his troops easily through their lines to attack the communists. In addition, both Yan and General Sumita in Taiyuan recognized that without each other they both faced certain defeat, and began preparing for the surrender in Shanxi. Power was to be transferred under this scheme to Yan alone. When the end of the war did come, then, Yan shuttled toward Taiyuan where, on August 30, he arrived by armoured car, protected by his own and Japanese troops. With Japanese soldiers still in positions along the rail lines and in many towns, He was not only able to protect himself as he returned to Taiyuan, but denied the communists the opportunity to expand from the countryside. There presently exists very little in English on this topic. Recent source material in Chinese, however, has made it possible to look in detail into the circumstances of these events, and confirms that the surrender in August 1945 represented neither the end of war nor the end of Japanese intervention in China.

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