Chinese veterans lose war on poverty despite winning battles

September 16, 2011Jing Gao2 Comments, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A veteran wearing dozens of medals and insignias was spotted begging on the street, according to a web post on MOP, a popular Chinese discussion forum, provoking another wave of public criticism over the country’s mistreatment of those who went through fire and water and made huge sacrifices for the territorial integrity of the land as well as the founding of the regime.


The post author did not specify the date and place of this discovery. According to the post and information on the begging sign, he joined the second column at the Northeast Democratic Coalition Army, later renamed Northeast People’s Liberation Army, in 1946, and finally rose to the rank of Major before he was demobilized in 1966. He was persecuted during the Cultural Revolution and lost all documents and records as accounts of his military service.


Literal translation of the begging sign by Ministry of Tofu:

The veteran joined the second column at the Northeast Democratic Coalition Army in 1946. From a security guard to head of a scout platoon, to company commander, to battalion commander, commander of a training and finally being granted the rank of major. Demobilized in 1966. Lost documents during the Cultural Revolution. Had not been transferred to civilian work until 39 years later. Assessed with a second-degree disability: sequela of traumatic brain injury. Was seriously ill from public ‘physical struggles (批斗)’during the Cultural Revolution. Not recovered until 1996. When (I was) panhandling in Shenyang, Zhao Xianshun, the commander in chief of the Lanzhou Military Region heard of the bitter experiences of his former security guard. He went through the relevant procedures at the original unit, produced proof of status and hand-wrote a letter for me. But the local department of personnel said no, insisting on originals. But it was you who lost the documents, and you create all kinds of difficulties and obstacles. (They) don’t grant the status of retirement, driving the veteran to a dead end. The public denunciations during the Cultural Revolution said I am a traitor. My residence was forcibly taken as a nursery garden (by the Lingxi District Government). My son died two years ago. My younger son’s leg was crippled from working down in a coal mine. Have no source of income. The veteran has no option but to implore each and every cadre, comrade, friend to help the veteran tide over the difficulties. I believe that as long as there is the Communist rule, the ‘Three Represents’ of Jiang Zemin as the guiding principles, under President Hu Jintao’s leadership, (I) will surely have grievances redressed and see daylight again. The veteran will then surely thank everyone’s support and help. Wish every good man a safe life and good luck.

Selected comments on Sina Weibo

醉石子 Will there still be anyone who will their lives for the country? Thought-provoking. Where are the leaders’ virtue and morality?

合桃枫叶:To be honest, similar examples are too numerous to count. @夏夏左边鱼:Life of the last member of the Flying Tigers before his death is just a typical example.

比纯牛奶还纯 Their shedding blood and losing heads is a mere waste of breath. After they seized the sovereignty over rivers and mountains, they suddenly found the rivers and mountains do not belong to them at all. Those who own it are the wheeler dealers. They are just forsaken cannon fodder….How sad!

似水年华如梦 I feel the same: I don’t want to be a fengqing (angry youth). But in this country that supposedly belongs to the people, why we have no slightest feeling of being a master? Some offspring of the revolutionaries has a great deal of flesh on the body, a jumble of chaos in the brain, and a mouthful of baloney, and nevertheless sit on high seats and wield immense power. The public have to treat them with respect. But these heroes who fought at the forefront and shed blood now end up begging on the street! Who should this slap in the face go to??? What a harmonious socirty!!!

无凕 Right. Xinwen Lianbo (CCTV News Broadcast) says Chinese aid and disaster relief to *** (country) has now entered the port. The leadership of ** expressed utmost gratitude to China. Sina Weibo: Chinese veterans beg on the street. Not contradictory at all!

堅都赤娜Nika They were needed for bloodshed. Now it’s peace time. No one gives a damn to these people.

广大哥哥 Even Japanese veterans visit Yasukuni Shrines to pay respect to the war dead for show. Our veterans who defeated Japan…

This is not an isolated example of Chinese war veterans, who usually received no formal education or civilian career training prior to demobilization and therefore are armed with insufficient job skills and underappreciated by employers, living in abject poverty when no social safety net or proper preferential policy is in place. In recent years, news organizations and social media have shed light on multiple cases which underlined this problem.

1. “Then you have to go to Taiwan and ask Kuomintang to enforce the policy for you!”


90-year-old Yang Genkui fought during the World War II against Japanese invaders. Unfortunately, back then, he was fighting on behalf of Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, then the ruling party which lost the Chinese Civil War to the Communists and fled to Taiwan. This experience was an absolute anathema during the Cultural Revolution, which landed Yang in torture. Even after the Revolution ended in 1976, Yang was not provided with medical insurance or pension. He lived with his son. His entire family feed on a plot and income from being migrant workers. In 2005, when he turned to the county government of Jintang, Sichuan for financial assistance, he was told, “Then you have to go to Taiwan and find Kuomintang to enforce the policy for you.”

2. “Had I known this back then, I would have gone to Taiwan, even if I’d have to crawl all along.”

94-year-old Ying Meiyao had five brothers at the beginning. He and his four brothers all fought in the Anti-Japanese war for Kuomintang, or the Nationalist Party. Two of them were killed by the Japanese on the battlefields. One went to Taiwan after Kuomintang was defeated in 1949. One was ruthlessly tortured to death during the Cultural Revolution. Only his little brother and he have survived to this day in the mainland.

That he and his little brother once had connections with Kuomintang carries a social stigma throughout their life. No woman has been willing to marry either one of them. Ying Dezhang, their other brother in Taiwan resumed contact with them in 1983 when the martial law was about to be lifted. A veteran with honors and benefits in Taiwan, Ying Dezhang wires them two money often.

Ying Meiyao (in the middle), a veteran, and his non-beteran brother with the author of the article.

Ying Meiyao (in the middle) with his brother and the fixer for the story. A little girl lies in his bed. Ying's home becomes practically a daycare center, as farmers and vendors nearby who are too busy during the day send kids to Ying, who likes children.

Looking back at his life of hardship, frustrations and misfortunes, he said, “What’s sad about me is not that I gradually lost my sight after the concussion caused by the Japanese air raid. What’s sad about me is the endless struggle, surveillance and insult inflicted on me in Zhejiang’s rural villages that lasted decades from the Libreration Day (Jing: meaning founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949).” The end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 finally put an end to Ying’s inhuman life. “Finally, no one can slap me in the face or kick me in the butt at will. Kids no longer pelt me with rocks and soil blocks.”

He said adamantly, “Had I known this back then, I would have gone to Taiwan, even if I’d have to crawl all along.”

3. Wang Feihuang, 90-year-old veteran who picks trash and sleeps with stray cats and dogs on the street.

4. Li Yipan, who fought the Korean War, had been living in a shabby brick house and begging for a living.


5. Veterans who fought a battle with Vietnamese in 1979 protest unemployment and lack of social security

The sign reads: “(We want) Jobs
We want meals
We need to support the elderly
We need to raise children
–All laid-off and unemployed veterans who fought Laoshan Battle.”

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2 comments to “Chinese veterans lose war on poverty despite winning battles”

  1. Lloyd Evans | April 5, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    I have seen an email about this some time ago and found it troubling even then; I cannot understand why the matter continues, but then, this is life under communism – and to think that we call these “money-lenders” America’s friend. I’m sorry, for I hold nothing but contempt against all those that would hold their citizens in bondage. I can believe that had these soldiers gone to Taiwan back then that they would be leading lives of relative comfort there. The Taiwan government has a history of elevating their proud and valiant warriors with respect and kindness.

    Lloyd Evans
    823 Badge of Honor Assoc. USA

  2. Eric Paroissien | March 30, 2013 | Permalink Reply

    Chinese people sadly realize they are as selfish as other nations, maturing is abandoning dreams one by one, and how numerous the dreams about ones clan, they were the safe home of a child against the ugly outsiders.

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