Second Sino-Japanese War

Aisin Gioro Puyi and wife Wanrong, 1925.

[Photo story] Puyi: The last emperor of China

The tragic life of the last emperor of China has been the subject of much popular culture, not least the movie The Last Emperor. But why was he often thought of as a political puppet and how did he go from emperor to commoner? Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao provides a glimpse into the final period of China’s imperial rule.
In June 1937, German leader Hitler received China’s Finance Minister H.H. Kung at the Kehlsteinhaus in the mountains, representing the peak of China-Germany military cooperation. Kung was the special personal representative of Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek.

[Photo story] The secret pre-World War II diplomacy between China and Germany

Before World War II, an unlikely alliance and friendship sprang up between China and Germany. As diplomatic ties warmed, Germany provided China with arms and equipment against the Japanese invasion. However, because China and the Soviet Union were military allies, Hitler drew closer to Japan, resulting in the subsequent deterioration of China-Germany relations, and the division of camps in WWII.
12 May 1945, San Francisco — During the meeting of the UN Conference on International Organization (UNCIO), delegates of four countries who would serve and sit on the UN Security Council look over a document: (from left) British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Robert Anthony Eden, US Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr, Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs Vycheslav M. Molotov and Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Soong Tzu-wen.

[Photo story] The establishment of the United Nations and its significance to China

The establishment of the United Nations was a major step towards forging a new world order after the chaos of World War II. For China, it was a chance to recover from the humiliation of the two Opium Wars, the First Sino-Japanese War and World War II, where it was forced to cede territory and submit to Western powers. Not only was China able to sign equal treaties to take back its land, it became a permanent member of the UN Security Council, and took its place on the world stage.
Japanese people on a transport vessel take a last look at Manchuria, spring 1945. The Japanese government previously made many nice promises to encourage them to migrate to Manchuria, only for Japan to lose the war and dash the dream. Japan’s painful experience in Manchuria also became important material for Japanese literature and film after the war.

[Photo story] The fate of Japanese POWs and civilians in China after World War II

During the Japanese occupation of China in World War II, the Japanese government encouraged the people of Japan to migrate to China, where they were accorded many privileges as first-grade citizens. But when Japan eventually lost the war, these people found themselves cut adrift in an instant, neither belonging to China nor tied to Japan, especially the children born during the war. Many suffered and even lost their lives as the Soviet army put them into concentration camps and took retaliatory action. Some Japanese still remember the magnanimous policies of the Chiang Kai-Shek government, which arranged at the time for Japanese POWs and other Japanese to be repatriated back to Japan. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao presents photos of the period.
During the days of the Republic, Nanjing Road in Shanghai was one of the best-known commercial streets in the world. Stores and advertisements lined the streets; advertisement placards announcing sales and discounts were waved in the streets while tobacconists, pharmacies, watch shops and metal workshops vied for customers side by side.

[Photo story] The many faces of Shanghai over a hundred years

Over a century, the city of Shanghai saw it all. Westerners fell in love with Republican Shanghai, where commerce and culture flourished; Japanese invaders advanced and retreated; communism and capitalism vied for a stage. Despite these ups and downs, Shanghai has maintained a demeanour and style unto itself. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces Shanghai’s days of glamour and the front-row seat it had in war, revolution, and reform.  
A wheat field in Chishang Township, Taitung County. (Facebook/蔣勳)

Taiwanese art historian: My mother waited for her soldier husband to return from war, just like Wang Baochuan

In today’s era, we get instant gratification through a swipe of the phone or a flick of the switch. Could we have done what Tang dynasty wife Wang Baochuan did and waited 18 long years — without phone, wifi or video apps — for her husband Xue Pinggui to return home? Taiwanese art historian Chiang Hsun knows his army wife mother could. It was she who taught him about “Baochuan vegetables”: the stubborn weed of Taiwanese purslane that won’t be stamped out; the pure love that asks for neither company nor reward.
Japan's prime minister-in-waiting Shinzo Abe (right) smiles with newly appointed Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa (centre) and General Council Chairman Yuya Niwa of his ruling Liberal Democratic Party at a party executive meeting in Tokyo, 25 September 2006. (Toshiyuki Aizawa/File Photo/Reuters)

Shinzo Abe's first term: A princeling's attempt to rewrite World War II history

Looking back on politician Shinzo Abe’s career, academic Toh Lam Seng asserts that the greatest driving force of Abe, the “pampered princeling”, was his maternal grandfather, former Prime Minister Nobusuke Kishi. When Abe became prime minister for the first time in 2006, he was preoccupied with changing Japan’s peace constitution and establishing a new take on Japan’s war history that his grandfather was a large part of. Several hawkish policies followed but his single-minded pursuit and unpopular Cabinet soon led to his departure.
Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and US ambassador to China Patrick J. Hurley (back row) in an American army jeep.

[Photo story] The Dixie Mission during WWII: First contact between the US and the CCP

The Dixie Mission was a short-lived but important effort by the US to work with the CCP during World War II. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao traces this initiative, as well as the beginnings and rise of the CCP.
A cheerful Lee Teng-hui in this photo taken outside a dining hall at Iowa State University.

[Photo story] Lee Teng-hui: Controversial figure or icon of Asian democracy?

Taiwan's former President Lee Teng-hui, a controversial figure in the eyes of many, presided over Taiwan at a time when it was undergoing political and economic reforms. Whatever the controversy he courted for being pro-Japan or pro-independence, there is little doubt that he left his mark on Taiwan’s politics. Historical photo collector Hsu Chung-mao shows us Lee's various sides through this pictorial journey of his life.