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Huitong Bridge: Witness of an unyielding nation

Updated:2017-09-06 18:40:27   english.yunnan.cn

Editor’s note: On this planet, there are many kinds of bridges. Each of them has its own uniqueness and stories. What is the most beautiful and unforgettable bridge you have ever seen. Today, we tell you the story of Huitong Bridge in west Yunnan.

On July 11, 2015, the sun was scorching the west bank of the Nujiang River. By the Huitong Bridge, there were occasionally some people stopping to take pictures before moving on. Here stood the remains of the Huitong Bridge: a frame without any planks for the bridge floor, two bridgeheads, thick steel ropes and a stone tablet reading "Yunnan Provincial Cultural Relics Protection Unit". However, during World War II, the Huitong Bridge witnessed the Chinese People's anti-Japanese history.

The Huitong Bridge was originally a chain bridge built at the end of the Qing Dynasty(1368-1644), which was abandoned in 1900. In 1932, Liang Jinshan, president of Myanmar Overseas Chinese Association, contributed 200,000 silver dollars and hired Indian engineers and overseas Chinese technicians to rebuild it. In 1935, the Huitong Bridge was open to traffic.

In 1937, the militarist Japan waged a war of aggression against China. At that time, the Japanese troops cut off the majority of land and sea channels between China and the international community, including the Yunnan-Vietnam Railway that was blocked with the fall of Vietnam. In order to restore the lifeline for the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, 200,000 compatriots from different ethnic groups in western Yunnan began to construct the Yunnan-Myanmar Road. In 1938, when the Yunnan-Myanmar Road was being constructed, the Huitong Bridge was transformed into a highway bridge that was strong enough for a 10-ton truck to pass through.

In attempts to destroy the Huitong Bridge, the Japanese forces launched six air strikes from October 28, 1940 to February 27, 1941, and more than 4,000 bombs were dropped in 168 sorties. The Huitong Bridge was damaged to different extent after each bombing, but it kept spanning the Nujiang River.

On May 3, 1942, the Japanese troops invaded China from Wanding. They advanced over 200 kilometres in two days and took the Longling City on May 4. On the morning of May 5, 500 Japanese troops were disguised as refugees and tried to seize the Huitong Bridge by surprise. In the afternoon, a quarrel was started on the bridge, and a soldier fired a warning shot. The Japanese troops thought they had been exposed and immediately launched an attack. At the critical moment, the defending soldiers detonated the explosives that had been laid there in advance.

With the destruction of the Huitong Bridge, the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression also changed its course. The rapidly advancing Japanese army was kept at bay on the west bank of the Nujiang River. In the two years that followed, the Japanese forces never crossed the Nujiang River through the Huitong Bridge. In May 1944, the Chinese Expeditionary Army forced across the Nujiang River and began the famous Western Yunnan Counterattack. In August 1944, the Huitong Bridge was reopened to traffic, and a large number of military supplies were transported to the Western Yunnan Counterattack battlefields. The restoration of the Huitong Bridge sounded the death knell for the Japanese invaders.

In June 1974, the Hongqi Bridge, the largest reinforced concrete arch bridge in western Yunnan, was erected 400 metres in the downstream of the Huitong Bridge, which finally completed its historic mission. Three years later, Liang Jinshan died at the age of 94.

Today, the Huitong Bridge has become a cultural relic, but it is still majestically and solemnly witnessing the rapid changes on both sides of the Nujiang River. (Cui Renlin) 

Editor: Eric Wang

Keywords:   Huitong Bridge