It is right to be mindful of history, but as this video shows, things are changing in Britain. The Ensuring We Remember Campaign has achieved a great deal, but we have not been alone in this endeavour. Other organisations have directly addressed the issue of remembrance of the Chinese Labour Corps, and not only Chinese organisations. We have many friends from various communities, and have been delighted to work with central and local government, and proud to have influenced the work of the three most important heritage organisations in the UK for the Great War: the Imperial War Museum, Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the UK National Archives. We have letters of support from both Her Majesty the Queen and the British Prime Minister, and from the very start of our campaign, we have had the support of the Department for Communities and Local Government, with the practical and personal support of the Minister for Communities, Lord Bourne. It is through Lord Bourne’s office that the Big Ideas Company’s incredible Unremembered Project is funded.
Yes, there are grounds for grievance if we want to focus on history, but from our experience of working for more than four years on this project, we can honestly say that the response of British people has been overwhelmingly positive. Chinese or not, all people of good conscience recognise that the cause to remember the Chinese labourers of the Great War is just. People recognise and agree that Britain’s promise never to forget those who took part in the Great War applies to the Chinese as to any other.
There is still a long way to go, and a very small minority will not like what we are doing, but we should build bridges wherever possible, and not mistake our friends as enemies, our supporters as opponents. It is only by together that we can achieve our longstanding hope and aspiration that the contribution of China and Chinese people in the First World War be given the due recognition they deserve.