xi's moments

Visitors flock to Yunnan memorial

By Liu Xiangrui | China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-01 10:57

Unlike most public museums, the Memorial for the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in Western Yunnan, located in Tengchong city of Yunnan province, is a very special one.

Nearly all of the 80,000 items kept in the memorial were compiled by a native collector named Duan Shengkui over the past 30 years.

The memorial was built by the local government with an investment of 150 million yuan ($22 million) and opened to the public for free in 2013.

With a diverse collection of pieces the memorial is arranged in such a way that it can be used not just for exhibition, but for research and education.

Now, a national-level one museum, the venue has become a popular tourist site in Tengchong and received over three million visitors in 2017, ranking first among all of Yunnan province's cultural tourist destinations.

Separated into several sections, the museum not only displays various relics from the war, from weapons, documents, pictures and items used in daily life, but also shows the local history of the War of Resistance and its effect on that part of the country, especially regarding the Chinese Expeditionary Force and the battle for the key supply line linking China's Yunnan province and Myanmar.

Although Tengchong is located on the corner of China's southwest border, it is one of the battlefields that witnessed some of the fiercest fighting during the War of Resistance.

In September 1944, Tengchong became the earliest county town to be recovered by Chinese army during the war. The town, once a prosperous waypoint on the Tea-horse Ancient Road in Southwest China, was almost completely destroyed during the battle for its liberation.

It was estimated that, during its nearly three-year occupation by Japanese troops from May 1942, more than 90,000 civilians were killed and 28,000 homes were destroyed in the Baoshan area, which Tengchong is a major part of.

A lot of the memorial's arrangement ideas were borrowed from an earlier private museum established by Duan in 2005.

On entering the memorial, the audience can see a thought-provoking display of 1,300 steel helmets arranged in a matrix on three walls, as if seeing many soldiers marching through in units.

According to Duan, these steel helmets, which are of different types and used by soldiers of different nations during the war, were collected by him visiting houses in his hometown over the years, and some even have bullet holes in them.

Duan is also good at artistic reconstruction in his arrangements, using a large number of real cultural relics, accompanied by painted backgrounds and silica gel figures, as well as the sound effects of rumbling guns and airplanes.

To create one single large-scale battle scene in the memorial, Duan used hundreds of relics from his collection.

The exhibition ends with a key he was given by a local villager. It is said to be the key to a forgotten Japanese arms depot, which was turned in by a Japanese soldier after he surrendered.

"The key represents suspense. There is more about this part of history, and more relics waiting for me to identify and collect," says Duan, whose collection has gradually expanded to more than 10,000 pieces.

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