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Objective chronological listing of significant events leading up to modern China.



  • January – Due to a dispute on the route to cross the Yangtze, Nationalist forces clash with the Communist New Fourth Army. 9,000 Communist soldiers are killed or captured. Publicity of the event fans popular sympathy for the Communists and anger at the Nationalists.
  • January - Attack by 90,000 Japanese troops in southern Henan province halted by the Chinese.
  • March - Under domestic and foreign pressure, the Nationalists resume talks with the Communists.
  • March - Japanese launch an attack in Jiangxi province with 40,000 men. After three weeks of fighting, the attack fails with 15,000 Japanese casualties.
  • April – The Soviet Union signs neutrality pact with Japan. The Soviet Union recognizes the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo and Japan recognizes the independence of Outer Mongolia. Supply routes from the Soviet Union into China are closed.
  • April – Franklin Roosevelt gives secret authorization for formation of the American Volunteer Group (the Flying Tigers) that would fly combat missions for China.
  • April - Japanese forces capture the port cities of Ningpo, Wenzhou and Fuzhou.
  • May - Nationalist guerrillas in southern Shanxi province are forced to retreat by Japanese troops. Communist guerrillas would occupy the same area afterwards.
  • May – The United States declares China eligible for Lend-Lease aid.
  • June – Germany invades the Soviet Union.
  • July - Japanese troops allowed into the southern part of Vietnam, occupying the entire country.
  • August - The United States imposes an oil embargo on Japan.
  • September – Second battle of Changsha. Intense battles in Hunan province. Japanese forces fail to take the city, suffering over 40,000 casualties. The Chinese also suffer heavy losses.
  • October - Soviet Union urges the Chinese Communists to intensify their attacks on the Japanese.
  • October - Tojo Hideki becomes prime minister in Japan.
  • November - U.S. civilians and military personnel are evacuated from China.
  • November - Japanese fleet leaves for Hawaii in secret.
  • December – Japan attacks Hawaii and southeast Asia. The United States enter the war.
  • December - Japanese forces enter Thailand.
  • December - Germany declares war on the United States.
  • December – Japanese capture Hong Kong, a British colony.