China Politics and Military in the 1930’s

By | January 23, 2022

Administrative divisions. – In 1929 the national government decided to proceed with a new official administrative division of China into 28 provinces, with the annexation of some neighboring territories, which had already been under the Chinese influence for centuries. In this way they were added to the 18 traditional provinces: 1 ° Manchuria, with three provinces: Hei-lung Kiang, Kirin and Liao-ning. 2 ° Mongolia, with 4 provinces: Jehol, Chahar, Sui-yüan and Ning-sia. 3 ° Eastern Turkestan, constituting the province of Sin-Kiang. 4 ° The eastern portion of the Tibetan plateau, with 2 provinces: Chin-hai and Si-kang. In total, according to data published by the official authorities in 1930-31: 7,225,557 sq km. with 431.722.000 residents.

In 1932, however, the events that led to the creation of the new Manchurian empire detached first the three provinces of Manchuria from the territory and from the Chinese influence, then Jehol; with this the Chinese republic now comprises 24 provinces, although the national government refuses to accept the new state of affairs. Each province is divided into prefectures (hsien), comprising several municipalities (chu), each consisting of 20 to 50 villages (hsiang) or townships (chen) Each province is administered by a provincial government, chaired by a governor (chu – hsi), appointed by the central government. We give below the data relating to the 18 traditional provinces.

The state flag. – It is red, with a dark blue field at the upper corner of the shaft; in the field, a white sun with twelve rays.

Armed Forces. – Army. – According to the army reorganization plan, implemented by the national government in 1929, the formation of 65 infantry divisions, 8 cavalry brigades, 16 artillery regiments and 8 of the engineers is foreseen; in total, about 800,000 men, destined to constitute the force of the army in peacetime. Until January 1929, prior to the entry into force of the aforementioned plan, the Chinese army comprised 1,800,000 men, divided as follows: 114 divisions, 29 brigades and 13 infantry regiments; 8 divisions, 4 brigades and 2 cavalry regiments; 13 artillery regiments; 15 battalions of the engineers. A division was made up of an average of 14,000 men, officers and troops.

According to loverists, military service is voluntary, but a kind of conscription is imposed in some provinces. The duration is three years, after which one is assigned to the front line reserve with the obligation of one month of exercises every year; therefore, one enters the second reserve which entails the obligation of one month of exercises every two years. Once this last reserve is over, one is definitively free from military duties.

Navy. – New units: Light cruisers: Ning Hai and Ping Haim built one in Japan, the other in Shanghai in 1931-32, of 2500 t. and 22 knots, armed with 6/140, some anti-aircraft weapons, 2 twin 533 launch tubes, 2 aircraft.

Minesweepers: 2, ordered in Japan.

Gunboat: 4 new ones were built in 1929-30, with tonnage between 500 and 1600 tons, 18-20 knots of speed and different armament.

Patrol vessels: 12, of 300 tons. and 2-6 knots, built in 1931-1932.

River gunboats: 2, 210 t. and 12 knots, built in 1932.

Motorboats: 15, built in 1936-37 in Italy (2), England (10) and Germany (3).

The news on the Chinese navy is rather uncertain given the current events; on the basis of unconfirmed reports, some of the aforementioned units have been sunk.

Military aviation. – At the beginning of 1937 the central government aviation had 900 aircraft, that of the province of Kwang-si 60 aircraft (of the Germanic, Russian and Italian type) and was still being organized when the intervention of Japan and the subsequent territorial conquest completely disrupted both the existing aeronautical team and the ordering work. Regardless of the heavy losses suffered (420 aircraft up to the end of February 1938), the Chinese aviation can be considered an organism in need of complex rearrangement work both as material and as airport facilities. In the meantime, war needs are met with material of foreign origin (mainly Soviet).

China Politics and Military in the 1930's