From Borderland to Occupied Territory
Despite its geopolitical importance at the juncture between Soviet and Japanese claims, Xing An lay outside infrastructure networks connecting the region to larger populations centers and the interior provinces of China. Lacking even the roads, the successful development of the region required enormous capital and resource investments at a time when growing Japanese encroachment in the Northeast made large scale infrastructural projects nearly impossible to fund. A few tractors made for good photo opportunities, but did not essentially alter the balance between an unrelenting environment and the ill-coordinated efforts of a few military units and several thousand refugees.
For Japanese officers in the Kwantung Army, Zhang Zuolin’s assassination may not have led to the desired outcome, but the situation in Manchuria did not diffuse with Chinese appeasement. In 1931, another instigation, the Mukden Incident, would lead to the formation of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo. Yet, the Xing An Land Reclamation Bureau was not wrong about the importance of the region nor about the Japanese interest. Within a year of the publication of the first Xing An Tunken Report, the research section of the Japanese-run South Manchurian Railroad had translated the report, minus the political rhetoric of Chinese nationalism but including two maps, which needed no translation. In that sense, modernizing officers had succeeded in their mission - from a blank space, Xing An came onto the map.