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President to pay respects to ROC expeditionary forces
Central News Agency
2014-09-02 11:22 PM
Taipei, Sept. 2 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou will visit the Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei Wednesday to pay his respects to those who fell while serving their country and mark the nation's Armed Forces Day. It will also be the first time a Republic of China president has paid homage to the spirits of tens of thousands of ROC soldiers who died fighting alongside the Allied Forces against Japan in Myanmar during World War II. After years of efforts, Taiwan held a special ceremony last Wednesday to "welcome home" the spirits of the around 100,000 men who fell between 1942 and 1944 fighting in the former British colony. Around 300,000 ROC servicemen were sent to Myanmar, then known as Burma, and they played a major role in deterring westward operations into India by Japanese forces, which laid the basis of a counterattack by the Allies. On April 17, 1942, a large British contingent at an oil field in Yenangyaung, central Maynmar, was surrounded by Japanese troops. Gen. Sun Li-jen, head of the 38th Division of the Chinese Expeditionary Force, and Liu Fang-wu, commander of the force's 113th Regiment, led ROC troops on an emergency rescue mission after Britain asked the ROC for help. Two days later, after intense fighting, the Chinese forces defeated the Japanese and rescued over 7,000 British soldiers. Ma Wei-kuo, spokeswoman of the Presidential Office, said President Ma attaches great importance to this proud chapter of the ROC expeditionary forces, which made the Allies see the ROC forces in a different light and raised the stature of the ROC in the international community. The other significant point is that it allowed the late President Chiang Kai-shek to attend the Cairo Conference in 1943 in his capacity as commander of the China War Zone, where he signed a declaration with the heads of the United States and Britain stating that Japan must return all land it stole from the ROC, including all provinces in northeastern China, as well as Taiwan and the outlying Penghu islands. The president mentioned that on the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Yenangyaung in April 1992, then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a visit to United States personally thanked Liu for his efforts during the war. Ma has also instructed the Ministry of National Defense to screen a memorial film on the ROC expeditionary forces Wednesday. According to the spokeswoman, President Ma wants to underscore that "the sacrifice and devotion of the servicemen are closely related to the survival and development of the ROC," and that the ROC servicemen have left an indelible mark in history with their contributions to the nation. (By Kelven Huang, Lo Kuang-jen and Lilian Wu)
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