Marco Polo Bridge Incident

Second Sino-Japanese War

East Asia 1937.0707

Marco Polo Bridge Incident

Second Sino-Japanese War, Japan-China War, Rape of Nanking (7 July 1937)

Historical Map of East Asia & the Western Pacific

Many Chinese Nationalists saw Japan as the main threat and were unhappy with Chiang Kaishek's focus on destroying the Communists. In late 1936, they stepped in to force him to accept a United Front against Japan. Conflict erupted in Beiping (then the name for Beijing) in July the next year, when edgy Nationalist troops fired on Japanese performing military maneuvers at Marco Polo Bridge.


Treaty Ports

Treaty ports were towns opened to foreign trade by unequal treaties in China. Foreigners operating within treaty ports enjoyed extraterritoriality, being subject to their home country's laws. Unlike concessions such as Hong Kong, these territories were not directly leased by the foreign powers and did not have sizable foreign garrisons.

Treaty ports are not shown in the maps after the 1911 Chinese Revolution in order to give a clearer picture of the chaos in China itself and as by that point their numbers had stabilized. After the revolution, some of the smaller ports were phased out while the others became less important as the situation in China meant that only the concessions could provide foreigners with security. Most, however, still continued on into the 1940s when the Japanese entry into World War II and foreign agreements with China brought them to an end.

See this map for treaty ports in 1907, when the system was at its peak.

Yangtze River

By the terms of the Treaty of Tientsin (1858), foreign vessels including warships had the right to free navigation on the Yangtze River. In practical terms, this right extended only as far as Yichang until 1900, when advances in steam navigation allowed access as far inland as Chongqing.

Main Events

February 26 Incident

Young Imperial Japanese Army officers led a coup attempt in Tokyo, Japan, in a bid to purge the government and military leadership in favor of the radical 'Imperial Way'. Roughly 1500 men joined the rebellion, successfully assassinating several leading officials (including two former prime ministers) and occupying a number of important buildings including the police headquarters. However the Emperor rejected the rebellion and it was suppressed over the following days, bringing an end to the factionalism which had divided the Japanese army.


Germany and Japan sign Anti-Comintern Pact

Xian Incident

Zhang Xueliang arrested Chiang Kaishek to force him to accept a United Front with the Communists against Japan.

Colony of Burma

Under the Government of India Act 1935, Burma Province was separated from the British Indian Empire to become the new Colony of Burma. The colony was granted a new constitution calling for a fully elected assembly, with Ba Maw acting as Deputy Chairman of the Executive Council.

Marco Polo Bridge Incident

Clash between Nationalist Chinese troops and Japanese troops in Beiping

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