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London commemorates Chinese World War I laborers

2018/12/5 10:33:27   source:Global Times

Photo: Sun Wei/GT

A photo exhibit featuring the Chinese Labor Corps (CLC) in WWI was held at the China Exchange in London on Tuesday and Wednesday, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI. The exhibit showed hidden stories of 140,000 Chinese laborers recruited by Britain and France to serve the Allies during the war.

Minister Ma Hui of the Chinese Embassy in the UK said at the opening ceremony that Chinese laborers in WWI were part of the history of Sino-British relations. Their stories had been dusted for decades and did not receive the respect and attention they deserved. In recent years, the contributions of the CLC have begun to be recognized and valued by mainstream British society and people from all walks of life.

Wu Guan, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Shandong Provincial Government, said that as a major source of Chinese laborers in WWI, Shandong collected a wide range of historical materials to showcase that tragic period in history. The exhibit showed approximately 200 photos, some of which were first revealed to the public.

Some of the descendants of the Chinese laborers came to the exhibit to discuss the tragic experiences and historical stories of their ancestors.

A number of rare photos were provided by retired property manager John de Lucy, whose grandfather, Lieutenant William James Hawking, was a British officer during WWI and was in charge of CLC.

"It was only 3 years ago when I found the box in my dining room cupboard," De Lucy told the Global Times, adding that he knew there were some boxes from his grandfather's time in China, but had no idea they were such an important part of history.

"It was very lucky that I found them," De Lucy said. From 1917 to the end of WWI, the CLC dug trenches, built roads and railways, unloaded munitions and carried out many other tasks essential to keep the British Army supplied with troops and equipment. Many remained in France until 1921 clearing unexploded bombs from the battlefields.

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Sponsor:Information Office of Shandong Provincial People’s Government