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Szechuan (Sichuan) is a province of central China. Most of the province is a plain, the Szechuan Basin, which is fertile but isolated from the rest of China by mountain ranges. These include the high Hengtuan (Hengduan) to the west and the Tapa (Daba) to the northeast. The province is drained by the Yangtze River, which also forms the chief communications corridor with the rest of China via the Yangtze Gorges. The major cities were Chengtu and Chungking, the latter serving as Chiang's capital following the Japanese penetration of the middle and lower Yangtze River valley.
Resources included coal fields in the area around Chungking.
With its surrounding ring of mountains, the province was the inland bastion of China during the Sino-Japanese War. Its role as the "final zone of resistance" in the event of war with Japan was established by Chiang's German military advisors in the mid-1930s (Peattie et al. 2011). As much as possible of China's industry was moved to the province in 1937, an effort that has been described as China's Dunkirk (Mitter 2013). The population was swelled by at least 9.2 million refugees during the war. Later, American air bases were constructed around Chengtu. However, the provincial governor, Chang Ch'ün, was sufficiently powerful and of sufficiently dubious loyalty to Chiang that the latter felt compelled to keep the more dependable 76 and 93 Armies in the province throughout 1943 and 1944.
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