Francis Pike

Francis Pike is a historian and author of Hirohito’s War, The Pacific War 1941-1945 and Empires at War: A Short History of Modern Asia Since World War II.

Why Taiwan is pulling down statues of Chiang Kai-shek

While the West obsesses about whether or not China’s supreme leader, Xi Jinping, is going to invade Taiwan, the Taiwanese seemingly have other concerns. Today the hot issue is statues. To be precise, statues of Chiang Kai-shek, the post-war founder-dictator of independent modern Taiwan. In an inventory taken in 2000 it was estimated that there

Narendra Modi is unbeatable

Voting in India’s national elections started last Friday. It will take six weeks to complete, which is less of a surprise when one considers that in a population of 1.4 billion people there are 969 million voters, 2,600 political parties, 28 states and 780 languages. It is a logistical task of dazzling scale, not only

The West’s shameful silence on Imran Khan’s imprisonment

Donald Trump should spare a thought for Imran Khan. If the former US president feels overrun by lawsuits, he could comfort himself with the thought that they are a mere bagatelle in comparison with those against Pakistan’s former prime minister. Since being deposed in a parliamentary vote of no confidence in 2022, Khan and his

The long and bloody history of tunnel warfare

Tunnel fighting has always been a problem. As Israel battles in Gaza against some 5,000 Hamas fighters embedded in buildings, ruins and 300 miles of tunnel, it seems an appropriate moment to look at the history of tunnel warfare and its difficulties.     Jewish history is not unfamiliar with the fighting of defensive wars in

The first world war wasn’t the first world war

For reasons that not even Czechs can explain, in the past they developed a habit of throwing their rulers out of windows. It started in the early 15th century, but it was in Prague in 1618 that the word ‘defenestration’ entered the English language. The word derives from the Latin word for window, fenestra.  A year earlier

How an American racing driver and war in Mongolia helped to defeat Hitler

Of all the ‘practice’ wars that preceded the main events of the second world war, including the Spanish civil war and the winter war between Finland and the Soviet Union, the least well known is the four-month war on the Mongolia-Manchurian border between the Soviet Union and Japan that ended in September 1939.  This is not surprising, perhaps, because British attention was

The morality of the EU’s gas grab in Azerbaijan

My enemy’s enemy is my friend. This ancient proverb partly describes the EU’s fast developing relationship with Muslim Azerbaijan, a Turkic country whose forever enemy is neighbouring Christian Armenia which is militarily supported by Russia. And natural gas is the crux of this unnatural alignment. On 18 July the EU gleefully announced that by 2027

The forgotten end of the second world war

Two weeks ago, VJ day (Victory over Japan day) celebrated the end of the Pacific War. On 15 August 1945 Emperor Hirohito, with his high-pitched voice and arcane royal language, which was heard by his people for the first time, announced Japan’s surrender. Huddled around their radios the Japanese heard Hirohito say: ‘We have ordered

What explains Taiwan’s warmth towards Imperial Japan?

The online TaiwanPlus news agency reported recently that a new memorial had been unveiled in southern Taiwan to commemorate the thousands of Taiwanese youths who volunteered to help the Japanese war effort in the second world war. It is estimated that some 30,000 Taiwanese died while fighting for Emperor Hirohito’s Imperial army during the Pacific

Why do we forget Britain’s role in the Korean War?

Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice. Sadly, in the British media it will be forgotten that Great Britain and its Commonwealth forces, roughly some 104,000 troops in total, were America’s junior partner in the United Nations force that took on the defence of South Korea. The United Nations’ call to arms

Britain’s war in Malaya

On 17 June 1948, seventy-five years ago this weekend, the British Prime Minister, Clement Attlee declared war on the ethnic Chinese Malayan Communist party (MCP). Except he did not call it a war; he called it an ‘Emergency’. It seems that the British plantation and trading companies in Malaya, such as Sime Darby, Guthrie, Harrisons

The troubling arrest of Imran Khan

The saga of Imran Khan’s political career rumbles on. While on his way to the High Court in Islamabad yesterday to defend himself against trumped-up charges of political corruption, Khan was ambushed inside the judicial compound by enforcement paramilitaries known as the Pakistani Rangers. After Khan and his lawyers were allegedly beaten up, he was

China and the strange history of balloon warfare

China’s ‘spy’ balloon, (or is it an errant weather balloon?), is currently being tracked across America. Picked up above the Aleutian Islands, it was buzzed by US planes above Montana and is now headed eastwards as it is pushed by the prevailing Jet Stream. The Pentagon has decided not to shoot it down; it does

The remarkable conversion of the lead Pearl Harbor bomber

This week marks the 81st anniversary of the Japanese attack on the US fleet stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, which launched the start of the Pacific War and turned what had hitherto been a European war into a world conflict. The air attack by 353 Japanese warplanes on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor was

Who tried to assassinate Imran Khan? And why?

At the end of August I warned in The Spectator that, in Pakistan politics, ‘death by assassination is always a risk.’ And so yesterday’s attempted assassination of Imran Khan – while shocking – should have come as no surprise. Perhaps the bigger surprise was that he survived. As Imran himself stated immediately afterwards, ‘Allah has given me

China vs the US: who will win the chip war?

There is a joke in Taipei that if China invades Taiwan, the best place to shelter will be in microchip factories, because they are the only places the People’s Liberation Army can’t afford to destroy. The country that controls advanced chips controls the future of technology – and Taiwan’s chip fabrication foundries (‘fabs’) are the

Pakistan is on the brink

On Tuesday I speculated that Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, now the opposition leader, was so popular that he might have to be shot by his enemies to prevent him from coming back to power. This was not a throwaway statement. After Sri Lanka and Lebanon, whose political murder rate since the second world

Is Imran Khan Pakistan’s Donald Trump?

Imran Khan, the cricketing hero, legendary lothario and deposed prime minister of Pakistan, is in trouble again. His political opponents in the police and the judiciary, in a manner not dissimilar to the judicial attack on former US president Donald Trump, have moved against Khan in recent days by accusing him of terrorist activities. In theory,