Descendants of overseas Chinese proud of heritage
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of China's long battle with Japan in the eastern theatre of the Second World War. While the Chinese on native soil were fighting to protect their homeland, many overseas Chinese also made special contributions. They mainly came from Southeast Asia. Some volunteered to drive trucks to transport supplies for the Chinese army while others made generous donations. Today many of their descendants are living in southwest China’s Yunnan province.
They are the descendants of the 3,200 overseas Chinese drivers and mechanics who volunteered to serve the Chinese army in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. They are known in Chinese as the Nan Qiao Ji Gong.
Today many of them live in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. They often put on shows to tell the stories of their parents, who left their families in Southeast Asia and come to China to join the war effort.
"My father was one of the Nan Qiao Ji Gong. They gave up their wealthy lives and came back to China to help fight in the war. They went through many hardships. We’re not professional actors, we’re acting earnestly. We can feel the determination and patriotism they felt at the time," Daughter of war volunteer Sun Ruying said.
This wall was carved with the names of the 3,200 overseas Chinese drivers and mechanics. Over half of them died in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression while they served on the Burma Road. Today, while some can look at pictures to recall memories, there are some who will never know how their fathers looked. 72-year-old Ye Xiaodong is one of them.
Ye has been in charge of maintaining the monument to the Nan Qiao Ji Gong in Wanding in west Yunnan province. He has been looking for traces of his father for over half a century. His father was a Nan Qiao Ji Gong and was buried alive by Japanese when Ye was only 3 years old.
"I've heard that I look like my father very much. I have faith that I’ll find him one day," Son of war volunteer Ye Xiaodong said.
Ye never knew what his father looked like, as his mother burned all the photos of him. Now Ye can only commemorate his father by paying tribute to the monument.
"I feel comfort here with this monument. I feel like I’m with my father and every other Nan Qiao Ji Gong in this place," Ye said.
Besides the Nan Qiao Ji Gong, many other overseas Chinese offered a hand in the fight against Japanese aggression. Historical statistics show that in 1939, their donations took up one-third of the total military spending of the Chinese army. By the end of the war, their donations totaled over 1.3 billion yuan.
Liang Jinshan was one of the most famous overseas Chinese merchants. He donated one plane, 80 trucks and over 450 kilograms of silver to the Chinese army.
"My grandfather supported China with all he had. He left no physical assets to us. But we feel so proud of him. His donation contributed a lot to the country’s prosperity, which is far more important than physical assets," Liang said.
Experts are saying that overseas Chinese made great contributions to the victory of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the global war against fascism, whether they served on the Burma Road as drivers and mechanics, or made generous donations to the Chinese army. Some of their descendants are calling for more acknowledgement of this group of people and pride in their contributions and spirit.