Across China: Former U.S. General’s 140th Birth Anniversary Celebrations Show China-u.s. Friendship


A series of commemorative events have been organized lately in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality to mark the 140th birth anniversary of Joseph Stilwell, a former U.S. general who helped the Chinese government and people during the fight against Japanese aggression.

During his 42-year military service, Stilwell made five visits to China and resided in the country for 12 years.

While serving in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II, he provided support to the Chinese people in their resistance against Japanese aggression. His efforts contributed to the final victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.

In 2015, Stilwell was posthumously honored with a medal for fighting side by side with China during World War II.

Stilwell’s great-granddaughters Susan Cole and Nancy Millward visited his former residence in Chongqing, which has now been transformed into a museum — the only museum in the country named after a foreign military figure.

An exhibition featuring Stilwell’s life started Tuesday in Chongqing. Nearly 200 historical photographs and more than 60 items have been put on display. They vividly capture the life and military career of Stilwell, as well as his passion for traditional Chinese culture and his profound love for the Chinese people.

“I think one of my personal favorites when seeing these photos in the exhibit is when General Stilwell was with the Chinese troops. When he was training them and when he went to the frontline, he was really with Chinese soldiers. To me, that’s the most touching,” Millward said.

The Stilwell family has unwaveringly promoted people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States, and Stilwell’s daughters established a scholarship fund in 1982 to support Chinese students at U.S. universities. Over the past four decades, this scholarship has benefited more than 50 Chinese students.

During this visit to Chongqing, Cole and Millward also brought their children.

According to Millward, people-to-people exchanges are very important for the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Her motivation for bringing her children to China on this occasion is to show them a different world, driven by her conviction that despite differences, people still need unity, friendship, inclusiveness and mutual understanding. “This is also the spiritual legacy left to us by General Stilwell.”

“Chinese people never forget a friend,” General Stilwell’s 83-year-old grandson John Easterbrook said, speaking via video link. “Stilwell’s legacy of friendship with the Chinese people and the contributions that flowed from that friendship should be remembered and built upon.”

Tao Yan, the curator of the museum, said the museum will strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the U.S. side, continue to collect, preserve and study historical documents, and carry forward the spirit of General Stilwell’s contribution to people-to-people exchanges between China and the United States.