Opinion / From the Readers

Spirit of Long March lives on in today's China

By Eddie Turkson ( Updated: 2016-09-23 14:11

Spirit of Long March lives on in today's China

The author poses at a scenic spot in Ruijin, east China's Jiangxi province, Sept. 21, 2016. Ruijin, which is known as the cradle of the People's Republic of China and the starting point of the Long March of the Red Army, once served as the capital of the China Soviet Republic and the Red Army headquarters. [photo provided to]

Witnessing the 80th anniversary of the Long March is something I have longed for ever since coming to China eight years ago. I always wanted to get closer to where it all began - the historical roots of the momentous event that led to the founding of the new China.

I became interested in China at a young age after my mother returned from a trip to China with books, magazines and amazing photos of interesting places. As a child, I was particularly fascinated by the delicacies, the vast plains and the captivating smiles of Chinese friends my mum took photos with.

What was missing in those books and magazines were historical facts that made those smiles possible, probably because I couldn’t read Chinese, but clearly there weren’t photos depicting the struggles that the freedoms fighters or the Red Army encountered on their way to victory. It wasn't until recently that I heard the stories surrounding the Long March. An epic miraculous story often ignored by western historians.

Having read, watched and listened to historical accounts of the Long March, I was inclined to relegate it as just one of those miracles, but after subsequent reviews and in-depth research I’m confident that this wasn’t just any miracle.

I read of the struggles. Imagine climbing through some of the highest mountain ranges on earth, fording flooded rivers without any boats or safety equipment, and crossing rickety rope bridges while under enemy fire. Imagine being one of the soldiers on this march… This is the reality of the Chinese Red Army's Long March from 1934 to 1936.

That struggle is still evident today, the resilience and the zeal of the Chinese people to be victorious and successful. Today, the world over, everyone wants to share in the Chinese dream, people come from far to witness the Chinese success story, a development model based on communist ideals and principles. A community built by the people for the people.

China’s development model has been explored by many experts around the world; it has received praise and acceptance as a world-class model suitable for a country the size of China. What most experts leave out is what exactly makes the model thrive and sustainable.

From what I have observed is that spirit of the long march, that perseverance and the will to overcome every obstruction in the course of development. That is what most developing countries can learn from China - the never-give-up spirit. It is something that one only witnesses while living in China where migrants travel across mountains, hills and valleys to contribute in building the new China. That March hasn’t stopped; it continues today, as people from all over the country connected by roads, rail and air march towards the Chinese dreams.

That marched has transcended the borders of China, as Chinese development ideals and principles are exported to countries in Africa, Latin America, Europe and the Americas. Chinese investment is welcomed everywhere around the world. The Chinese model of development is a phenomenon unprecedented in history. It is recognised as an outstanding model by both developed and developing nations who are eager to replicate the model to their benefit. African countries, for example, having witnessed the success and achievements of China are increasingly engaging with China.

The seeds of this model unknown to many were sown during the Long March. It is that same spirit that makes the Chinese development model thrives and sustainable.

Personally, it has taken me long enough to accept that I cannot become Chinese but I can certainly share in the Chinese dream by telling the China story, the story of the Long March, the story of nation building, a story of true perseverance and the collective will to overcome forces of tyranny and oppression.

It is that story that I intend to share with my fellow countrymen, all Africans and my friends around the world.

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