The Sino-Japanese War and Soviet Aid to China, 1937–38

  • Jonathan Haslam
Part of the Studies in Soviet History and Society book series (SSHS)


Extremely uncertain of its position in Europe and before long gravely weakened economically and militarily by Stalin’s terror, the Soviet Union was not about to take any uncalculated risks in relation to Japan in 1937. Yet the maintenance of the status quo in the Far East — with Manchuria securely in the hands of the Japanese and with the Western Powers loath to intervene — was not to Soviet advantage either. Moscow therefore did its best to revive Chinese resistance to Japanese occupation, and in the spring of 1937 renewed its offer of arms to the KMT as a means to that end.1 For Chiang Kai-shek, however, there was little to be gained by accepting such an offer if it provoked the Japanese into further aggression. Nothing therefore came of the proposal. Furthermore the prospects for involving the Western Powers in a collective security system to contain Japan appeared as bleak as ever in Soviet eyes. Britain, under its new Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, used the growing crisis in Europe as a reason for appeasing Japan in Asia, and the threat from Japan to British colonies in Asia as a reason for appeasing Germany in Europe. France was now reeling from the belated impact of the Depression on its economy; it was increasingly polarised between left and right under the impact of the civil war in Spain; and its forces were self-evidently incapable of deterring both Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia. Roosevelt was by nature an internationalist, but his country was still stubbornly isolationist; thus although the United States unquestionably had the naval power to act against Japan, it lacked the will to intervene.


Unite Front Deputy Head Democratic Unite Front Soviet Delegation Naval Power 
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  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© Jonathan Haslam 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jonathan Haslam
    • 1
  1. 1.King’s CollegeCambridgeUK

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