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The Taiping Rebellion has been regarded as the greatest war in modern Chinese history. But how did infectious diseases affect military actions and the population during the war? Research has thus far failed either to explain the issues fully or has even denied the standard views of medical scholars. The purpose of this essay is not only to answer the above question, but also to discuss how and what kinds of infectious diseases affected the populations in Taiping-controlled areas. Through this model case, we further try to explain historical instances of the "great rise and fall" in Chinese demography. Infectious diseases greatly reduced the number of the soldiers in the army, affected the progress of the war, and prolonged the war, especially in the reign of Tongzhi when the epidemic disease cholera had a dramatic effect on the course of the war.
Infectious diseases were also the main factor behind the war's death toll. Acute contagious diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, and typhoid fever were aggravated by the war, but their rates of infection were not very high and so their death rate remained relatively low. Similarly, severe infectious diseases intensified the war, but plague and smallpox only infected a few areas. However, classical biotype cholera was quite different. It began to spread in the latter stages of the war and became an epidemic in war zones. It had a destructive effect on the people whose immune systems were already weakened. According to the rural legends of the Wannan Area, it was a general rule that in major wars the population would be drastically cut-70 percent dying from infectious diseases-totalling some 40 percent of the total local population before the war.
Since the unified opium tax constituted the main part of public revenues during the late Qing and was closely connected with such reform enterprises as troop training, school building, and police affairs, the central and local authorities took its levy and use very seriously. Centering on the administrative power over this opium tax and its disbursement, grave friction arose between the provinces and the central government when a ban on opium was implemented from 1906 to 1911. While the provinces did their utmost to advocate their autonomous administrative power over the unified tax on local opium, the central government's Ministry of Finance was able to frustrate their efforts. As the opium-banning policy was carried out quickly, the opium tax then decreased even more. At that point the distribution of the unified opium tax became the focus of friction between the central and local authorities, among which Hunan and Yunnan provinces were especially conspicuous for the ferocity of their disputes. Thus two mutually related sources of local-central friction appeared in succession, making clear the lack of financial cooperation between the central and local authorities in the late Qing and pointing to antagonistic tendencies between them.
This paper examines the relatively understudied Sino-Tibetan borderland warfare, as well as a series of armed conflicts that occurred among various political groups in southwest China, in the 1930s. Previous works tend to interpret these border wars and armed conflicts as the result of conventional confrontation between China and the British or "British-supported" Tibet. Leaving aside this analytical framework, this paper views the Nationalist "Central Government" in Nanjing, the Tibetan Government in Lhasa, and the southwestern warlords, as three different and independent political groups, all of which sought to profit from various agendas, politically, militarily, and financially. By placing Nanjing, Lhasa and the southwestern warlord regimes in a wider historical context, this study also seeks to draw a clearer political landscape in southwest China in the 1930s by scrutinizing the implications of these border conflicts in terms of modern China's state-building and regime consolidation projects. An interesting and politically ironic fact is that, during the 1930s, as the Nationalist Central government in Nanjing exercised little if any authority in southwest China, the Tibetan Government, the southwestern warlord regimes, and even the Guomindang itself, did not actually reject war to satisfy their respective demands and further their political interests. As a result, what has traditionally been regarded as China's frontier and Tibetan agendas may present some new viewpoints that deserve careful reexamination.
The policy of magnanimity toward Japan after World War II, a strategic political gesture, largely reflected Chiang Kai-shek's hope of reconciliation with the Japanese in the post-war era. Its practical measures included maintaining the emperor-system, not dismembering Japan, and quickly repatriating prisoners of war; however, Chiang did not initially consider canceling war reparations. In other words, since the Cairo conference Chiang had demanded that Japan should pay China reparations in industrial equipment and military goods. During the post-war era, the Nationalist government, through the Far Eastern Commission, began the removal of some Japanese factories for reparations. However, the situation then changed with the Communist takeover of mainland China, and the Nationalist government agreed to give up its reparation claims, which was acknowledged in the peace treaty signed in 1952. It was also the 1949 Communist revolution in China that changed the policy of the United States toward Japan and destroyed the chances of the Nationalist government to seek reparations. Originally, the U. S. had supported reparations, but later it disallowed any of the powers from seeking reparations. The only exception was for other Asian countries to demand symbolic labor service. This definitely destroyed the possibility for the Nationalist government to demand war reparations, and since the mainland was lost to the Communists, it could not even demand symbolic labor service. Chiang Kai-shek also forgave a defeated Japan all its war crimes because of his belief that the Japanese people had not been China's enemies. He believed that China and Japan were fundamentally as close as brothers, and as soon as Japanese militarism perished, Sino-Japanese relations could return to friendship. As well, if a post-war China led Asia in the future, Japan would surely follow, letting bygones be bygones. Chiang thus not only wanted China to decline to take revenge after the war, but also to help Japan rebuild.
In Chiang's view, post-war Sino-Japanese relations could not only move from hostility to friendship, but also the Japanese would follow the lead of China. Prior to the war, both nations shared anti-communist policies, and in the post-war period anti-communism should become an even more powerful glue. In the latter years of the war, before the U. S. had recognized the international communist threat and still advocated strict punishment of Japan, Chiang was determined to follow a policy of magnanimity toward Japan and support the maintenance of the emperor-system and Japan's territorial integrity. In addition to support for the emperor-system and Japan's territorial integrity as part of a long-term plan to deal with the Soviet Union, Chiang also had a more immediate need to cooperate with Japan.
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