Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Marco Polo Bridge Incident and General Ji Xinwen

Tomorrow marks the seventy-fourth anniversary of Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known as Lugouqiao Incident. (盧溝橋事變) The 800-year old bridge, located outside of Wanping, a town to the southwest of Beijing, also a junction of Pinghan Railway which made it strategically important to KMT-led Republic of China government because it was the only linkage of Beijing to KMT-controlled area in the south.

General Ji Xinwen (吉星文1908-1958), then a colonel commanding the 219th Regiment under the 37th Division of the 29th Route Army, KMT-garrison of Wanping.

On the late evening of July 7, 1937, Japanese troops, which had been stationing near Beijing in the name of protecting their diplomatic legation under the Boxer Protocol of 1901, were holding military maneuvers near Wanping. Using one of their men failing to return as an excuse, the Japanese asked to enter Wanping to search for the missing soldier but their unreasonable demand was refused by Ji. Both sides opened fire, and thus the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) erupted.

In 1949, Ji withdrew with his troops to Taiwan after KMT lost the Chinese Civil War (1946-1949). In 1958, Ji, then one of the deputy commanders of Kinmen Defense Command, was killed in the first shells of the 44-day long bombardment launched by People's Liberation Army at Kinmen, a strategically vital island off the southeast coast of China mainland, beginning on August 23. His tragic death was termed sarcastically as "the People's Liberation Army killed the hero of Sino-Japanese War."

For years Chinese propaganda machine had boasted that Chinese Communist troops alone fought the Japanese invaders in the Second Sino-Japanese War until 2008, when Chinese leader Hu Jingtao openly recognized that KMT troops were the major forces resisting against Japanese invasion. And a special exhibition in honor of General Ji's contribution was held in Wanping that year.

Using "incident" instead of "war" and "coming in and out of China" for "invasion", Japan has never admitted her invasion of China because there was no official declaration of war, so written in their high school history textbooks. However, we Chinese on both sides of the strait may forgive Japanese but shall never forget this chapter of a very painful history.

No comments: