A history largely forgotten

Updated: 2014-11-07 13:01

By Cai Chunying(China Daily USA)

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Taiwan exhibit

Wang Miao, vice-president and chief editor of the Hong Kong China Tourism Press, a longtime friend of Zhang, helped to take the exhibition to Taiwan in March 2013.

Many of the Chinese generals in the CBI later retreated to Taiwan along with Chiang Kai-shek after he lost the battle with the Communist Party following WWII. Some of them are still alive.

"The enthusiasm toward the exhibit went well beyond our expectation," said Wang, who is a renowned photographer in China. "Through these powerful photos, people now know that we have so many heroic generals and soldiers and we had such glorious victory during WWII."

While in Taiwan, someone suggested that Wang take the exhibit to the US so American people could also see that the US and China were deeply connected during that period.

Formerly a scholar at the Institute of American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and now vice-chairman of UBS Investment Bank, Wang's husband, He Di, actively looked for a US partner to sponsor the exhibit.

Finally, the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States of the Wilson Center, a leading think tank in Washington, became the US sponsor, and the China Overseas Exchange Association, the outreach arm of the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the State Council of China, sponsors the exhibit as a Chinese partner.

The project soon gained support from other leading organizations active in promoting US-China relations, including the National Committee on United States-China Relations, the Committee of 100, the General Joseph W. Stilwell Scholarship and the Scowcroft Group. The Asia Culture and Media Group provided logistical support.

"When Americans tell stories of WWII, the war in Europe comes first and the war in the Pacific came second. So, the result is that they do not know very much about the war on the Asian mainland," said Robert Daly, director of the Kissing Institute, who hosted the exhibit's opening ceremony. Attending the event were descendants of CBI veterans, including Easterbrook, McMurrey's daughters, Shan Stodter, US military officers and China experts.

"The most important thing to know is that the United States and China have a joint history. We have worked for common interest. That is worth celebrating and remembering," Daly told China Daily.

Zhang said the exhibit will be taken to New York, San Francisco and Hawaii next year, the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.

While the exhibit was up in Washington, Jill Elkins, a Maryland resident, happened to be passing by with her two children, and they stopped to look at the photos. Elkins' father was with US Army Air Corps in the CBI.

"The old pictures are amazing. There are a couple of photos showing American soldiers doing some radio work. I believe my father did some of that, too. I will keep looking to see whether I can find him. I wish I knew more of his time there," she said.

Contact the writer at charlenecai@chinadailyusa.com.

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