LONDON, Nov. 7 (Xinhua) -- A special evening gala has been held in London, commemorating the 140,000 Chinese workers serving on the European battlefield during the First World War.
The Unforgettable Commemoration, hosted by UK Chinese Art Center at London Hackney Empire theatre on Tuesday evening, drew hundreds of audience with performances given by both Chinese and British actors and actresses.
Powerful and appealing music, dance, poetry reading, multimedia and other artistic expressions were interspersed with documentary images and interviews with historians and descendants of British soldiers during the First World War.
The gala organizer said they had done a lot of preparatory work for the performance, including interviewing Chinese and British historians, politicians, and descendants of Chinese laborers.
One hundred years ago, up to 100,000 Chinese labourers joined the British ranks in the First World War to provide logistical support. Sent on a gruelling three-month journey to Europe, the bewildered labourers were assigned to work digging trenches, building docks, laying tracks, unloading ships and repairing tanks. But their story has been all but wiped from memories of the war. In this centenary year of the war, more and more people in Britain and the European continent are campaigning for their legacy to be remembered.
Steve Lau, chair of the Ensuring We Remember campaign who was in the audience, told Xinhua that "it is good to remind the British people that China was a friend and ally in both World Wars, and that China remains a friend of the UK."
"The so-called China threat is a myth created by people who do not understand China or deliberately want to paint a bad picture of China's rise. The story of Chinese Labour Corps can show the other side of the argument, not of a China threat, but of the China friend," he added.
Ensuring We Remember is working to build a permanent war memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps in Britain early next year.
"Today we gather here to mark this history and commemorate the Chinese labourers lost in the First World War, not only because they were our own compatriots, but more importantly we are here to reflect the historical lessons we have learnt that we must all cherish peace, safeguard peace and oppose war," said Minister Zhu Qin of the Chinese Embassy to the UK.