China pays tribute to WWII US pilots, hopes to improve strained ties
02 Nov 2023, 07:05 GMT+10
- China paid tribute to two American World War II veterans, among the last surviving members of the Flying Tigers, a U.S. military command that aided China in its battle against Japan.
- Mel McMullen, in his late 90s, and Harry Moyer, who celebrated his 103rd birthday during the visit, were part of the Flying Tigers, known for their pivotal role in the war effort.
- g. The Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of the veterans meeting Vice President Han Zheng.
BEIJING, China: China paid tribute to two American World War II veterans, Mel McMullen and Harry Moyer, among the last surviving members of the Flying Tigers, a U.S. military command that aided China in its battle against Japan.
Their recognition comes when both the U.S. and China seek inspiration from past collaborations to mend strained relations.
Mel McMullen, in his late 90s, and Harry Moyer, who celebrated his 103rd birthday during the visit, were part of the Flying Tigers, known for their pivotal role in the war effort. Their visit, highlighted in China’s main evening news broadcast, signifies an effort to bridge the gap in the deteriorating relationship between the two nations, marked by disputes over trade, technology, security, and human rights.
McMullen recalled the extraordinary bravery of Chinese farmers who risked their lives to save downed American pilots, sheltering them during the day and moving them from village to village at night despite the severe consequences they faced from the Japanese.
“People are the same. Their governments may be different, but the people actually always have one desire, and that is to live and to raise their families in peace and in the customs of their predecessors. And I needed to say that and I am sorry I took so much time,” he said at a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The Chinese state broadcaster CCTV aired footage of the veterans meeting Vice President Han Zheng. He underscored the importance of collaboration between China and the U.S. to address global challenges and expressed the hope that the spirit of the Flying Tigers would endure for generations.
Accompanying the veterans was Nell Calloway, the granddaughter of their former commander, Maj. Gen. Claire Chennault, who founded the Flying Tigers. Initially, the group consisted of American pilots serving in China’s air force before being absorbed into the U.S. military’s operations in China.
The U.S. and China have been gradually rebuilding their relationship, strained over the past few years due to various factors, including the pandemic and geopolitical tensions.
While acknowledging the current rivalry between the U.S. and China, U.S. Ambassador to China Nicholas Burns emphasized the enduring connection between the peoples of both nations. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi cautioned that the path to a meeting between President Biden and President Xi Jinping would not be without challenges, despite indications of an agreement to hold one during next month’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.