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The 1938 Yellow Rivermarker flood was a flood created by the Nationalist Government in central Chinamarker during the early stage of the Second Sino-Japanese War in an attempt to halt the rapid advance of the Japanese forces.

Origin

Following the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army marched rapidly into the heart of Chinese territory. By June 1938, the Japanese had control of the entire North China. On June 6, they captured Kaifengmarker, the capital of Henanmarker, and threatened to take over Zhengzhoumarker. Zhengzhou was the junction of the arterial Pinghan and Longhai Railways, and it would directly endanger the major cities of Wuhanmarker and Xi'anmarker if the Japanese takeover succeeded.

To stop further Japanese advance into western and southern part China and to gain some time for the preparation of the decisive Battle of Wuhan, Chiang Kai-shek and his advisors decided to open up the dike of the Yellow Rivermarker near Zhengzhou to halt Japanese advance with flood water. The exact location to destroy the dike was originally planned to be Zhaokou, but due to difficulties it was finalized to be at Huayuankoumarker.

See also: Campaign of Northern and Eastern Honan 1938.Following the onset of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the Imperial Japanese Army marched rapidly into the heart of Chinese territory. By June 1938, the Japanese had control of the entire North China. On June 6, they captured Kaifeng, the capital of Henan, and threatened to take over Zhengzhou. Zhengzhou was the junction of the arterial Pinghan and Longhai Railways, and it would directly endanger the major cities of Wuhan and Xi'an if the Japanese takeover succeeded.

To stop further Japanese advance into western and southern part China and to gain some time for the preparation of the decisive Battle of Wuhan, Chiang Kai-shek and his advisors decided to open up the dike of the Yellow River near Zhengzhou to halt Japanese advance with flood water. [1] The exact location to destroy the dike was originally planned to be Zhaokou, but due to difficulties it was finalized to be at Huayuankou.

The flood

Refugees created by the flood


The floodwaters began pouring out from Huayuankou in the early morning on June 9, 1938. As a result, the course of the Yellow River was diverted southwards for nine years afterward, inundating 54,000 kmĀ² (21,000 square miles) of land in Henanmarker, Anhuimarker, and Jiangsumarker provinces. All in all, the flood waters took an estimated 500,000 lives. Note that this number includes casualty from floods in Northern China in the same year. Accurate records had not been maintained and the area was constantly being repopulated. Keep in mind that this estimation of casualties has yet to be completely confirmed by China's historical and military experts. No one is sure of the complete details of this incident. For instance, the causes of death have yet to be resolved as simple drowning, malaria, famine, fatigue, cyclones, or other unnatural form of death. This claim of 500,000 Chinese and Japanese lives is very vague and the issue of the actions of the locals near the Yellow River in relation to the flooding cycles of the 1930s is uncertain.

Controversy

To achieve full surprise on the invading Japanese force, the Chinese Nationalist government decided not to inform the mass public before destroying the dyke. The flood submerged millions of homes, and since they were not informed beforehand, the majority of people did not have time to flee.

It is still debated whether it was necessary to destroy the dike in Huayuankou to cause the flood. Militarily, it is claimed that the strategy could be considered partly successful, as by 1940, the Japanese were essentially in a stalemate with the Chinese forces, because the flood had created "problems for the mobility of the Japanese Army". Politically, not much is known of Japan's government's stance towards the Chinese Nationalist government's decision regarding both the attack and lack of evacuation of the mass public in China.

Aftermath

The dikes were rebuilt in 1946 and 1947 and Yellow River returned to its pre-1938 course.

Notes


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