Landmark documentary to reveal Britain's "forgotten" Chinese army in WWI

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-12 23:22:36|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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LONDON, Nov. 12 (Xinhua) -- A British television Channel 4 documentary that reveals the role a 140,000- strong Chinese army played in World War I will be aired Sunday night, seeking to archive their vital contribution and war mementos 100 years after their arrival in Europe to serve.

Britain's Forgotten Army, the landmark documentary which tells the story of the Chinese Labor Corps workers who came to European battlefields and risked their lives for the Allied war effort, will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on the weekend of Remembrance Day.

An official statement from Channel 4 press office said that the documentary will examine a treasure trove of recently discovered unpublished letter, diaries and documents which give light to how and why these unsung heroes were recruited by Britain and France.

The documentary is expected to correct an oversight of the credits of the Chinese workers who have been minimized in the official histories. The workers, recruited to prop up the British and French army, were dubbed as "the sinews of the war" and tasked with building vital roads and trench systems, repairing railways, maintaining tanks, dismantling un-exploded bombs as well as keeping precarious supply lines operational.

Of the Chinese army, 96,000 served the British army.

Jazz Gowans, executive producer for the documentary, said the Chinese army worked 10-18 hours a day, seven days a week with only three days holiday a year.

"Yet their contribution was repeatedly erased from history," he said. "Their story needs to be told."

The contribution of the Chinese Labor Corps continued long after the Armistice Day, but they were painted out of history because of prejudice and racism.

"There are elements of the betrayal story you heard about how China was betrayed by the allies," Simon Chu, director of the documentary told Xinhua.

Thomas Chan, Deputy Lieutenant for the London Borough of Redbridge, told Xinhua that the contribution of the Chinese has never been recognized.

"Of the 60,000 Great War memorials across Britain, including those to even animals, none commemorates the Chinese," said Chan, who has been actively working to commemorate and raise awareness of the role of the Chinese who aided Britain during the war.

"They were crucial in enabling Allied forces to keep fighting," he said.