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China Daily Website

Photo exhibit remembers, pays homage to General Stilwell

Updated: 2013-06-08 01:54
By Pu Zhendong ( China Daily)

A descendant of General Joseph Stilwell (1883-1946), an esteemed US solider and an old friend of the Chinese people, returned to Beijing this week to recollect the late general's military career and his love for China.

John Easterbrook, grandson, Stilwell's, said that as a member of the third generation of the Stilwell family, he would like to carry forward his grandfather's legacy and help build understanding between China and the United States.

The remarks were made at the opening ceremony of a photo exhibition in memory of Stilwell's 130th birthday.

"I believe General Stilwell would be pleased that these commemoration activities demonstrated his association with the Chinese people and culture," Easterbrook said. "He was generally fond of laobaixing (ordinary civilians) in Chinese culture."

Easterbrook also made donations to the recently launched Care for War Veterans project under the China Social Assistance Foundation, as the first contributor from abroad. The project aims to provide compensation to improve the living standards of war veterans.

The two-day exhibition, themed "General Stilwell's China", featured more than 60 photos taken by Stilwell and his staff. The photos portrayed Stilwell's experiences in China and the China-India-Myanmar war zone from 1920 to 1940. Experts said the photos have important historical value.

Zhang Dongpan, curator of the exhibition, said this small photo show is hosted to convey respect and gratitude to Stilwell, who, along with the US army, rendered tremendous support to Chinese people during World War II.

"Preparation for this exhibition is also a discovery process of General Stilwell as an ordinary person," Zhang said. "I gradually got to know what he did that was right and not right for China. But above all, his righteous position during the war and love of China simply cannot be forgotten."

Stilwell is known as an important historic figure in Sino-US relations. During World War II, as chief of staff of the Allied army and commander of the US army in the China-India-Myanmar theater of operations, he fought with Chinese soldiers against fascist Japanese aggressors.

He directed the construction of the Ledo Road, the primary wartime supply route to China, which ran from the railhead at Ledo, India, to the Mong-Yu road junction where it joined the Burma Road. It was renamed Stilwell Road in early 1945.

Ma Canrong, director of the China Society for People's Friendship Studies, commended Stilwell's contributions as "one glorious page in World War II".

"To defeat Japanese enemies, he overrode all objections and worked hard to train the Chinese army and improve their combat capacities," Ma said.

"He lived and worked in China for 14 years. He understood China and deeply sympathized with the Chinese people, who were in tough times then," he added.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher on American studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said given the friendly traditions set by predecessors like Stilwell, Sino-US ties should navigate toward the direction of a "new type of big country relations".

"Nowadays, there are more than 90 platforms of communication and cooperation between the two economies, including the strategic economic dialogues," Tao said. "Also the coming meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama at Sunnylands in California is certain to yield deeper trust."

Ma said that Chinese people cherish the memory of Stilwell even more at present in a drastically changing world.

"We need more Stilwell-type friends to improve the understanding, friendship and cooperation between Chinese and American people, and encourage a healthy and stable path toward these relations," he said.

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