To Remember History Is to Open the Future;
To Forget History Is to Commit Treason
– Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China
On May 9th, Victory Day in the world war against fascism, at the invitation of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, I will visit Russia and take part in the celebrations in Moscow devoted to the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War. This sacred day I will celebrate together with the Russian people and the entire world.
Everyone remembers that the aggressive wars begun by the fascists and militarists inflicted unprecedented damage and suffering on the peoples of China, Russia, and the countries of Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world. The relentless struggle between justice and evil, light and darkness, freedom and slavery, was joined by the peoples of China, Russia, and more than 50 other countries, as well as by all the other peace-loving peoples of the world, who stood up as one and formed a broad international anti-fascist and anti-militarist front. All these nations fought in bloody battles against the enemy, and in so doing defeated the most evil and brutal aggressors, bringing peace to the world.
I remember, in March 2013, when I first visited Russia on a state visit, I laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier near the Kremlin walls. There was a depiction of a soldier’s helmet and a red banner on the tomb, and there burned an eternal fire, symbolizing the unbroken life and unwavering fearlessness of our fallen heroes. « Your name is unknown, your deeds are immortal. » They will never be forgotten by the Russian people, the Chinese people, or anyone else.
China was the main theater of military operations in Asia during the Second World War. The Chinese people stood up before anyone else in the struggle against the Japanese militarists, waged the longest war, fought in the hardest conditions, and, like Russia, suffered the most enormous losses. The Chinese army and people fought stoically and persistently, locking down and destroying numerous contingents of the Japanese aggressors. At the cost of a huge national sacrifice — the lives of more than 35 million people — a great victory was finally won and an enormous contribution was made to victory in the world struggle against fascism. The exploits of the Chinese people in the war against the militarists, just like the exploits of the Russian people, will be immortalized forever in history and will never die.
The Chinese and Russian peoples supported each other, helped each other; they were comrades in arms in the war against fascism and militarism, and built a friendship with each other forged with blood and life. In the most difficult times of the Great Patriotic War, many of the best sons and daughters of the Chinese people decisively joined in the battle against German fascism. Mao Anying — the eldest son of Chairman Mao Zedong — fought in many battles as a political officer of a tank company of the 1st Belorussian Front, up to the storming of Berlin. The Chinese fighter pilot Tang Duo, as deputy commander of a fighter company of the Soviet Army, distinguished himself in air battles against the fascist forces. Children of the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party and descendants of the fallen heroes of the Chinese Revolution, when studying at the Ivanovo international boarding school, despite that they were still only children, nonetheless went off to dig trenches, prepared Molotov cocktails, prepared food and clothes for the fighters, chopped trees, dug out potatoes, and looked after the wounded in hospitals. Apart from that, many of them regularly donated blood — 30 millilitres once per month for the soldiers at the front. The Chinese female journalist Hu Jibang, small and weak, underwent the entire war from the first day to the last, through bullets and fire, writing about the resilience and courage of the Soviet people, the barbarous cruelty of the fascist hordes, and the joy of the Russian soldiers and people in their times of triumph. It emboldened the armies and peoples of both countries, raising their will to fight to the end, to the final victory. Alongside the above heroes there are many other representatives of the Chinese people who contributed to the Great Patriotic War while remaining unknown soldiers.
The Russian people gave the Chinese people valuable political and moral support in their war against Japanese invaders. This included large convoys of arms and war materiel. More than 2,000 Soviet fighter pilots joined the Chinese air force and helped in the air battles over China. More than 200 of them died in battles over Chinese soil. In the closing phase of the war, Red Army soldiers of the Soviet Union were sent to north-east China. Together with the Chinese army and people they fought against the Japanese militarists, which helped China tremendously in achieving final victory. The Chinese people will always remember the Russians, both soldiers and civilians, who gave their lives for the independence and liberation of the Chinese nation.
The famous Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky said, that, having forgotten history, our soul can get lost in the darkness. To forget history is to commit treason. The Chinese and Russian peoples stand ready, together with all peace-loving countries and peoples, and with the utmost determination and decisiveness, to oppose any actions or attempts to deny, distort, and rewrite the history of the Second World War.
This year, China and Russia will hold a series of events to mark the 70th anniversary of Victory in the Second World War. There will also be many other events conducted by the UN and other international and regional organizations. The purpose of these events and celebrations is to demonstrate our determination to defend the results of the Second World War, to protect international equality and justice, and to remind our contemporaries that it is necessary to preserve and guard the peace that was won for humanity at too high a price.
The hard lessons of the Second World War tell people that humanity’s coexistence is not subject to the laws of the jungle; that world politics is diametrically contradictory to belligerent and hegemonic power politics; and that the path of human development is not founded on the principle of « winner takes all » or in games with zero-sum outcomes. Peace — yes, war — no; cooperation — yes, confrontation — no; mutual gains are honored, while zero-sum results are not: This is what constitutes the unchanging core and essence of peace, progress, and the development of human society.
Today, mankind has unprecedentedly good opportunities for the realization of our goal — peace, development, and the formation of a system of international relations that is ever more strongly based on the spirit of cooperation and mutual benefits. « Unity — is strength, while self-isolation — is weakness. » Cooperation and the win-win principle should be adopted as the basic orientation of all countries in international affairs. We have to unite our own interests with the common interests of all countries, find and expand on the common points of interest of different parties, develop and establish a new conception of multilateral win-win, to always be ready to extend a helping hand to each other at difficult times, to partake together in rights, interests, and responsibilities, and to collectively collaborate to solve growing global problems such as climate change, energy security, cybersecurity, national disasters, and so on. In short, we are in it together on our planet Earth — the homeland of all humanity.
The Chinese people and the Russian people — they are both great peoples. In the years of grief and misery, our indestructible camaraderie was cemented with blood. Today the peoples of China and Russia will hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder defend peace, promote development, and make their contributions to lasting world peace and human progress.
(Russia Insider, May 10, 2015. Slightly edited for grammar by TML. Photos: Xinhua)