China marks 70th anniversary of Xi'an Incident Tuesday, December 12, 2006

China on Tuesday marked the 70th anniversary of the Xi'an Incident in which Kuomintang generals Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng detained their commander Chiang Kai-shek and forced him to end a civil war and join the Communists in fighting the Japanese invasion.

People in the ancient Chinese capital Xi'an flocked to Zhang's former residence Tuesday to visit an exhibition that recounts the life of the late Kuomintang general.

Fifty of Zhang's personal items are on display at a museum in Shenyang, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, where historians gathered to discuss Zhang's essays.

An exposition in the national capital Beijing has more than 70 cultural heritage items and 260 pictures on display, including Zhang's pocket watch, Yang's military uniform, epaulets and binoculars, and a lunchbox in which Song May-ling used to send pickles to her husband Chiang Kai-shek.

"A series of events are being held in many cities, including Xi'an, Beijing, Shenyang and Nanjing, to commemorate the Xi'an Incident," said Wei Shigang, head of the Xi'an Incident Memorial.

"The incident is widely believed to be a milestone that facilitated the cooperation between the Communists and Kuomintang and contributed to China's reunification movement."

On Dec. 12, 1936, Chiang, in pyjamas, barefoot and shivering, fled over the wall of his compound in Xi'an before being captured. The Communists helped to negotiate Chiang's release two weeks later, resulting in an alliance between the warring sides.

At the time, the Xi'an Incident was a big boost to morale in the war against Japan, he said.

The peaceful settlement of the Xi'an Incident also indicated the Chinese Communist Party became matured, said Prof. Li Yunfeng with the history department of Northwest China University.

Yang Hucheng's grandson Yang Han recently completed a 400,000-character biography to give an objective account of the late general's life, character and political career. The author also disclosed some information of Yang's descendants and a dozen of his former colleagues.

Many Chinese Internet users commemorated Zhang and Yang with postings. "My maternal grandfather used to be a surgeon in GeneralZhang Xueliang's army. Before he died in 1993, he insisted a stackof press clippings he collected about Zhang should accompany him to his grave," reads one of the postings.

Work has begun on re-editing a film shot in 1981 to commemorate the Xi'an Incident. The movie, Xi'an Incident, was a "milestone inChina's film history", said Chinese director Yang Fengliang.

"Judged from today's perspective, the movie seems a little immature. But its limitations make us realize how precious it is," said Yang, who was also involved in the production of award-winning movie Red Sorghum.

Yang said he will redo a number of frames on the movie, repair damaged film and redo the sound recording.

The film, produced by the Xi'an Film Studio and directed by Cheng Yin, won awards for best director and best supporting actor in 1982 at China's second Golden Rooster Awards, known as "China's Oscars".  

Editor: Yangtze Yan
Source: Xinhua