MISSION TO CHINA:
Memoirs of a Soviet Military Adviser to Chiang Kaishek
Vasilii I. Chuikov
Translated with an Introduction by David P. Barrett
In late 1940, General
Vasilii Chuikov was sent by the Soviet government to China to serve as chief
military adviser to General Chiang Kaishek, head of the Nationalist government.
China was still fighting alone against Japan after more than three years of war.
It was Chuikov’s task to oversee the provision of Soviet military aid to
Chiang’s armies, and to press the Chinese leadership toward a more aggressive
resistance to the Japanese. Chuikov arrived with experience, as he had studied
Chinese as an officer cadet and had been twice sent to China on missions in the
Chuikov’s evaluation of the Chinese Army was much
more positive than that of American and British observers of the time. While he
recognized problems in the highly politicized senior command, he commended the
fighting spirit of the junior officers and the enlisted men. Chuikov not only
saw Nationalist China as unconquerable; he also believed that the Nationalists
were capable of sustained offensive operations against the Japanese. From his field
inspections, he offers professional assessment of the strengths and weaknesses
of the Chinese army and he subjects a number of major engagements fought in
1941 to close analysis.
memoir ranges widely. He portrays in sharp outline the Nationalist military
elite, he memorably describes life in the wartime capital of Chungking, and he
writes vividly of his travels through rural China. On his return to the Soviet
Union in 1942, Chuikov was assigned command of the 62nd army, and made his name
as the victor of Stalingrad.
perceptive and keenly observed memoir, written by one of the great commanders
of the Second World War, is suffused with deep sympathy for the Chinese people
in their resistance struggle.
Vasili Chuikov served as chief military
adviser to Chiang Kaishek in 1941–42. Born into a peasant family, Chuikov
joined the Bolshevik cause in the Russian Civil War. Following Chinese-language study, he was twice posted to China as
a young officer. In late 1940 General Chuikov was appointed head of the Soviet
military mission in Nationalist China. Upon his return to the Soviet Union in
1942, he was assigned to the Stalingrad front, where he commanded the
successful defense of that city. After 1945 Chuikov held a succession of
high-ranking military offices and, in recognition of his illustrious wartime
service, was named a Marshal of the Soviet Union. In later life, he wrote a
number of memoirs, including the one published here. Marshal Chuikov died in 1982.
David P. Barrett is Associate Professor of History, McMaster
University, Hamilton, Ontario. He has written on the political history of
Republican China (1912–49), with particular emphasis to the Sino-Japanese War
(1937–45) and the wartime collaborationist regime under Wang Jingwei.
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