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Author: Jie Gao


China and Britain both found themselves in extremely precarious situations by the early summer of 1940, when Japan demanded that Britain close the Burma Road, a vital overland supply route for Chinese forces fighting against Japanese aggression. The British had just seen all of their continental European allies fall like dominoes to Hitler’s forces over the span of a few weeks, while China was fighting a losing defensive war against Japan with minimal outside support. China desperately needed to maintain its overland supply line to the British Empire, the Burma Road, but Britain feared that the very existence of this conduit of war materiel would provoke a Japanese attack on vulnerable British colonies in the Far East. American policy on Japanese aggression was ambiguous at this point and neither Britain nor China could realistically expect help from Washington in the short term. As a result, Britain signed a one-sided confidential memorandum to close the Burma Road to buy time and shore up its East Asian position to the extent that it was able. This deal, a lesser-studied counterpart to Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy in Europe, compromised the Chinese war effort against Japan, paved the way for the Japanese conquest of Southeast Asia, and ultimately failed to prevent Britain’s defeat in East Asia. Recognizing that this temporary concession would not moderate Japanese behavior, Britain reopened the Burma Road three months later. This paper examines the vital role of the Burma Road in the Chinese war effort in 1940 and why Japan demanded that London close it, then explores the factors that led to Britain’s unavoidable capitulation on the issue and subsequent reversal three months later, along with the consequences for the Allied war effort in the Far East.

In: China and Asia
In: Chinese Research Perspectives on Population and Labor, Volume 3
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In: East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Chapter 3 Pursuing Ideal Partnerships


There have been evolving models of international higher education cooperation with China, with earlier studies (; ) outlining entry approaches of non-Chinese education providers into China primarily through joint-venture partnerships. This study argues that such partnerships are not clearly defined, nor understood. Using an analysis of policy documents and two case studies: the Sino-Danish Center and the Sino-British College, this chapter considers the changes in Chinese policies with respect to Sino-foreign partnerships and explores differences between Chinese and foreign understandings of partnership in higher education in order to propose a new understanding of the Chinese policy ideal. By diagnosing the defining discourse of instrumentalism () that characterises both the shifting policies and daily practices of these partnerships, we highlight how policies interact with the practices and give rise to different modes of Sino-foreign higher education partnerships. The pursuit of ‘equal partnership’ is highlighted as part of this instrumentalist evolution. Our work has implications for those involved in and considering partnerships in China but also a cautionary guide to those contemplating a partnership ‘on the cheap’.

In: Universities as Political Institutions
In: Chinese Research Perspectives on Population and Labor, Volume 4