Serve the People, Contribute to Mankind – the Journey of China’s Armed Forces over the Past 95 Years
Chinese Ambassador to Canada, H. E. Cong Peiwu Published an Article in Esprit De Corps
26 July 2022
August 1, 2022 marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army of China. Ninety-five years ago, Canada had already emerged from the shadow of the Great War. However, at that same juncture, the land of China was laid to waste and the Chinese people were plunged into unprecedented misery and suffering of a long bloody civil war. When leading the Chinese people in the great anti-imperialist and anti-feudal struggle, the Communist Party of China represented by Mao Zedong fully realized that without a People’s army, the people have nothing. At that critical milestone of the Chinese nation, the Communist Party of China resolutely fired the opening shot of armed resistance against reactionaries in Nanchang city on August 1, 1927. Since then, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) which was created and led by the Communist Party of China, bearing the hopes of a future nation, has made invaluable contributions to the cause of China’s revolution, construction, and reform through faith and perseverance.
In 1938, Norman Bethune, a Canadian doctor, made the arduous trek to war-torn China. He worked selflessly and made great contributions to humankind until the end of his life. Bethune established health schools for the Eighth Route Army which was then fighting on the frontline against the Japanese invaders. He trained a large number of medical workers, compiled a variety of field medical textbooks, and treated a multitude of wounded people. After Bethune’s death, Mao Zedong wrote, “Now we are all commemorating him, which shows how profoundly his spirit inspires everyone. We must all learn the spirit of absolute selflessness from him. With this spirit, everyone can be very useful to the people.”
Like Mao Zedong’s depiction of Bethune, the PLA have always relied upon the Chinese people and their mission is to do their utmost for the people. They remain close to the people, and their fundamental tenet of serving the people wholeheartedly has not changed and will never change. From fighting floods and plugging breaches, to earthquake search and rescue missions undertaken despite the risk of aftershocks, from “the Xiaotangshan military Hospital” in the fight against SARS to “the Huoshenshan military Hospital” established in 2020 to combat COVID-19, the PLA have always been on the front lines to protect the people of China. The PLA have always played their role as an innovative spearhead, towards making great contributions to the protection of people’s lives and property. In the face of the tough campaign aimed at lifting all poor people in China out of poverty, China’s armed forces have made full use of their resources to actively engage in various forms of targeted poverty-alleviation actions. As a result, the PLA helped 4,100 impoverished villages, 293,000 struggling households, and 924,000 poor individuals to rise up out of poverty. Without a doubt, the PLA have become an important force on the special battlefield of poverty alleviation.
Mr. Lester B. Pearson, the 14th Prime Minister of Canada, was an active advocate of multilateralism. He consciously linked Canada’s active participation in those UN activities and operations aimed at stabilizing international relations, enhancing national security, and exerting its own influence on the international stage. Located near the Chinese Embassy in Ottawa, is the Peacekeepers’ monument which is emblazoned with the words “Reconciliation: The Peacekeeping Monument” and is a manifestation of Canada’s contributions to UN peacekeeping missions.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said, “being able to enjoy peace is a blessing for the people and it is the responsibility of the PLA to protect it. The world is not entirely a peaceful one and peace needs to be safeguarded.” The PLA also hold high the banner of peace and justice. They have actively participated in UN peacekeeping missions, international counter-terrorism, escort missions, humanitarian aid efforts, and actively conducted exchanges and mutual cooperation with the armed forces of other countries. The PLA’s image as a force of peace, justice, and valour has not changed and will never change. To date, as the second largest contributor to the UN’s regular and peacekeeping budgets, China has sent over 40,000 peacekeepers to 25 UN peacekeeping missions, ranking the PLA first among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Twenty Chinese military peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives during these missions. Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, Under-Secretary-General for Peace Operations of UN said publicly, “We are very grateful for China’s support to the work of the United Nations in the field of peace and security. We also appreciate China’s commitment to the protection of civilians and to community outreach, as well as to key areas such as medicine and engineering. The performance of Chinese peacekeepers is highly commendable and it has contributed to high operational efficiency of our operations.”
Since December 2008, a message sent by escort fleets dispatched by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy has been continuously broadcast across the waters of the Gulf of Aden and off the Somali coast. “We are the Chinese Navy escort fleet, please call us on channel 16 if you need help.” This message has become a signal of safety for nearly 8,000 Chinese and foreign merchant ships transmitting this pirate-infested seaway. Since being commissioned in 2008, the naval hospital ship Peace Ark has carried out its “Harmonious Mission” on seven separate occasions. On those missions Peace Ark traveled to 43 countries, and provided medical services to over 230,000 thankful patients who have subsequently dubbed Peace Ark “the ship of life”. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the PLA have sent teams of military experts to 4 countries, provided assistance and anti-pandemic supplies for the armed forces of more than 50 countries, and shared COVID response experience with more than 10 countries, thereby contributing “Chinese strength” to international cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Changes to our world, our times and of history are unfolding today in ways like never before. This poses challenges that must be taken seriously by all of humanity. China stands ready to work with those peace-loving countries and peoples committed to development in order to carry out the Global Security Initiative and Global Development Initiative put forward by President Xi Jinping. It is China’s vision open up a broad path toward lasting peace and universal security, and to forge a strong synergy in order to build a community with a shared future for mankind. Let the torch of peace be passed on from generation to generation and the sound of peace echo throughout the world.