Seventy years ago, a horrible catastrophe engulfed the globe. In a vicious attempt to divide and rule the world, the fascists launched a brutal war of aggression, later known as World War II. The smoke and flames of the war dragged some 80 countries into the conflict. Defeating the fascists became the most urgent task, and all peace-loving countries and people rose up in defence.
The war in China was an important part of the World Anti-Fascist War. China made a huge contribution to the eventual victory. Chinese people of all parties, ethnic groups, beliefs and backgrounds joined in the life-and-death struggle. But we did not fight alone. Selfless support from around the world poured in. Among all countries and peoples, the Chinese will not forget the Indian medical team that came to China in the most difficult days to care for the wounded and save lives, among them Dwarkanath Kotnis. He made the ultimate sacrifice for China and is, in return, respected and loved by a grateful nation and people.
Nor will the Chinese forget how Mahatma Gandhi gave us his moral support when he said, “My heart goes to the people of China in deep sympathy and in admiration for their heroic struggle and endless sacrifices in the cause of their country’s freedom and integrity against tremendous odds,” or how Rabindranath Tagore supported China’s cause.
History moves in an upward if tortuous trajectory. In that war, as in previous struggles, justice ultimately prevailed. The collective victory, though at great cost, marked a major turning point. Together, we not only defeated the fascists but also dealt a heavy blow to hegemony and broke the foundations of colonialism. Together, we brought about an awakening in colonial and semi-colonial countries and ushered in a new wave of independence movements.
The great people of India, spurred by the new wave and after a strenuous struggle, finally broke the shackles of colonialism and became independent in 1947. I’ve been reading the history of the independence movement in India and visited the National Gandhi Museum. I was deeply inspired and touched by the Indian people’s national spirit and great sacrifice. There was then, as now, much empathy between our two peoples.
The world will not forget “Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai”. India’s independence movement was widely reported in China and roused strong support. The world will not forget that India was among the first countries to recognise the new China and to call for the restoration of China’s lawful seat at the UN. Nor will the world forget Panchsheel, or the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, the brainchild of China, India and others, our joint contribution to the world.
Now, 70 years after the end of the war, the world has seen more than its fair share of ups and downs and is still far from tranquil. Traditional and non-traditional security threats are intertwined, and solutions to many global challenges still elude us. But yesterday’s lessons can be useful today. That’s why, on September 3 this year, China will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. We hope to draw lessons, pool wisdom and gain strength from the past, cherish peace and work with India and others to usher in a better tomorrow.
We must stay ahead of the times and work towards a more equitable and just new world order. We must build a community of common destiny with shared interests, as no one is immune to the challenges of the day. We must commit ourselves to common development, win-win cooperation and mutual respect, reject the zero-sum mentality and oppose hegemony. We must all keep to the path of peaceful development and achieve harmony among different nations, civilisations and faiths.
History has witnessed the friendly exchange between China and India over millennia. It calls upon us to build on this friendship and create a new splendour in the duet of the “dragon” and the “elephant”. As major developing countries and emerging economies, we share a dream of national renewal and development. We can exchange ideas, align strategies and enhance connectivity to make our dreams come true. Together, we can leave a better and more secure world to future generations.
The writer is China’s ambassador to India