Lien to make Xi'an homecoming
The Xi'an leg of Lien Chan's trip to the mainland is the focus of discussion for various circles of society in the city, Lien's birthplace and capital of Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
Locals, especially those who lived and studied with Lien in his childhood, are hoping to express their care and goodwill to Taiwan compatriots by giving Lien a warm homecoming.
Bai Cailing, the present headmaster of Xi'an Houzaimen Primary School where Lien used to study, said her school sent a letter to the Kuomintang (KMT) chairman inviting him to visit his alma mater, for which the school has prepared a special ceremony.
Liu Xuesong, 74, a local resident who went to the same school as Lien more than 60 years ago, is hoping to run into his old schoolmate.
"Lien is younger than me so we were not in the same class. But we were all members of the school's boy scouts and trained together," Liu said.
Lien Chan was born in Xi'an in 1936 and lived in the city for eight years before moving to Chongqing with his family in 1944.
Lien was one year old in 1937 when Japan launched its invasion of China, and Xi'an was repeatedly bombed by Japanese planes. According to Lien, his childhood was spent in fear of bombs falling from the sky, from Japanese air raids. His given name "Chan" means war in Chinese.
Lien recalled his early life in Xi'an in an article entitled "The Air-raid Shelter under Xi'an," which was published in Taiwan's "Shaanxi Documents No 88" on January 15, 1994. He wrote: "My birthplace Xi'an was often bombed by Japanese planes. I still remember there were many air-raid shelters under the city wall.
"Every day my father had to go around the city wall to his office, and, watching my father leaving home, I always worried if he would return safe and sound."
Lien went on: "I was disgusted by the invading Japanese when I was a little boy, and later when I grew-up, I understood that I should be disgusted with Japanese militarism."
"In those days," Lien continued, "we could not have classes properly and had to stay in the air-raid shelter. Once a bomb exploded next to our shelter and some people were killed, the sound of calls for help was constant and the scene was so horrible that one could hardly bear to look at it.
"I was looking forward to the day when we defeated the Japanese invaders and save our people and country," Lien said in the article.
In 1944, with the war still raging, 8-year-old Lien moved with his family to Chongqing in Southwest China, which, at the time, was also getting bombed by Japanese planes.
Lien's grandfather, Lien Heng, also suffered at the hands of the Japanese. was forced to leave the island with his family after it was occupied by Japan in 1895, the year he was born. In 1932, Lien's family moved to Hangzhou, capital of East China's Zhejiang Province, and four years later, Lien Heng died of a disease in Shanghai.
Lien Chan's father Lien Zhendong, a Kuomintang official who was sent to Xi'an in 1932 to prepare the city to become the second capital of the central KMT government, took his whole family to the northwest city, according to Wang Minquan, a researcher from the Xi'an Municipal Archives.
"In the period when Lien Zhendong was working in Xi'an, he successively served as a special member of the Xijing Preparatory Committee and director of the General Affairs Section of the Xijing Urban Construction Committee," Wang Minquan told China Daily.
One year after Lien's family moved to Chongqing in 1944, and after the victory in the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-45), Taiwan, which had been occupied by Japan since 1895, was returned to China. Lien Zhendong was sent to the island by the KMT central government for the island's hand-over. In 1946, 10-year-old Lien, together with his mother, left the mainland for Taiwan, Wang said.
Although Lien's family lived in Xi'an only eight years, Lien was still left with a deep impression of those who lived and worked with the family during that time.
Sun Fenggang, 85, a local resident who was a friend of Lien Chan's father in the 1930s, told China Daily that he would never forget Lien Zhendong's encouragement in those difficult days.
"I knew Lien Zhendong through Ge Gaode, my colleague and best friend working in the Northwest Hospital then. Ge was a director of the hospital's accounts department. He had a close relationship with Lien because both of them worked for the Xijing Preparatory Committee," Sun said.
"I saw my friend Ge often and made friends with Lien since I often met him in Ge's home. Lien left a deep impression on me, with his high moral standing, rigorous and positive attitude towards work and life."
Lien's constant encouragement to Sun, 10 years Lien's junior, to acquire skills for his future makes him happy even today, Sun said.
Sun also has great respect for the way Lien's mother taught the future leader of Taiwan's opposition party. She moved her family three times, not to a better house, but to improve the moral environment, Sun said.
Sun was very pleased to hear the news of Lien Chan's upcoming visit, so he wrote a letter to him through local media, saying Xi'an was Lien's home and his homecoming was the collective wish of all locals.
Sun's joy is shared by many Xi'an residents. Sun Fengyu, the family's first landlord when they lived in Ducheng Village, said his yard and house were unchanged from the time the Lien family lived there.
"It is the only yard which has remained unchanged and those villagers who once received the family regret that they did not leave their old houses unchanged," said Sun Fengyu, a 69-year-old farmer.
Ma Runnian, director of Ducheng Village's villager committee, said locals had been preparing for a week for Lien's visit.
"I hope Lien Chan can return to our village and gain a better understanding of the changes of the past more than 60 years. Lien's grandmother died when the family stayed in our village, and we villagers hope to meet Lien Chan when he comes to offer a sacrifice to his grandmother," Ma said.
The tomb of Lien's grandmother is located next to Qingliang Temple, near Ducheng Village in the southern suburbs of Xi'an, and was put under protection in 2002, according to Li Jingxiang, director of the Shaanxi Provincial and Xi'an Municipal Motherland Reunification Working Committee.
Li said he was commissioned by the Taiwan Shaanxi Fellow Association during the Qingming Festival in 2002 to offer a sacrifice at the tomb of Lien Chan's grandmother, which took two months to find. The tomb has since been renovated.
"Lien's grandmother was a very kind-hearted woman, according to elderly villagers in Ducheng. She often helped and gave food and clothes to the poor farmers in the village, and she burned incense and prayed everyday at Qingliang Temple. Before her death, she told her son she would still burn incense everyday after her death, so she was buried next to the temple," Li said.
Lien will visit Houzaimen Primary School and offer a sacrifice to his grandmother on April 30 and May 1.
(China Daily 04/29/2005 page5)
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