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"Without Soviet help, China could just collapse"

"Without Soviet help, China could just collapse"

Alexander Lomanov

Chief Researcher of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Alexander Lomanov, doctor of historical sciences, chief researcher at the Institute of Far Eastern Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, - about the USSR and China during the Second World War specifically for EastRussia:

Many people of the slightly older generation remember well the documentary epic "The Great Patriotic War" (1979), which was made by the outstanding Soviet director Roman Karmen in collaboration with Western partners. The film was shown in the Soviet Union in the 1980s. At that time I was a schoolboy, and all the time it was not clear to me why in English it was called The Unknown War. The point is that the history and vision of the war is completely Western-centric. And it is no coincidence that the film was called "The Unknown War" on the Western market: for the average Western man, both the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union and China's anti-Japanese war are equally unknown, incomprehensible and seem to be something completely marginal, despite the importance of the events that took place on these fronts, and losses incurred. If you look at the latest polls, the average European man in the street believes that the Americans won with a little support from the British and, perhaps, from the French somewhere. And, in general, the Soviet Union and China are remembered last. Therefore, it is not worth saying that today the Second World War is remembered in connection with anti-Western sentiments. Rather, this is due to the fact that China is already able to convey its word, its version of history to the world community.

Formally, nothing has changed - the war, as it was, and remained, there were those huge casualties. Another thing is that the Chinese war has a lot of its own specific features, which are difficult for us to understand, since the war in the Soviet Union was highly mechanized. We remember the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of the Kursk Bulge with a huge number of aircraft, tanks and infantrymen on both sides. China, on the other hand, was so strongly backward, it was so bad with equipment and weapons that it was a stubborn, exhausting, sluggish guerrilla war, where people practically with their bare hands got themselves captured weapons from the Japanese, and then continued to fight further in order to defend their land from the Japanese invaders.

This war (this is also an important feature) has a Soviet version of the help of Soviet volunteers. And it is not in any way exaggerated, because without Soviet help in 1937-1938, China could simply collapse as a state, self-defense, integral unit, because when the Soviet Union provided more than a thousand aircraft, the Chinese were able to obtain only a hundred. With a hundred, they simply would not have stood against the Japanese. Then everything changed, and when 1941 came, and the Soviet Union found itself in a very difficult situation, it was simply impossible to continue aid in such volumes. And just 1941 (this is Pearl Harbor) - the entry into the war of the United States, and already the American aid poured there. Instead of Soviet volunteers, American pilots appeared there under the command of Shannolt (Claire Lee Chennult - Lieutenant General of the US Air Force, during World War II commanded the Flying Tigers Air Squadron in China, in which American volunteers fought - author's note). Therefore, let's say we have our own narrative of the participation of our volunteers in the war in China. The Americans have their own narrative that it was defeated by American volunteers under the command of Shannolt. And now the time has come when China is trying to combine all the narratives and tell the whole world about the role it played in World War II and the role that foreigners played in this war (I mean a positive role - as the Soviet Union, and Western Allies).

Historical memory does not become the source of some kind of power. Likewise, one can say that any illusionist interpretations of the Second World War, which are arranged by those who want to justify fascism and their militaristic manifestations, that they also want to become strong in this way. Just the falsification does not become true from this and does not give anyone any strength.

The process of rapprochement between China and Russia was quite logical, gradual; it has been unfolding for more than twenty years, since the 1990s. It can be recalled that the previous President of China, Hu Jintao, took part in the Parade on Red Square in Moscow twice - on the 60th and 65th anniversary of the Victory. It is by no means impossible to say that something unprecedented is happening with the visit of President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, violating the logic of world relations and traditions, because there is no reason for this. We can only say that relations between Russia and China have become closer, mutual understanding and interaction between the two countries is becoming wider, including in the field of historical memory.

It turned out that Xi Jinping will be the main guest at the Victory celebration, this is the head of the country - a member of the Security Council of the United Nations, this is our partner for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Therefore, modern politics, the economic importance of China in the world, its growing power are reinforced in this case also by the historical status of a very important and long-time ally of the Soviet Union in the Second World War.

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