Memorial to expeditionary soldiers opens
Updated: 2013-08-16 01:52
By HU YONGQI and GUO ANFEI in Tengchong, Yunnan (China Daily)
The Western Yunnan War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression Memorial was opened to the public in Tengchong county in Yunnan province on Thursday, the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II.
More than 300 people from the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, including eight veterans of World War II, attended the opening ceremony.
Veterans of the Chinese Expeditionary Force take part in an inauguration ceremony of the Western Yunnan War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression Memorial on Thursday, which marked the 68th anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II. [LIU ZHENGFAN / FOR CHINA DAILY]
The force's 300,000 Chinese soldiers fought against the Japanese invasion of Myanmar — at the time the British colony of Burma — and the western part of the border province from 1942 to 1945.
Eight years ago, Duan Shengkui, now one of supervisors at the memorial, established an exhibition house — the Yunnan and Myanmar Museum of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression — to display his private collection of the expeditionary soldiers' artifacts and equipment from the war. Even though Duan charged 80 yuan ($13.08) per person for a tour of the museum, it still put him several million yuan in debt.
In November 2010, Li Changchun, at the time a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, visited Tengchong and approved the plan to build a larger memorial near Duan's museum.
In September 2011, construction of the new memorial began with a total investment of 150 million yuan from the central and provincial governments. The governments repaid Duan's debt and moved all the artifacts to the new memorial. Duan now manages the new memorial, which is free to anyone interested in that period of time, he said.
Zheng Jianbang, deputy president of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang and a World War II veteran, said the expeditionary soldiers overcame many obstacles, inferior weapons in particular, to regain lost land.
Lu Caiwen, an 88-year-old veteran, said 100,000 Chinese soldiers and 1,000 from Allied countries lost their lives to recapture western Yunnan, which was under Japanese occupation for three years.
"We have to cherish the peace that was built on the lives of soldiers," he said.
Also at the ceremony was Kuomintang Vice-Chairman John Chiang from Taiwan.
"I have seen many changes on the mainland, which has become Taiwan's No 1 trading partner. In the past, it wouldn't be possible to invite Kuomintang members to attend the ceremony, but now it is."
"The memorial also reminds all Chinese people of the history and the cost we paid for peace and therefore we can't let it happen again," he said.
Lin Siying, director of the publicity department of Baoshan city that administers Tengchong, said that the memorial is one the 12 key cultural facilities in Yunnan and will serve as a base for patriotic education for the younger generations.
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Li Yingqing contributed to the story.