WI the German's continued supporting the Chinese rather than Japan?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Braden Anderson, Feb 11, 2019.

  1. Braden Anderson Well-Known Member

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    Before the war, Germany had been much closer with China than Japan, and helped them become a much more formidable foe for Japan later on in OTL.
    Suppose Germany doubled down on this relationship in 1935, making it clear to the global community that China and Germany were allies.

    What is Japan's next move? Will they still try to attack China?
    Will they focus more on Pacific expansion?
    Would they still attack Pearl Harbor, and if not, when does the US join the war, if ever?
    Will China help attack the Soviet Union and/or French Indochina?
    What role does this play in China reunifying?
     

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  2. David T Well-Known Member

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    Nov 8, 2007
    I'll recycle an old post of mine on why it's hard to see the Nazis ultimately siding with China over Japan:

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    There is an interesting chapter entitled "Falling Between two stools: Nazi Germany's East Asian Policy" in Christian Leitz, *Nazi Foreign Policy, 1933-1941: The Road to Global War* (2004) where he notes that the Third Reich's originally friendly relations with China had their roots in the Weimar Republic. Both Germany and China (even though the latter was nominally one of the victors) considered themselves treated unfairly by the peace settlement. As early as 1921 the Chinese Republic reestablished diplomatic relations with Germany, and "Influential groups among Germany's business community, but also within the Reichswehr and the Foreign Ministry, both advocated and actively pursued an improvement of Germany's relationship to China. In the military sphere, this resulted in the highly controversial dispatch of German military advisers to Nanking in 1928, while in the economic field, German-Chinese trade relations expanded even during the Depression with a growing number of German companies establishing a presence in the country. From seventh place among Germany's export markets in 1929, China was to rise to third place seven years later." (p. 127) Japan, OTOH, was seen as a party to the oppressive Versailles Treaty (and as late as the early 1930s Japan failed to provide any support for the efforts of the Papen and Schleicher governments to reduce the military restrictions imposed on Germany by that treaty). German industrialists also complained about Japanese competition, Japanese copying of German goods, etc.

    For the first few years of the Third Reich, Hitler showed little interest in Far Eastern affairs, and the Foreign Ministry, headed by Neurath, tried to maintain a "balanced" policy toward China and Japan. (For a short period in the mid-1930s the chief military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek was none other than Gerneral Hans von Seeckt, one of the Reichswehr's leading officers during the 1920's.) Ribbentrop was the man who made the most strenuous efforts (even before he became Foreign Minister) to redirect the focus of German Far Eastern policy away from China and toward Japan, with whom he sought a real military alliance, not just the largely propagandistic Anti-Comintern Pact.

    So the question is: Without Ribbentrop, would Hitler still have changed Germany to a pro-Japanese orientation as he did after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War and especially from 1938 onward? (In 1938, the German ambassador was recalled from Peking and German representation was reduced to the level of chargé d'affaires; Manchukuo was officially recognized; and most important, German military advisers were recalled--although a small number resisted Nazi pressure and remained.) I think the answer is Yes, because once China lost most of her largest cities to Japan it was apparent that she could not do much for Germany economically. Moreover, she was obviously too weak--fighting for her own survival--to be of any military assistance. Japan, OTOH, was in a position to exert pressure on the Soviet Union (and to some extent on Britain and France through their colonies in the Far East) in peacetime and perhaps to be a German ally in case of war. Also, "The growing realisation that Britain would not conveniently fall into the position of ally 'alloted' it by Hitler reduced his concerns about antagonising the British when endorsing Japan's aggression in Asia." (p. 136)

    As Leitz notes, even after 1938 German-Chinese relations--even military relations--did not completely cease. For example, arms shipments were gradually curtailed after November 1937, but not stopped entirely: "For a time, and against Ribbentrop's express wishes, Goering remained clearly too keen to let the lucrative war material trade with China expire. When Goering finally ordered the cessation of arms exports to China in April 1938, contracts concluded prior to August 1937 were exempted...As late as 15 October 1939 Goering indirectly acknowledged that such exports had not yet ceased when he told Sven Hedin that 'we are not at all interested in the China of Chiang Kai-shek. We have furnished it with war materiel but are now going to stop these supplies.'" (p. 135) Furthermore, Germany did not break all diplomatic relations with Chiang's government until 2 July 1941. (p. 134)

    So Germany did not entirely eliminate relations with China, but there is no doubt that from 1938 on her basic orientation was toward Japan, and in view of the disparity in power between Japan and China, it is hard for me to see Hitler deciding otherwise, even without Ribbentrop. The only POD would be a much stronger China and weaker Japan, and that is not something which German policy in the 1930's would be able to bring about.
     
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  3. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    A second larger PoD, of no Japan/China War will leave Germany & the Facist KMT on good terms & natural Allies. The KMT had a long term goal of ending the Unequal Treaties & a second big European war could aid that.
     
  4. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

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    The problem with these threads about Germany backing the KMT leading to an Axis China is that while, yes, Germany backed Chiang- so did every other Great Power.
    Even if Germany decides to keep backing the Nationalists, that doesn't change the strategic calculations that led the Soviets, the UK, the USA and the French to side with the Nanjing government against Japan and indeed the CCP.
    Moreover, German support is also not enough to push the Chinese into the Axis camp. While they certainly wanted to renegotiate the unequal treaties, the KMT knew that their regime was absolutely dependent (in peace and war) on clear lines of supply through either open ports or via land routes through Burma, Indochina and Central Asia.
    Any friendship with Germany will end the moment that China is asked to cut its own throat by compromising those routes.
    Nor does Chinese friendship with Germany do anything to divert Japan's interests from China, or stop Japan's hegemonic project in China from directly conflicting with- again- every other Great Power.

    So in this scenario China will be stronger, but it will still align with the Allies and indeed Soviets when it has to make a choice.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  5. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

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    Would the Germans have supported a ATL China where the latter became a Post-Xinhai Revolution Constitutional monarchy (under the Duke of Yansheng as the Later Yin Dynasty) where the ATL nationalists come to power due to the latter's concerns about the Soviet Union and Japan?
     
  6. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

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    The problem there is that in that scenario China will be so fundamentally different- no warlord era, no rapid growth of the CCP, no direct Japanese rule in Manchuria- that the entire inciting conditions for the Pacific War won't exist. It's too big a change to take as read and then worry about how Europe would react.
     
  7. David T Well-Known Member

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    The basic problem is that Japan's terms were recognition of Manchukuo and Japanese economic hegemony (and a military presence) in northern China. Even if Chiang himself would be willing to accept these terms, they were just too unpopular for him to do so. Evan an authoritarian regime like Chiang's could not overlook popular opinion. "Beginning in late 1935, however, anti-Japanese sentiment had become so virulent that the National government felt constrained to harden its response to the Japanese." https://books.google.com/books?id=6Wrw4RrFpUkC&pg=PA120
     
  8. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    When's China's friend, Germany causing problems and Europe Japan will have a free hand to deal with China as they see fit.
    No oil embargo, no war with the United States. That means the U.S Navy will be free to focus all its resources on the battle of the Atlantic. The battle of the Atlantic going to be over for all intents and purposes by 1943.
     
  9. thaddeus Well-Known Member

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    they could follow von Seeckt's strategy (from 1920's) of continued relations with USSR and China. after their victory over France, they could reach all the way to Indochina to barter for resources?

    the longer they could collaborate with Soviets the better the chance they are drawn into the war?
     
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  10. Max Sinister Retired Myriad Club Member Banned

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    So or so, they'd have a hard time coopoerating, since they're still separated by some thousand miles of allied territory.
     
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  11. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

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    A rough notional TL

    1935-38: Internal politics in Japan cause the 'China War' faction to lose their ability to start a war. KMT strengthens ties with Nazi Germany

    1938-1940: .Japan becomes increasingly worried about pressure from both China & the USSR. Rapprochement with Britain & increased ties to the US sought.

    1940: France collapses. China sees the opportunity to degrade or even end the Unequal Treaties. The French Concessions are effectively ended, pressure short of war exerted against the Brits, Portuguese, US & others. China considers it's options for Indo China.

    1941: Germany attacks the USSR. China manages some minor border skirmishes. Churchill frets over a German-China connection via Persia Afghanistan. The USSR seeks war material from Japan. The US has discarded War Plan ORANGE & WP YELLOW receives much attention.

    1942:. US & Germany are at war. China attacks remaining Concessions, & Japanese on Manchurian border. Allied Forces execute the twin operations of GYMNAST EAST & GYMNAST WEST, landing armies in French NW Africa & French Indochina. Chinese armies March south towards the Red River region & Hanoi.
     
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  12. SenatorChickpea Well-Known Member

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    Again- why does China go after the western powers when the Nanjing government's position is dependent upon rapid industrialisation fueled by western capital?
    In your timeline, their supposed ally is cut off in 1939 when the Royal Navy closes German sealanes. That will force the KMT to reorient towards those powers who can actually help them- everyone who is not German or Japanese, in fact.
    The KMT also somehow overcomes the vast and angry anti-Japanese consensus that forced it to take a stand in 1937. Just... because?
    And then they decide that rather than turning their military on the remaining pockets of China they don't control, or indeed the massive and threatening Japanese presence in Manchuria- they decide to start a war that will require them to put garrisons along their entire border from the Gobi to Indochina.

    The Germans can back China more. There is absolutely no reason that the Chinese will in turn back the Germans.
     
  13. Alex1guy First Of His Name

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    Yeah theres this giant problem