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Victory at Tai’erzhuang in the Battle of Xuzhou

Submit Time:22-10-2015 | Source: | Zoom In | Zoom Out

The battle of Tai’erzhuang is the best known part of the Battle of Xuzhou. Located on the northern bank of the Grand Canal 30 kilometers northeast of Xuzhou, Tai’erzhuang was positioned on the canal and was the gateway to Xuzhou. With Tai’erzhuang standing in the way, it would be difficult for the Japanese Army to take Xuzhou. Zhou Enlai sent Zhang Aiping as a representative of the Eighth Route Army to meet with Li Tsung-jen and suggest that a major battle be launched at Tai’erzhuang to deal a heavy blow to the Japanese Army. Li Tsung-jen agreed to the idea.
On March 20, 1938, the Japanese Seya Detachment attempted a sudden advance on Tai’erzhuang in order to take Xuzhou in one swift attack, disregarding the fact that the Japanese 5th Division and Nagase Detachment on its flanks were hindered from moving forward with it. With the aim of protecting Xuzhou, Li Tsung-jen ordered three divisions of the 2nd Group Army to defend Tai’erzhuang. On March 24, with air support, the Seya Detachment embarked on three days of intensive attacks against Tai’erzhuang. By March 27, over half of the defending troops had been killed or injured. Chi Fengcheng, commander of the 31st Division stationed in the town, led his troops into the streets to fight the enemy in close combat. The 2nd Group Army engaged in repeated encounters with the Japanese, with the line of conflict seesawing back and forth and large casualties sustained by the Japanese. With the Japanese Army unable to make its way forward, the battle developed into a stalemate.
In light of these developments, on April 2, Li Tsung-jen made the order to surround Tai’erzhuang and eliminate the invading Japanese force. The 20th Army Group was to come from the right flank, attacking the Japanese troops to the left of the town, the 2nd Group Army was to come from the left flank to eliminate the enemy troops in Tai’erzhuang, and the 3rd Group Army was to position itself at Zaozhuang and north of Lincheng to cut off the enemy’s route of retreat. On April 3, the Chinese troops launched the counter-offensive from all sides. After four days of fierce fighting, most of the Seya Detachment and a part of the Sakamoto Detachment of the Japanese Army had been eliminated, with the remaining troops retreating to Yi County and Zaozhuang on April 7.
The Battle of Tai’erzhuang was a major victory for the Chinese army. In this fierce battle, which lasted over two weeks, there were 46,000 Chinese troops involved, and 7,500 Chinese soldiers killed, wounded, or missing in action. Over 10,000 Japanese troops were killed and a large number of weapons and equipment were captured.
As news of the victory spread, the country was overcome with a great sense of relief, and messages of congratulations poured in from people of all different backgrounds from across the country, from overseas Chinese, and from international friends. The victory at Tai’erzhuang not only greatly boosted the confidence of the Chinese people that they could win the War of Resistance and had a major impact in China and overseas, it also shocked and worried the Japanese aggressors. The battle fully demonstrated the commitment of the Chinese people to protect their homeland, with both soldiers and civilians fighting to the death nationwide.

The Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression: A Concise History was produced by the Communist Party of China Central Committee Project Office for the Study and Development of Marxist Theory to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory in the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and in the Global War against Fascism. The English version of this book was translated and published by the Central Compilation and Translation Bureau in August 2015.

Focusing on the main areas of interest of the international community regarding the Chinese war of resistance, and in order to make information about the war more readily available, we have selected 30 topics on the basis of the book and presented them in question and answer form, providing concise explanations and sharing historical details rarely known by international audiences. The answers to these questions offer a vivid account of the Chinese people’s fourteen years of resistance against Japanese aggression between 1931 and 1945. This was a time during which the Chinese people made enormous sacrifices to secure victory in the war against Japanese aggression and help achieve victory in the global war against fascism. The Communist Party of China was the mainstay of the Chinese united resistance, and the Chinese Theater was the main Eastern battlefield in the global anti-fascist war. During this time, people from around the world also gave selfless support and assistance to the Chinese people’s war of resistance.