During the ceremony celebrating the 60th anniversary of People's Liberation Army Navy, friends from many countries visited Qingdao. As a special guest of the Chinese army, the grandsons of Joseph Warren Stilwell, US Army four-star General in World War II, as well as their families, were invited to China, and watched the anniversary celebrations. On April 22, General Liang Guanglie, state councilor and defense minister, met them and stressed that "the Chinese people will be forever grateful to their good old friend General Stilwell, who contributed to the anti-Fascist war of China."
In recalling history, we still clearly remember that China and the US fought together against the Fascist Axis powers in World War II. More than 60 years ago, as the Commander of the China-Burma-India Theater and the Chief of Staff of the China Theater, General Stilwell fully realized that China's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression was an indispensable and crucial part in the global war against the Fascist Axis. He commanded the Chinese Expeditionary Army and the US army to combat against the Japanese army on the harsh battlefields of Myanmar and India. He made a great contribution in support of the anti-Japanese battles of the Communist Party of China (CPC) -- constructing a supply line between Myanmar and China named "Stilwell Road", shipping lend-lease supplies to China, and coordinating relations between the Allies.
He also made visionary proposals to the US government in support of building cooperative relations with the CPC. His contribution to the triumph of China's anti-Japanese war and the global war against the fascist Axis forces, as well as to cooperation and friendship between the Chinese and the American people, is immortal.
The Chinese people have never forgotten General Stilwell and any foreign friend who helped China in the anti-Japanese war. In 1991, an "exhibition room for General Stilwell" was established in his former residence in Chongqing, which was later refurbished into the "Stilwell Museum" in 2003, the only museum in China named after a foreign serviceman.
The Stilwell Research Center, Stilwell International School, and a website "Stilwell Post" (www.sdwyz.com) have been established, and a series of commemorative events have been held, to keep fresh the Chinese people's memory of their American friend.
By the same token, the Chinese people have never forgotten the Flying Tigers, the American Volunteer Group led by Lieutenant General Claire Chennault, which fought side by side with the Chinese army and transported supplies to China. The heroic deeds of the Flying Tigers have moved and encouraged the young generation of China.
In 2006, the memorial of the Flying Tigers opened in Zhijiang, Hunan. In 2007, a "Flying Tigers Research Society" was founded in Yunnan. And, the efforts in search of the remains of the soldiers and the airplanes of the Flying Tigers continue. It is beyond doubt a fact of history that China and the US fought hand in hand against the Axis and this has become a valuable heritage for the people of the two nations.
After all the ebb and flow in more than 60 years of history, China and the US have entered a historic era of building positive, cooperative and comprehensive bilateral relations in the 21st century. It meets the common interests of the two countries and also satisfies the wishes of the old Chinese and American soldiers who fought hand in hand. The history of Sino-US relations has proven that cooperation brings win-win outcomes while conflict harms both. As two great nations on two sides of the Pacific, China and the US play indispensable roles in safeguarding the durable peace in the Asian and Pacific region.
The history that China and the US fought side by side against the Fascist Axis in World War II is a beautiful reminder of Sino-US bonds and a common treasure of the Chinese and the American people. With bilateral relations are on the threshold of a new beginning, there are also new opportunities for development of relations between the Chinese and the US armed forces. The common interests and responsibilities of the two powers in maintaining peace and order in the world are much more enduring than the differences and disagreements in political systems and ideologies.
If only China and the US hold on to the principles of mutual respect, equality and pursuit of win-win solutions, and treat and handle relations between the two nations as well as the two armies from a strategic and long-haul perspective, the future of the Sino-US relations will be even brighter.
The author, Wen Bing, is a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Military Science.
(China Daily May 8, 2009)