9th June 1938  the Yellow River Flood

Chinese soldiers wade through the flooded Yellow River

On this day in 1938, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Nationalist troops under the orders of Chiang Kai-Shek blew up the dikes holding back the Yellow River in an attempt to stop the invading Japanese. The mighty river was known also as “China’s Sorrow” or “The Ungovernable” for its long history of natural disasters. But no previous disaster compared to the devastation caused by this ‘scorched earth” military tactic. The explosions ferociously flooded the provinces of Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu, destroying some 21,000 square miles and shifting the mouth of the Yellow River hundreds of miles to the south. Nearly one million Chinese peasants drowned, starved or died of diseases. Over 12 million were made homeless. Thousands of villages were destroyed. And it was all for nothing, as the Japanese advance was not halted. This deliberate flooding of the Yellow River has been described as the “largest act of environmental warfare in history.”

Murderous warlord Chiang Kai-Shek issued no warning to the civilian population before blowing up the dike at Huayuankou on the south bank of the river. But Chinese civilians have never been protected by any authorities during any war. The sacrifice of one million civilians – even for a minor gain – would never have been a military consideration. The late scholar and political analyst Liang Qichaonever summed up China’s brutal policy: “Never mind if the people die for our victory.”

No other country in the twentieth century showed such merciless contempt for its own population as China. But is it not altogether shocking that this atrocity – the loss of nearly one million lives for no good reason – is barely known? That fucker Joseph Stalin never spoke truer words when he said: “One death is a tragedy; a million is a statistic.”

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