Veter­an­sVeter­ans hon­ored­honored for­for hero­ismhero­ism inin war

Xi says the Chi­nese peo­ple will never for­get the ef­forts of for­eign sol­diers who fought for the coun­try

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO YI­NAN zhaoy­i­nan@chi­

China hon­ored 30 vet­er­ans onWed­nes­day for their con­tri­bu­tions to the coun­try’s vic­tory against Ja­panese ag­gres­sion.

The cer­e­mony at the Great Hall of the Peo­ple took place a day be­fore the vic­tory pa­rade in Tian’an­men Square mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the end ofWorldWar II.

Re­ceiv­ing a salute from an honor guard, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping ap­proached the vet­er­ans and awarded them com­mem­o­ra­tive medals. Many of them are aged about 100 and use wheel­chairs, but some of them stood and saluted.

Ten of the medals were awarded to for­eign vet­er­ans or rel­a­tives of for­eign sol­diers who died fight­ing for China dur­ingWorldWar II.

Af­ter award­ing the medals, Xi said that many he­roes emerged dur­ing the 14 years of re­sis­tance against Ja­panese ag­gres­sion, in­clud­ing fight­ers from over­seas coun­tries such as Canada and In­dia.

“A promis­ing na­tion can­not go with­out he­roes or pioneers. The Chi­nese peo­ple will never for­get the for­eign sol­diers who fought for China dur­ingWorld War II, and the 10 for­eign vet­er­ans present to­day are their rep­re­sen­ta­tives,” he said.

TongRong­fang, 90, fromBei­jing said it­wasthe hap­pi­est­day of his life af­ter he re­ceived his gold-gilt medal em­bossed with a de­sign fea­tur­ing the Yangtze River and an olive branch.

Tong’s fa­ther, Tong Linge, was a se­nior gen­eral in the Kuom­intang who fought dur­ing the Lu­gouqiao In­ci­dent, or the Marco Polo Bridge In­ci­dent.

This con­flict, which broke out in a Bei­jing sub­urb in July 1937, led to full-scale war be­tween China and Ja­pan. Tong was the first se­nior gen­er­al­whodied af­terChina mounted all-out re­sis­tance against the Ja­panese ag­gres­sion.

The younger Tong said: “My fa­ther’s con­tri­bu­tion has been of­fi­cially rec­og­nized. I’m glad the lead­ers have at­tached un­prece­dented sig­nif­i­cance to the is­sue.”

Makhmut Ga­reev, a vet­eran of the Sovi­etArmy, who­fought against the Ja­panese with Chi­nese sol­diers in­North­east­China, said China was the main Eastern bat­tle­field dur­ing the World Anti-Fas­cist War, and its peo­ple fought hard and hero­ically, play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in the vic­tory.

“Lo­cal Chi­nese showed us such great hos­pi­tal­ity, and I will never for­get the scene as we were leav­ing when they waited to see us off.”

Shi Baodong, 90, from Jiangsu province, who­fought for five years dur­ing the con­flict, de­scribed the cer­e­mony as “touch­ing and un­for­get­table”. He felt his con­tri­bu­tion had been rec­og­nized.

The medals cer­e­mony was the first event in the cel­e­bra­tions mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of the vic­tory of the Chi­ne­sePeo­ple’sWar of Re­sis­tance against Ja­panese Ag­gres­sion (1937-45) and the World Anti-Fas­cistWar.

Xi, along with more than 30 for­eign lead­ers, will at­tend the V-Day pa­rade in Tian’an­men Square on Thurs­day morn­ing.

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