China incident – In December 1937, the Japanese bombed and sank the American gunboat, the Panay, but then made the necessary apologies, “saving” America from entering war. To vent their frustration, the Japanese resorted to humiliating white civilians in China through slappings and strippings. The Panay incident further supports America’s determination to stay neutral.
“Quarantine Speech” – In 1937, the Japanese militarist at the Marco Polo Bridge near Beijing began an all-out invasion of China. Roosevelt decided not to invoke the recently passed neutrality legislation by refusing to call it a war, which would result in the cutting off of US aid to China. In Chicago, President Roosevelt made his sensational “Quarantine Speech” in the autumn of 1937. Alarmed by the recent aggressions of Italy and Japan, he called for “positive endeavors” to “quarantine” the aggressors – presumably by economic embargoes. However, many isolationists protested, and Roosevelt retracted. In December 1937 Japanese aviators bombed and sank an American gunboat, the Panay in Chinese waters, with a loss of two killed and thirty wounded. Tokyo however made the necessary apologies and paid a proper indemnity, thus cooling the situation.
Meanwhile, Hitler grew louder and louder, openly flouting the Treaty of Versailles through conscription and militarization of the Rhineland, while murdering German Jews. The Germans began a massive program of arms production, and in 1938 he suddenly took over Austria. Then he began making demands for the German-inhabited Sudetenland of the neighboring Czechoslovakia. He acquired this after a conference in Munich, Germany, in September 1938, in which Britain and France betrayed Czechoslovakia to him. “Appeasement” of the dictators turned out to be useless- in March 1939, scarcely 6 months later, Hitler suddenly took over the rest of Czechoslovakia.