After the collapse of the old imperial order, many Chinese not only rejected the old political institutions, ideology and culture, but many traditional forms of behaviour and further aspects of traditional Chinese culture as well. Nearly everything that was old was suddenly seen as problematic, holding China back from the necessary modernization and reform efforts.
Japan had invaded and occupied Manchuria in the Northeast of China in 1931 and later founded the supposedly independent state of Manchukuo with the last emperor Puyi as its puppet ruler. The Japanese troops subsequently invaded China from two sides, southwards from their Northern puppet state of Manzhougou to Beijing and along the railway lines towards China's center as well as westwards from Shanghai. The 2nd Shanghai front started in autumn of 1937, when Japanese troops that were based there started to attack the western part of the city. Their original plan to quickly move west along the course of the Yangtze River in Blitzkrieg fashion was rendered impossible by the fierce resistance of the Chinese.