Facing Future Global Challenges Together – The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Is a Key to Success
Ambassador Cong Peiwu Publishes a Signed Article on Esprit de Corps Canadian Military Magazine
29 July 2021
Many of my Canadians friends from all walks of life are interested in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). One of the questions that I am most frequently asked is in regards to the unique traditions of the PLA.
My reply to this is to point out that the PLA has a glorious tradition of serving the people. It is loved and respected by the Chinese people and as a result it has earned the popular monikers of the People’s Army and the Most Admirable People. Since it was founded on August 1, 1927, the PLA has remained committed to the lofty value of fighting for the people, and through heroic and remarkable feats, it has won the widespread support of the Chinese people.
In the early challenging days of the army, PLA founder Mao Zedong, and his commander-in-chief General Zhu De, like the vast number of their soldiers, marched and fought in hand-made straw sandals. The PLA is distinguished from any previous army in Chinese history by its firm connection and dedication to the people.
The story of the “halved quilt” that happened during the 1934-1936 Long March of the PLA is still well remembered by the Chinese people. When passing through a village, three female soldiers sought shelter in the home of a villager. Seeing the villager’s life of privation, the soldiers cut their only quilt in two, leaving half with the villager upon their departure. This “halved quilt” legend has not only touched the hearts of four generations of the villager’s family, but also the hearts of millions of Chinese people. It vividly shows that the army and the people suffer together through thick and thin, and it reflects their close bonds.
In the book China’s Red Army Marches published in the 1930s, American journalist Agnes Smedley wrote predictably about that while it did not look like an army, it was in fact the seedling of the great Chinese People’s Liberation Army（PLA), which conquered all of China and shocked the world less than 20 years later. Likewise, when the American journalist Edgar Snow conducted interviews in Yan’an in the 1930s, he felt that there was a great force in the Chinese army, which he called the oriental magic and he asserted this was the light of rejuvenation.
There is a popular Chinese saying that the people’s army loves and in return is also loved by the people. Shanghai is the birthplace of the Communist Party of China. When the PLA liberated Shanghai 72 years ago, it was widely praised for not entering people’s private houses, but instead opting to sleep on the streets. Over the past 72 years, the PLA has witnessed the profound changes of Shanghai, and has always remained firm in the resolution to serve the people, shining brightly in Shanghai and China.
Recently, Canada has made positive progress in vaccination, ranking among the top developed countries in vaccination rates. This could not be done without the support of the Canadian Armed Forces. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, the PLA has similarly put the people’s lives first, and headed for the pandemic’s frontline in Wuhan, the capital city of Hubei Province. During the two months spanning from severe winter to warm spring, the PLA’s 4,000 medical team members dispatched to support Hubei treated a total of 7,198 confirmed patients, eventually achieving the desired goal of “winning victories with zero infections”.
While the pandemic remains raging throughout the world, the PLA continues its actions. It has actively carried out international anti-pandemic cooperation with armies of other countries by sending medical expert groups, conducting video exchanges of anti-pandemic experience, and providing pandemic prevention vaccines and other materials. On those medical materials donated by the PLA were attached heartwarming words, which sent messages of confidence and strength to the people combatting the global pandemic. These gestures showed the PLA’s active actions and sincere will to build a human community with a shared future.
Canada is an important advocate of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping operations, while China is a key force within it. China is the second largest contributor to both peacekeeping in terms of financial assistance and UN membership fees, and the largest troop-contributing country (TCC) among the permanent members of the UN Security Council. Over the past 30 years, the PLA have contributed more than 50,000 service members to nearly 30 UN peacekeeping missions. They have left their footprint in over 20 regions ravaged by war. Sadly, sixteen Chinese military peacekeepers have sacrificed their lives on overseas UN missions. The PLA have demined the conflict zone of Lebanon and Israel despite continuous gunfire, built roads in the mosquito-infested tropical jungle of Sudan, transported materials throughout the complex environment of Liberia, practiced medicine for the people in the disease-ridden Democratic Republic of the Congo, and built infrastructure in South Sudan shortly after it gained its independence. These Chinese “Blue Helmets” have played an important role in supervising ceasefires, stabilizing the situation, protecting civilians, providing security escorts, and supporting security, thereby earning the PLA a world-renowned title for themselves.
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping stated that, the Communist Party of China cares about the future of humanity, and wishes to move forward in tandem with all progressive forces around the world. China has always worked to safeguard world peace, contribute to global development, and preserve international order. The Chinese people have always believed that “Only when establish yourself and then can help the world. Only when you shoulder your responsibilities can you go far”. Contributing to building a human community with a shared future is the significance of China’s national defence in the New Era and the significance it means for the world. The dreams of the Chinese people are closely linked with those of all the people of the world. A peaceful, stable, and prosperous China is an opportunity and a blessing for the world. And a strong PLA is a just force for maintaining world peace and development. No matter how the international situation changes, the PLA will adhere to its international responsibilities and obligations, hold high the banner of win-win and cooperation, and practice its commitment with tangible actions by providing more public security goods to the international community and working hand in hand with the armies of other countries. It will continue to make the world a better place, make people’s life better, and build a new chapter in mankind’s history of collectively overcoming trouble and strife.