Building of the UK’s National Memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps Confirmed

关于设立一战时中国劳工永久性纪念碑计划已确定,文末是关于这段历史的中文记载。

Three years into a campaign for a UK National Memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps, the Ensuring We Remember Campaign has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese development company ABP (London) Investment Limited (ABP) for the memorial to be constructed as part of the centrepiece of ABP’s £1.7bn development of a new business district on the northern side of the Royal Albert Dock in Newham.

John Miu, COO of ABP London said:,

We are honoured to host the UK’s first public memorial to the Chinese Labour Corps on the site of Royal Albert Dock London, where we are constructing the premiere business gateway between China and the UK, and London’s next business hub. We are proud of the contribution made by the Chinese Labour Corps in supporting front line allied troops: it is crucial that future generations remember their sacrifice and contribution while we enjoy living and working in a time of peace. Therefore we have set aside £100,000 budget to ensure the memorial to be built on the site and the budget supports design, landscaping, lighting, foundation construction and planning and licensing.”

ABP has national and global backing to create a new business district with supporting residential, retail and leisure at the 35 acre Royal Albert Dock site, which was the epic centre of trade between UK and Asia 100 years ago. The building of the UK’s national memorial to the contribution made by Chinese workers to the Allied war effort of the First World War now means it will also be home to what is undoubtedly to become an iconic symbol of Chinese heritage in the UK. Steve Lau, Chair of the Ensuring We Remember Campaign, said:

“As ABP pushes forward in developing a future business district for London and the UK, it is fantastic that they also being so generous towards its past. Through ABP’s support, our campaign for a long overdue memorial to the Chinese volunteers who came to Britain’s assistance in her hour of need, but who were then almost completely forgotten enters into its final chapter. Ensuring we remember is no longer a dream, it is now set to become reality.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) have long supported the efforts from within the Chinese community to commemorate the contribution made by Chinese labourers. Lord Bourne, Minister for Communities at (DCLG) noted:

“I am delighted that the campaign for the long overdue memorial to the brave men who served in Chinese Labour Corps has had such a tremendous impact.
“They formed the largest contingent of workers recruited for the war effort, but too little is known of the dangerous yet essential work they carried out on the Western Front.
“They came to Britain’s aid in her hour of need, so it’s right that we remember and honour their contribution and within a year we will see what promises to be a magnificent addition to London’s diverse cultural heritage sites.”

The Chinese Embassy in London has long supported the campaign for a memorial, and His Excellency, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, remarked,

“The project will help everyone to understand the historical contribution of the Chinese Labour Corps, promote harmony between British Chinese and local communities and further China-Britain friendship.”

Wholehearted support has also been received from the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP for East Ham, in which the memorial is now to be built, and has tabled an Early Day Motion in Parliament noting that the contribution made by the Chinese has yet to be fully recognised, and welcoming the building of the memorial at the Royal Albert Dock.

“It is regrettable that their toil and sacrifice were largely overlooked after the Great War, and have never properly been commemorated. A better tribute should be paid to their extraordinary contribution; their sacrifices helped deliver Britain’s victory. I warmly welcome the planned permanent memorial in ABP Royal Albert Dock.”

第一次世界大战爆发一百多年,许多几乎被人遗忘的故事正在不断出现。中国劳工团的故事—96,000名志愿者的力量—是这样的一个故事。

这些人的贡献经常被忽视或归为一个历史的注脚。我们相信,这些人应该得到更好的,我们将永远不会忘记他们。

中国爆发战争

一战爆发时中国正处于混乱状态。两千多年的封建统治已被革命者推翻了三年,而建立新的政府机构仍然遥遥无期。整个国家的80%以上都在外国势力的控制之下,最主要是英国人和法国人,也有意大利人,美国人,日本人和德国人 – 甚至对刚果自由邦都做出了让步!中国在许多方面都无法实现自理,更不用说到千里之外参战。不出所料,中国在战争爆发后就宣布了中立,希望战争不会波及到本国。

战争对中国的直接影响

但战争终究还是降临到了中国身上。英国的盟友日本入侵并控制了德国在中国山东的租界。为了明白山东的重要意义,同时还能欣赏比英格兰和威尔士加起来还要大的土地,人们必须明白,这是中国人的精神家园。那里不仅是孔子的故里,还是道教和中国佛教的宗教圣地。有时它被称为中国的圣地。

日本吞并德国在中国的特权仅仅是一个开始。1915年1月,在英法将注意力放在欧洲战场之际,日本以臭名昭著的二十一条加紧令中国成为其傀儡。

中国以中立国的身份冒险援助盟国

1915年,中华民国总统袁世凯在称帝失败后去世。为了中国的利益,在蔡先生主导下的新政府决定协助盟军。最初的主要动机是中国期望能以战胜国的身份收回战败国德国之前侵占的租界。

但这不能被仅仅看作是一种安全,纯粹的利己之举。关于谁会赢得这场战争,中国国内进行了激烈的辩论。在进入现代化的过程当中,中国政府选择德国人来训练自己的军队 – 因为德国军队是世界上最高效,最有纪记律的部队。许多警告支持盟军的许多国家都担心胜利后的德国会对自己进行怎样的报复。
为了维护自己的中立性, 中国政府向盟国提供非战斗劳工以给予协助。但这个提议最初被法国和英国拒绝了,因为他们觉得中国的参战会使事情变得更加复杂!

盟国接受援助

结果法国首先做出让步并接受劳工援助,紧接着英国也全然接受。究竟是什么变化了两国的决定呢?也许有两件事奠定了这一决定的通过。首先,战争很明显是一场持久战,而且保证一定的数量将会在消耗战中起到重要作用。其次,英国方面的的决定性因素是因为自身在索姆河战役中遭受了巨大损失。

中国劳工营的形成

法国与中国政府签署了一份50,000名劳工的合同。其中的10,000人后来借给了美国。英国有一份开放式协议,但最终记录显示共有134,353名中国劳工被招募并运往法国。

中国对德宣战

中国劳工输送到西线直接导致了中国的宣战:1917年2月24日,载有法国政府招募的900名中国劳工的法国船Athos号被德国潜艇发射的鱼雷击中,543名中国人丧生。于是中国政府于1917年8月14日对德宣战。

中国劳工营的工作

合同规定中国劳工工作3年,每周工作七天,每天10小时。他们每年都有3天的假期 – 一天是中国的农历新年,一天是端午节,一天是中秋节。劳工休息时只能呆在营地:即使营地被德国人炮轰,他们也不得离开。英国首相劳合·乔治曾在他的回忆中评论中国劳工营在特殊恶劣条件工作,并能在那样的条件下依然沉着等等。

而中国劳工营从事的工作是非常多样的。从挖战壕到修理坦克。他们在轮船和火车上卸货,修建公路,铺铁轨。他们在战争结束后还要做一些危险可怕的工作,即恢复现场秩序,挖掘死者,挪动尸体并把它们埋在战争公墓里。

巨大牺牲

在第一次世界大战期间被杀害的中国人的数目是一个颇有争议的话题。联邦战争墓地中被埋葬和记念的中国人大约有2,000人。一些中国资料中的数字为20,000人。几乎可以肯定,上述两种数据都有可能搞错了,而事实我们永远也不会知道。

战后

中国希望在和会上返回山东主权,当初英国和美国还承诺支持此事。由于日本拥有更大的优先权,最后和会成员在没有中国代表出席的情况下将德国的租界交给了日本。这是中国现代史上的一个关键时刻。在得知自己被人欺骗和背叛后,中国拒绝签署凡尔赛条约。中国各地掀起了轰轰烈烈的公开抗议活动,即著名的“五四运动”,它直接催生了中国共产党的根基。知识分子期待西方国家解决中国问题的态度发生了显著的转变。

所有的中国劳工甚至一度回到了中国,但造化弄人。作为盟友,中国向欧洲输送了大量粮食,当时还能享受着剩余的收获。按以前的情况看,通常剩余的粮食会由政府储存起来应对饥荒。自1918年开始的三年歉收导致了中国北方1921年-1922年的大饥荒,3000万人忍饥挨饿。按照中国官方数据来看,死亡人数至少达50万。

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