When Britannica Kept Silent on East Asian Atrocities

By Eamonn Fingleton

TOKYO, Japan -- For those who still doubt that the West suffers remarkable blindspots in East Asia (see my earlier contributions in this space), some research I did today brings startling news. I checked the 1970 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica and found it contained NO reference to the Huang He atrocity of 1938. Perhaps even more remarkably, its account of the Nanking massacre of 1937 amounted to just one sentence (in an entry on World War II). In a reference to the invading Japanese forces, it stated: "They took Nanking on Dec. 13, 1937, and slaughtered thousands of its inhabitants."

To be fair, it should be noted that later Britannica editions give both the Nanking and Huang He atrocities stand-alone entries. Britannica's recent estimates of the number of deaths in Nanking range from 100,000 to 300,000. As earlier noted, recent editions put the number of deaths from the Huang He flooding at between 500,000 and 900,000.

Eamonn Fingleton is the author of
In the Jaws of the Dragon: America's Fate in an Era of Chinese Dominance.