This article investigates relationships between refugee flight and environmental change during the Sino-Japanese War of 1937–45 through a study of land reclamation projects in Shaanxi's Huanglongshan region. During the conflict with Japan, China's Nationalist government resettled thousands of refugees who fled war-induced natural disasters in Henan to Huanglongshan to reclaim uncultivated wastelands. Land reclamation reflected an ongoing militarization of China's environment, as political leaders looked to land reclamation to provide relief for refugees, further economic mobilization by exploiting untapped natural resources, and foster an ethos of dedication and self-sacrifice for the nation. Unrestrained land clearance decimated forests that had returned to Huanglongshan's hillsides since its abandonment during the rebellions of the late Qing. By compelling displaced people to cultivate marginal lands, war also threatened the health of refugees by exposing them to endemic disease. Yet the militarizing logic that motivated these reclamation initiatives continued to reshape China's natural landscape long after the Sino-Japanese War ended.

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