Battle of South Shanxi
Part of the Second Sino-Japanese War

A map of the battle
Date (1941-05-07) (1941-05-27)May 7–27, 1941
(2 weeks and 6 days)
South Shanxi, China
Result Japanese victory
Republic of China (1912–1949) National Revolutionary Army, China Empire of Japan North China Front Army, Imperial Japanese Army, Japan
Commanders and leaders
Republic of China (1912–1949) Wei Lihuang[1] Empire of Japan Hayao Tada
180,000 troops in 8 armies 100,000 troops in 6 divisions, 3 brigades
Casualties and losses
more than 100,000 troops more than 20,000 troops

The Battle of South Shanxi , also known as the Battle of Jinnan (Chinese: 晉南战役) and Zhongtiao Mountains campaign (Chinese: 中條山會戰) by the Chinese and as the Chungyuan Operation by the Japanese, was one of the 22 major engagements between the National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).


A map displaying the location of Chinese and Japanese forces during the Battle of South Shanxi, as described in this section of the article.
The strategic context of the battle. Chinese cities & conventional armies are shown as red icons; Chinese guerrilla forces are shown as red blobs. Japanese-controlled cities & armies are in black-and-white. Note that north is to the right.

The disastrous losses of the first year of the war (1937-38) meant that the internationally-recognized Chinese government (controlled by the Kuomintang or KMT party) had been forced to abandon its capital and all the industrialized areas of the country. It fought on from a new base in the west, mainly the province of Sichuan and Guanzhong.

The Zhongtiao Mountains held symbolic importance as the largest area of territory north of the Yellow River still under full Chinese control.

They also had some strategic importance as defensive ground on the north bank of the Yellow River. Beyond the south bank lay the railway line connecting the KMT's western base with the Zhongyuan central plain, the 'breadbasket of China'.[2]

The area of the battle was very roughly in the shape of a triangle, with the Yellow River as the base to the south. On the northwest side were Japanese armies that had advanced down the railway line from the north as far as its Yellow River terminus at Fenglingdu. Likewise, the frontline to the northeast side was the territory captured by the Beiping–Hankou Railway Operation.

At the onset of the battle, KMT-CPC relations were at a low point following the still recent New Fourth Army incident in early 1941. As a result, the nearby 8th Route Army refused to assist the surrounded Nationalists. South Shanxi was later remembered in China as one of the worst defeats of the entire war.


The campaign is extensively discussed in the travel book Two Kinds of Time by the US journalist Graham Peck, based on eyewitness interviews with refugees. Peck reports that the NRA had built a line of fortifications overlooking the major roads through the mountains, which had withstood several earlier Japanese assaults. It was garrisoned by second-line warlord troops. He claims that the Chinese commanders had become complacement and were caught out when the Japanese adopted new, guerrilla-style tactics. They used peasant paths to infiltrate into the mountains and encircled the mountain range by moving along north bank of the Yellow River. Once they realized they were surrounded, the Chinese forces disintegrated before better-quality troops could be brought across the river.[3]

Order of battle



1st War AreaWei Lihuang

§ 43rd Corps was formerly with 2nd War Area.


North China Front Army – Major General Hayao Tada (Early May 1941)


  1. ^ Peck, Two Kinds of Time, p.287
  2. ^ "Big Japanese drive in Shansi". Hong Kong Daily Press. 13 May 1941. p. 4. Retrieved 31 December 2023.
  3. ^ Peck, Graham (1950). Two Kinds of Time (Paperback ed.). Seattle & London: University of Washington Press (published 2008). pp. 238–284. ISBN 9780295988528.
  4. ^ Hsu, Long-hsuen; Chang, Ming-kai (1971). History of The Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). Translated by Wen, Ha-hsiung (2nd ed.). Taipei: Chung Wu Publishing.

38°00′00″N 112°00′00″E / 38.0000°N 112.0000°E / 38.0000; 112.0000