14/8/1917 New enemies for Germany as Siam and China join the Allies #1917Live

The war continues to spread its tentacles across the globe. The USA declared war on Germany in April as a result of Germany’s U-boat campaign. Countries further afield are also joining the Allies. The Kingdom of Siam recently declared war on the Central Powers and now the Republic of China follows suit.

These Asian countries have different motivations for joining the war than the USA. The U-boat war means little or nothing to these far away nations, though China has been irked by the sinking of ships carrying labourers to Europe. Rather the two countries are joining the war to assert their independence.

Siam has never been colonised by European powers but has lost territory and been forced to sign a treaty making foreigners exempt from Siamese law. The Siamese hope that entering the war will allow them to reverse this unequal treaty and oblige the Europeans to recognise their country as an equal member of the family of nations. China meanwhile has long been bullied by foreign powers and has had to concede foreign control of enclaves in Shanghai and German occupation of Tsingtao and surrounding areas. The Germans have since been evicted from Tsingtao, which is now under Japanese occupation; the Chinese hope that by joining the Allies they will at the very least be able to regain control of Tsingtao.

Siam intends to send an expeditionary force to Europe, though it will be some time before one is ready. China meanwhile is currently in a somewhat chaotic state and there are no plans to send soldiers to Europe. However the Chinese have already been contributing to the Allied war effort and will continue to do so. Large numbers of Chinese workers have been recruited for service in Europe, where they work in armaments factories but also close to the frontline as general labourers. In Britain the Chinese labourers are housed in camps to prevent their mixing with the native population. They enjoy more freedom in France but also find themselves deployed close to the front, where they sometimes have to face the attentions of German artillerymen.

image source:

Chinese labourers at Boulogne (Wikipedia)

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