Remembering the Fallen at Songshan
Last year, we published for Memorial Day a report on an amazing new memorial built in southern China, on the peak facing Songshan, location of a bloody, desperate battle that held in the balance the question of whether the Imperial Japanese army would run unfettered from Burma into southern China…or not.
This Memorial Day we’d like to share a bit more about this new tourism destination in the hopes you might be inspired to visit there some day. Located 50km southeast of Tengchong in the Baoshan mountain range of Yunnan province, Songshan rises to 6,600′ elevation at 24 44’43” N 98 54’21” E. Positioned majestically above the Nu river, it provided key support to the defense of the strategic Huitong bridge to the west.
You can visit this memorial by hired car from Tengchong. The arrangement of statues commemorating the Chinese Expeditionary Army soldiers includes a section of American and British advisors; the entire assembly is led at the front left position by General Joe Stilwell (bust in view in picture above). Arranged in a fashion evoking images of the ancient Qin emperor’s terracotta army unearthed in Xi’an, the memorial does a striking job of portraying contemporary and traditional Chinese values in remembering the fallen.
In the city of Tengchong itself, don’t miss visiting the new, fabulously constructed museum about the building of the Burma and Ledo Roads. These two massive efforts claimed numerous Chinese lives from the local area, but with the future of China in the balance, the leadership was faced with accomplishing the critical logistical task at any price. Alongside the museum you’ll find a temple and memorial to Sun Yatsen and memorial plaques and grottos for the Chinese veterans of the South China theater and for individual American airmen who flew and fought with the Flying Tigers.
Nearby in the region, on Baoshan itself, you can find the remains of trenches dug to defend the mountaintop command and control bunker (the deep pits of which also are still clearly seen). These trenches have been recently and gradually investigated by Chinese war historians and/or archaelogists, but there is very little tourism infrastructure yet in place to allow self-guided touring and understanding. We highly advise you seek a local guide to explain the history and take you around the site.
If you do plan a trip to visit these memorial areas, The Tai Initiative would be very pleased to hear from you. We may be able to assist your planning and execution; we would certainly love to hear from you after the trip and see your photos.