“The greatest failing of humanity is to forget.” Last week we were urged to “remember the 5th of November” as a betrayal of country; this week’s Remembrance Day urges us to remember the sacrifice for country.
But we tend to forget what was happening in the Far East which made the ‘war to end all wars’ a World War rather than a European one – and which is the root of on-going tension with China.
In September 1914, Japan attacked the Chinese port of Qingdao, which had been a German colony since 1897 and is still famed today for its engineering and brewing businesses (such as Hai’er white goods and Tsingtao beer). Britain and its allies supported the Japanese take-over.
China contributed 140,000 labourers to the Allies’ First World War efforts and were promised that the port of Qingdao would be returned to Chinese sovereignty. In fact, the Treaty of Versailles affirmed Japanese control.
In 1932, Japan began 17 years of brutal imperial expansion across China. This is what lies beneath today’s tensions and – despite Pearl Harbour – the Allies still tend to support the Japanese side, as we did in 1914.