The Mandarin Observer - A Chinese ATL

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Statements of the Participants of Operation Shi Lang (21st September)
'Operation Shi Lang' refers to the liberation of Taiwan, named after the Chinese admiral who conquered Taiwan for the Great Qing in 1683. Plans for the operation began in 1919 and the military was designed accordingly, with the Air Force and the Navy being given special focus in development. The government continued the previous regime's plans to expand the Navy, buying several battleships from foreign powers and incorporating their design elements into new Chinese ships and experimenting with submarines. The Air Force was equipped with a special naval branch for the purpose of attacking enemy ships in support of the naval invasion.

Now, that the operation is underway, employees from the Board of Information have been attached to members of the armed services to acquire their points of view and experiences on the operation. Normally stringent censorship regulations have been eased to encourage candid discussions.

Imperial Air Force
Chiang Wang, 1st Naval Squadron​

"I absolutely dreaded the day when war would break out between China and Japan. Ever since the establishment of the Imperial Air Force, we were based near Xiamen and we were educated on our assigned tasks when the time would come. When the time came, I found it hard to swallow as our commander assigned us our area of operations. When the spearhead entered into Korea, the order came down for the liberation of Taiwan to begin.

I felt sorry for the bastards in the infantry. They were crammed into these small boats that barely looked big enough to fit animals into. They were then dragged out to sea by frigates. Our job was to protect the ships and boats until they got to Taiwan, so we were sent up first. We had a mission to find the enemy's 2nd Fleet, which we knew to be operating in the area.

We expected harsh weather, but it was surprisingly clear, all things considered. We flew four at a time in a V formation to protect the three bombers. I was looking at my watch when bullets started striking my frame. We had encountered enemy spotters, three of them. I don't know what's going on on the other side, but these spotters had no weapons. All it took to bring them down was some precise flying and hitting their tail fins. We found the fleet, which was only three cruisers[1] and a carrier, sitting just off the coast of Zhejiang Province. We swarmed the carrier, machine gunning the crewmen on the flight decks and just as I directed my craft upwards, the bomber dropped it's payload on the lower and uppermost flight decks. There was smoke pluming from the wrecked runways. That bomber crew had rendered them useless.

The other two bombers had the job of striking the bridges of any warships they could find. The ships had 20 centimetre guns, so they weren't much of a threat to the bomber. One of the cruisers got a lucky shot and blew a bomber's wing off as it was about to bomb the first ship, but the bomber landed right on the smokestacks of the ship. There was a massive explosion. I think the bomber may have hit the enemy's boiler.

Our main objectives were to render the carrier useless and destroy at least one of the cruisers. We achieved both objectives, so we retreated.


The aircraft carrier wrecked by our air forces. The enemy calls it the Akagi.

Imperial Chinese Army
Private Deng Xiao, 1st Taiwan Army​

We must've caught the enemy in the middle of digging trenches because storming Makung was easier than we thought it would be. All four boats rammed aground and the Japs began shooting at us as soon as our feet touched the sand, blazing us with their machine guns. The soldier in front of me was filled with lead and he fell backwards towards me, but I pushed his body forward, to use it as a shield against the bullets. One of the boats contained one of our mortar teams and two of them had their faces blown off before they could get off the boat. The survivors set up their 50 pound mortars from inside the boat and blew the trenches sky high and made those Japs run for their everlasting lives.

As we were the advance guard, we had to wait an hour, for the rest of the invasion force to be offloaded onto the beaches. We pressed on outwards to seize the rest of the tiny island. We established our forward operating base there and set up our heavy field guns to pummel the West Coast of Taiwan. We did this for three days straight and when we landed on the West Coast, there were dead Japanese bodies and craters everywehre. We had landed, just as the Japs had in 1895, in Gonglio while the secondary force had landed further downwards at Fangliao.

We then sought to link up at Tainan. We pushed towards the administrative building and then the Japanese threw themselves at us with banzai charges. Nothing a machine gun couldn't fix. We found their commanding officer in his tent, with a knife in his stomach. He had slit the throat of his comfort woman. We found half a dozen comfort women locked in the building's basement, butt naked and terrified. Fucking Jap savages.

Tomorrow, we are going to take the fight to Taipei.


The artillery utilized on Makung

Imperial Chinese Navy
Xi Xiaoping, ICS Xiezhi

As a sailor, I was quite pleased to hear that war had been declared. The August and Blessed Government had been modernizing the Navy, including building new destroyers and expanding my pride and joy, the submarine. We were finally going to get some use out of them.

My submarine had the job of interdicting Japanese reinforcements to Taiwan's southern coast alongside the Hai Chi. We stationed ourselves in the Pacific. The Japs had let the garrison decay somewhat in previous years and we intended for that to continue. We weren't given permission to take quarter.

Our first sinking of the night occurred not long after we approached our position. I identified it through the periscope as a frigate and the captain immediately ordered it sunk. The ship sunk in less than two minutes. Another frigate entered my sight. That one took one minute.

Through the periscope, I could see the oil slicks starting to form on the ocean. The moonlight made them glisten on the water. I then noticed a growing number of Japanese sailors in lifeboats. I reported this to the captain. He thought about this for a minute, but decided to leave them alone. "We're sailors, not killers", he said. He even allowed us to come up alongside the lifeboats and throw them some food. I think aside from the Army, the Navy is the branch that allows you to be the most human. All the Air Force does is go around and bomb things to hell and back. I don't hate the Japanese people, but I do hate the Japanese military for putting us in a position where we had to sink these men's ships. These sailors were pawns. Their Emperor is not a god, but they are taught to kill themselves for him if necessary. These sailors were young boys too. They told me in Mandarin that they were either midshipmen or ensigns,

We rejoiced when news came over the wire that we had troops on Taiwan and the Imperial High Command even gave us a special mention for 'giving the Japs nothing to drink but oil and nothing to eat but shells'.


A sailor records the sinking of a Japanese ship​
Logistics, defence line blamed for slowing advance - 3rd October 1931
The previously lightning offensive of the Chinese Army into Korea has been halted by, according to the Board of War, a elongated logistics line and the stubborn enemy defence.

The Japanese have set up a defensive line between Namp'o, Pyongyang and Wonsan, consisting of artillery positions, barricades and trenches, which is blunting nay advance by the Imperial Army. This would be bad enough, without the long periods without crucial supplies over the mountainous Korean-Chinese frontier. It has been reported that a stalemate, reminiscent of that on the Western Front of the Great War, has emerged.

The Korean government has ordered that rationing be introduced in the liberated territories in order to shorten the supply routes and the government has also ordered ammunition factories to be built.

On the front-line, a Korean soldier is being tended to by a Chinese medic for a bullet in the heart. After barely removing the bullet, the medic tells the reporter. "He is a young boy playing soldier. He was winning, until his gun ran out of bullets and the Jap had three more. The Japs don't have to put up with mountains blocking supply routes",

But, another factor is being blamed for the slowing advance: the sheer determination of the Japanese soldier. Standing at five feet three inches with a weight of 117 pounds, he is paid ten yen per month and unlike the Chinese soldier, his uniform is ill-fitting and comical. But these soldiers are not comical. He is hard, able, knowledgeable of his duty and as is shown by their defense of the three cities, he can endure great challenges. For him, being a soldier is the ultimate form of expressing his humanity. To him, death is a honour to be sought and achieved.

In the West, the Japanese soldier is derided as a backwards, Asiatic savage, but we know better. In order to win this war, we must understand our enemy and the root of his determination. To quote Sun Tzu, "if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles", We must overcome the tenacity and determination of the Japanese soldier with our own tenacity and demonstration, so that we may bring freedom to Korea and protect our homeland.


Chinese soldiers enjoying a brief respite before battle


Korean volunteers before being deployed to the Korean Front
No mention of Ryukyu in the war declaration?

Depending on butterflies other colonisations of Japanese islands like Okinotori (not claimed OTL until 1931) are up for grabs.
As usual, this TL is awesome. Not surprising the Qing newspapers reeks of propaganda.

The involvement of Koreans in this TL will be interesting for the Korean peninsula in the future. However, will the Americans get involved in Korea? Hopefully, it won't be Korean War just like RL. A much powerful China will not allowed it.
The involvement of Koreans in this TL will be interesting for the Korean peninsula in the future. However, will the Americans get involved in Korea? Hopefully, it won't be Korean War just like RL. A much powerful China will not allowed it.
No. This is strictly a Sino-Japanese war. The Americans won't get involved in Asia until this timeline's Cold War, which is at least 20 years away.
Jap defensive line broken - 15th October 1931
The Japanese defensive line in Korea has been broken at Kangson-ni.

On the night of the 4th, five hours of artillery fire, divided into three phases, heralded the breach as high explosive shells fell upon defensive positions near the town of Kangson-ni, deemed to be the weakest link in the defense. Specially-equipped units were then sent into the breach to destroy enemy artillery positions, enemy headquarters and supply depots. In regular situations, the enemy would run, but the Japanese stood their ground to fight, resulting in severe casualties.

A similiar offensive overwhelmed the enemy defence at Wonsan, with the Japanese garrison also engaging in a spirited and intense defence of the city.

Both armies are marching in direction of Pyongyang and the Board of War has said that the battle for Pyongyang, possibly the first true battle of the war, is on the horizon.
Government prepares charter for first Chinese car company as Ford suffers - 1st December 1929
(Threadmark title quoted into body)

As the Great Depression continues to sweep the world, the Chinese automobile industry has been placed in danger by the potential withdrawal of Ford Motor Company from the Chinese market.

While the Ford Motor Company hasn't explicitly declared their intent to leave China, its spokesman for Chinese Operations has said that operations within the country will be substantially reduced to cope with the economic turmoil wrought on the company by the collapse of the American stock market in October.
This is way too early. The effects of the Crash on the larger US economy were not apparent for several months. Indeed, OTL the stock market recovered for four months, and no one spoke of a "Depression" until 1930 - much less a "Great Depression".
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Pyongyang liberated, Japs in retreat - 25th October 1931
It was a long and hard fought battle, but after almost a month of intense struggle, the city of Pyongyang has seen freedom for the first time since 1910.

Amidst the blasted ruins and numerous dead, Chinese and Korean forces have held a celebratory parade down Pyongyang's main road. Being the natives of the country, the Koreans, of course, took the lead, bellowing out their national anthem to the praise of the locals.

Spokesman for Imperial Affairs Pu Yi watched the parade alongside Generals Feng and Ding, the chief masterminds of the Imperial victory, and of course, the President of Korea.

"To Korea, we give your freedom back", Pu Yi proclaimed to the cheering crowds of Korean soldiers and civilians. "Half of your country remains under Japanese tyranny, but I feel that your brothers and sisters will see freedom soon enough!"


Pyongyang as it looks after liberation

The city was besieged on all sides by the Chinese/Korean forces. Much like the breakthrough at Wonsan, an artillery barrage was unleashed against the city to soften up the defences of the city. When the forces marched on the city, fighting quickly turned to house-to-house combat, with troops from both sides engaging in vicious hand-to-hand combat.

Japanese soldiers hid in the ruins, picking off unlucky souls with their bayonets or grenades hidden within the corpses of the fallen, both ours and theirs. According to Chinese soldiers, their experience in Pyongyang was less of a battle than it was 'rat-hunting'-trying to spook the Japanese soldiers out of their hideaways.

Tanks played a important part in this so-called 'rat-hunt', spitting out bullets against any Japanese soldier unlucky enough to find themselves in their lines of sight.

if some accounts are to be believed, the process was overly tedious, with resources being stretched to eliminate particular enemy cells.

Of course, Japanese troops from the garrison at Wonsan attempted to strike the armies protecting the western flank surrounding the city. The aggressive and unrelenting offensive, with death coming from above in the form of the Japanese Army Air Service. The enemy attempted to cut the city off from the elongated uspply chain, but an combined fighter-bomber offensive from the Shandong Peninsula removed the enemy's air cover and sunk their logistics in the East China Sea, allowing the ground forces to mop up the Japanese attempting to break the siege.


Chinese soldiers undertaking their duty


A cameraman from the Board of Information

The most tightly-defended place in the entire city were the ruins of the Pyongyang City Hall, with machine guns splattering unlucky souls on the roads of Pyongyang. That too, soon fell under the weight of a artillery barrage.


Pyongyang City Hall before the battle

Pyongyang was once an ancient city, dating back to 1122 BC if Korean mythology is correct. It ws the capital of two Korean kingdoms, the Gojoseon and the Goyurero. Much like now, it was destroyed in the First Sino-Japanese War, but it was rebuilt then and in line with the spirit of the Korean soldier to persevere and triumph, it will be rebuilt again.

To the north of the city, the Chinese sage Kija, the supposed founder of the city, is buried. Chinese soldiers have reportedly attended the burial site en-masse before and after the battle.

President Yi Dong-nyeong has declared that Pyongyang will be reconstructed to resemble how it was before the war. "Authentic cultural norms will be followed in the recreation of this treasure of a city. We will not take inspiration from other powers and their inferior forms of architecture",[1]

Numerous state-owned enterprises have vowed to bankroll the reconstruction of not just Pyongyang, but the entire Korean nation, though the money will at first trickle through to prevent China from sinking into economic depression like the rest of the world and of course, national projects must take priority before foreign ventures.


Pyongyang before the war and so it will look in years to come

It has been reported that the Imperial Japanese Army has staged a full retreat from the surrounding area to the area surrounding Pammujom, a mere sixty kilometres from the city of Seoul. As a result, Wonsan and other important areas have been occupied by Chinese/Korean troops without struggle, though the Japanese enacted a scorched earth policy to destroy the local infrastructure.

According to official military reports...

3,000 - 5,000 Chinese soldiers killed in action
3,000 wounded in action
10,000 Japanese soldiers killed
20 Japanese taken prisoner

[1] For an explanation as to what the President is talking about when he talks about rejecting foreign nations and their 'inferior forms of architecture', this is how the North Koreans rebuilt Pyongyang after OTL's Korean War
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Damn, that's pretty lopsided. Seems like the Chinese are making headway down the peninsula, but how sustainable are those sorts of losses going forward?
Especially so many more killed than wounded, which is fairly unlikely considering that casualties tended to be more wounded than killed...
I fixed the casualty numbers. Looks like I accidentally flipped the numbers
Ok, that looks a lot better. I would still expect the Japanese to have a better showing (they are on the defensive after all, although the tanks help, likely a lot...), so how about 3-5 thousand dead chinese and 3000-6000 wounded?
At least, the Chinese have advantages in numbers.

But be careful, the IJA is into the silly 'Bushido' stuff, they might put up with Kamikaze-style attacks next once it's clear the Chinese is going to win. Hope the Chinese commanders are aware of IJA's suicidal mentality.
But be careful, the IJA is into the silly 'Bushido' stuff, they might put up with Kamikaze-style attacks next once it's clear the Chinese is going to win. Hope the Chinese commanders are aware of IJA's suicidal mentality.
They're already using banzai charges against the Chinese, so I think the Chinese commanders are aware of their suicidal mentality. Nothing a machine gun can't fix.
Japanese government close to dissolution? - 10th November 1931 New
As the Imperial Army prepares for an offensive to capture Seoul, leaked cabinet minutes would appear to indicate that the Japanese government is falling apart.

Under their deeply flawed Constitution, a government cannot be formed without the input of officers from the Army and Navy. Both of which have recieved a pasting at the hands of our own superior Imperial Chinese Army and the Imperial Air Force. The leftist magazine Kaizo[1] has released minutes of a supposed meeting of the Japanese cabinet, helmed by Japanese Prime Minister Wakatsuki Rejiro.

Jiro Minami: Our losses in Korea are catastrophic and they can solely be blamed on the failure of the Navy to collaborate with the Army.

Kiyokazu Abe: I resent that notion. It was the Army's lust for conquest that got us into this mess to begin with!

Jiro Minami: Yes, and it is the Navy's job to be subordinate to the Army!

Kiyokazu Abe: Yes, that is why you encouraged the Emperor to force us to follow your whims. And now look where we are. One carrier wrecked and one cruiser sunk while trying to protect Taiwan and a dozen more ships sunk in the East China Sea. You should've let us destroy the naval base at Guangdong. There, the carrier could've been useful.

Jiro Minamir: Such a move would've left the Navy vulnerable to attack. Taiwan is sacred Japanese territory. Defending it was more important than sinking a few Chinese ships. As you said, the Emperor gave the Army the final say on military operations.

Kiyokazu Abe: And yet, you screwed up the defense of Taiwan. Taipei has fallen, in case you didn't know.

Jiro Minami: Don't remind me of your failures.

Wakashi Rejiro: Gentlemen! Gentlemen! Please settle down!

Kiyokazu Abe: You tell this idiot that thanks to him, Shigeru,[2] and Senjuro[3], we're losing Korea!

Jiro Minami: Shigeru and Senjuro acted on their own free will. and I am the sole reason why they haven't raped and pillaged their way through Korea. You tell this idiot that thanks to him, China now dominates the air and sea!

Kiyokazu Abe: If you had listened to the Navy when China began to respond, then we would've been at peace![4]

Jiro Minami: At peace with whom? A enemy that would have us kiss their feet? The Navy is a weak and feeble institution! That naval treaty you love so much is the reason why the Navy is being reduced to slicks of oil!

Kiyokazu Abe: At least that treaty kept the peace!
Some of our people have called on the August and Blessed Government to begin negotiations with the Japanese government. This newspaper asks: what government? Japan, as of right now, is a rudderless ship with a monkey in charge of the controls. The Great Qing wants peace. Even the Emperor has made his wishes known to the Board of War that he desires a peaceful settlement, but the Japanese are not capable of accepting any kind of peace because of how their government is arranged. It is stuck in the age of the samurai, where the military elite must have higher opinions than everyone else. if the Army and the Navy pull out of the Japanese government, then the government effectively collapses. [5]

This is why it is invaluable to support our men fighting in Korea and Taiwan. If the Japanese are too immature to accept a fair peace, then we will give them a Roman peace. We will make mountains of Japanese corpses and ship them straight to Tokyo to show the warlords the end result of fighting a China that is united and proud.


Jiro Minami


Kiyokazu Abe

[1] A real magazine in OTL Japan which was one of the few voices that spoke out against the invasion of Manchuria.
[2] 'Shigeru' is Shigeru Honjo, commander in chief of the Kwuntung Army and chief mastermind of the invasion of Manchuria
[3] 'Senjuro' is General Senjuro Hayashi, commander of Japan's garrison in Korea and one of the masterminds behind the invasion of Manchuria.
[4] In OTL, Kiyokazu Abe was supportive of the Anglo-Japanese Treaty and the Washington Naval Treaty.
[5] I'm having a writer's block right now to determine how to resolve the war without it being crazily implausible.
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