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Scene 14 (right to left)

Many Chinese Australians were deeply concerned about the impact of the Japanese invasion of China that began in 1937. In this scene, people are reading advertisements for performances of a folk opera about the Japanese massacres in China. Many events were organised in Australia to raise funds to support the Chinese government against the Japanese invasion. The young Chinese women are contestants in the annual Dragon Festival Ball fundraiser in Sydney. A letter from Chinese general and leader Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek), urging support, is being copied for distribution.

Stitched panels of the Harvest of Endurance scroll featuring ‘Invasion’ and ‘The support effort’.

Japanese militarism directed against China

Chinese communities throughout the world were concerned about Japanese militarism directed against China. By the mid-1930s, Japan dominated Manchuria, the north-eastern region of China, and in 1932 had attacked the major trading city of Shanghai in retaliation against Chinese protests.

Following international condemnation, the Japanese withdrew from their assault on Shanghai. However in 1937 they launched a full-scale offensive southwards, capturing Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Nanjing (Nanking) — then the capital city of China.

The atrocities committed against the Chinese civilian population in this city were so appalling that the seven weeks of mayhem and massacre was referred to in the foreign press as ‘the rape of Nanjing’.

The support effort

Chinese nationalist general and leader, Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-Shek) headed governments of China from 1928 to 1949, and, from 1949, the exiled nationalist government in Taiwan. A trained military leader, Jiang served in the 1911 Chinese Revolution and in rebellions against the government of Yuan Shih-Kai.

From 1918 he served with Dr Sun Yat-Sen’s nationalist Kuomintang government. Following Sun Yat-Sen’s death in 1925 Jiang Jieshi led the Kuomintang against the communist forces during the Chinese Civil War.

Jiang later led China during the war against the Japanese from 1937 to 1945. After the end of the Second World War the communists were successful in driving Jiang’s nationalist government and supporters into exile in Taiwan.

In 1937, Jiang Jieshi sent a letter to the Chinese in Australia, appealing for their support against the Japanese invasion.

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