An extensive network of tunnels, bunkers and trenches built by the Imperial Japanese Army is still intact at one of the bloodiest battlefields of World War II near the Chinese border with Myanmar.
The government recently organized a tour for reporters to observe scars of the war on the remote 2,000-meter Mount Laifeng in Tengchong, Yunnan province, which is now a well-known spot for hiking and other weekend activities.
“The Japanese Army’s bunkers were very solidly built, causing great trouble for the Chinese military,” said Li Zhicai, a 59-year-old curator at a local museum, as he escorted reporters through the bunker zone.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, Britain and the United States sent relief and logistics supplies to the Kuomintang government in Chongqing, led by Chiang Kai-shek, through Myanmar and Yunnan province.
To cut the supply routes, the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Tengchong in 1942 and fortified Mount Laifeng, or the “rising phoenix mountain,” which looks over the town.
A counteroffensive by Kuomintang forces, coupled with heavy bombing by U.S. aircraft, enabled China to regain the area in 1944.
The Chinese government started research and preservation work at the battle site last year, and an extensive network of 1- to 2-meter-deep bunkers is now clearly visible.
The reporters were also taken to the graves of soldiers and a museum commemorating China’s war against Japanese invasion. It also provided an opportunity for participants to interview Chinese survivors of the battle.
“Seventy years have passed since the war’s end, and China now boasts strong national prestige,” said Lu Caiwen, a 91-year-old survivor of fighting at the mountain. “As the majority of both Japanese and Chinese people aspire for peace, the younger generation must develop historical knowledge and work to protect peace.”