There’s no regime like a puppet regime

Seventy years ago today, Wang Jingwei (above) was officially installed by Japan as head of a puppet state in China.

The Wang Jingwei Government was one of several Japanese puppet states during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), and its goal was to rival the legitimacy of Chiang Kai-shek’s government. Wang had broken away from Chiang’s government in March 1940 and defected to the Japanese invaders.

Claiming to be the rightful government of the Republic of China, the Wang Jingwei Regime flew the same flag and displayed the same emblem as Chiang Kai-shek’s National Government, with an extra pennant demanded by the Japanese.

The Wang Jingwei Government declared war on the Allies on Jan. 9, 1943. Wang died in November 1944 and his regime was done less than a year later, with the end of World War II.

Today, Wang’s name in China is now a term used to refer to a traitor, similar to the American English “Benedict Arnold” or European “Quisling,” according to Wikipedia.

A puppet state is an entity whose government – though largely of the same culture as the populace it governs – owes its existence to being installed, supported or controlled by a more powerful entity, often a foreign power.

While puppet state regimes were popular in the 20th Century, particularly during the First and Second World Wars, the idea of a puppet state dates back at least six centuries, to when England effectively controlled the de facto crown of France during its control of Paris in the latter stages of the Hundred Years’ War.

John of Lancaster, 1st Duke of Bedford served as the “regent” until his death in September 1435.

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