70 Years Later

The Call of History

Le Yucheng

[Following is a slightly shortened version of a speech delivered by Le Yucheng, Chinese Ambassador to India, at the seminar on India-China Cooperaion during WW-II, August 18, 2015, organised jointly by Chinese Embassy and JNU. Mr Le Yucheng specially extended his thanks to friends from Kotnis Memorial Committee, India-China Friendship Association and Overseas Chinese Association in Kolkata.]

Seventy years ago, a horrible catastrophe engulfed the globe. In a vicious attempt to divide and rule the world, the Fascists launched a brutal war of aggression, which was later known to be the Second World War.

The smoke and flames of the War dragged some 80 countries into the vortex of conflict. To defeat the Fascists became the most urgent task to salvage the human race, and all peace-loving countries and people from around the world rose to defense.

The war in China, which broke out the earliest and lasted longest, was an important part of the World Anti-Fascist War. And China made great sacrifice and huge contribution to the victory of the War. Chinese people of all parties, ethnic groups, beliefs and background joined hands in the life-and-death struggle for the survival of the nation.

But we did not fight alone. Selfless support from around the world poured in. Among all the countries and peoples, the Chinese people will not forget the strong political support that India rendered China since the beginning of Japan's aggression in the 1930s. We will not forget how Mahatma Gandhi gave his moral support as he said "my heart goes to the people of China in deep sympathy and in admiration for their heroic struggle and endless sacrifice in the cause of their country's freedom and integrity against tremendous odds" and how Rabindranath Tagore supported the Chinese people's liberation cause with the power of his pen. It is worth recalling that when the war broke out in Europe in September 1939, Jawaharlal Nehru was in China, where he not only met the Chinese leadership but also experienced Japanese bombing raids.

The Chinese people will not forget that as military allies, Chinese and Indian armies fought shoulder to shoulder against the Fascists, notably in the theater in Myanmar and the Indian army was instrumental in inflicting the most serious land defeat suffered by Japan in the war.

We will not forget that India provided an important base for support materials to be sent into China at a time when many transport lines were cut off. Hundreds of thousands of Indian laborers were mobilized to construct these aerodromes and roads connecting India and China. Thanks to this route, much-needed medical equipment and other logistic materials were able to reach China and contributed to the final victory.

Nor will the Chinese people forget the Indian medical team who came to China in the most difficult days of the struggle to care for the wounded and save lives, among them Dr Kotnis. As I watched the film "the eternal tale of Dr Kotnis" the other day, I was deeply moved by the sense of justice and compassion of the young man who came from an affluent family yet chose to give up the comfort of life for a just cause in a brotherly country. He took root in China and made the ultimate sacrifice. In return, he is respected by a grateful nation and loved by a grateful people.

History moves forward in an upward if tortuous journey, and progress is the course for human society. In that War, as in previous struggles, justice ultimately prevailed and peace won the day. The collective victory, though at great cost, marked a major turning point in the history of the world. Together, we not only defeated the Fascists, but also dealt a heavy blow to hegemony and broke the foundation of colonialism. Together, we brought about an awakening in the colonial and semi-colonial countries and ushered in a new wave of independence movement around the globe.

The great people of India, spurred on by the new wave and after strenuous struggle, finally broke the shackle of colonialism and joined the world family of independent nations in 1947. I've been reading the history of independence in India recently and visited Gandhi Museum.

The world will not forget how India and China sympathized with and supported each other's liberation and independence efforts in a kinship spirit. India's independence movement was widely reported in China and aroused strong support. China openly appealed to the British ally to grant the Indian people their real political rights.

The world will not forget that India was among the first group of countries to recognize new China and to call for the restoration of China's lawful seat in the United Nations.

Nor will the world forget Panchsheel, or Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, a brain child of China, India, and other countries and our joint contribution to the world.

Now 70 years after the end of the War, the world has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs and is still far from being peaceful and tranquil. Traditional and non-traditional security threats are intertwined, and solutions to many global challenges still elude us.

History can shed light on reality, and lessons learnt from yesterday are useful guidance for today. That's why on September 3 this year China will join many other countries in commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the World Anti-Fascist War. We hope to draw lessons, pool wisdom and gain strength from the past, cherish peace, and work with India and all countries to usher in a better tomorrow.

We must stay ahead of the curve of times and work for a new world order that is more equitable and just.
We must build a community of common destiny with shared interests, as all countries are passengers on the same boat in this globalized era, and no one is immune to the challenges of the day.

We must commit ourselves to common development, win-win cooperation and mutual respect, reject zero-sum mentality and oppose hegemony.

We must all keep to the path of peaceful development, encourage inclusive exchanges and achieve harmony among different nations, civilizations and faiths.

History has witnessed the friendly exchanges between China and India, two ancient civilizations living next door to each other, over the millennium.

Mr Deng Xiaoping once said, a true Asian century only comes when China and India are both developed. Mahatma Gandhi once observed that as a friend of China, I long for the day when a free India and a free China will cooperate together in friendship and brotherhood for their own good and for the good of Asia and the world.
[Courtesy : News From China, September, 2015]

Vol. 48, No. 22, Dec 6 - 12, 2015