(Blogger’s note: Posted on December 11, 2013, on the blog www.tourguizhou.net by John S. Porter. Tourguizhou.net is about the lives of expats in Southwest China.)
November 7, 2013 was the Sports Day across China, with regular classes dismissed and a chance for a day off for foreign teachers. Teachers have weird days off here in China, even more than in the USA, but that is another subject. I took the opportunity to visit Forest Park, southeast of Guiyang. It is a park-like atmosphere in a forest setting. The real reason for my visit, rather than just getting fresh air on a beautiful day, was to visit the memorial tomb of Doctor Guy Courtney.
The history of China is rich. The contacts with our western democracies haven’t always been positive. In the 1800s China fought and lost two “Opium Wars” with the British Empire, the result of which was that the British East India Company got the right to sell opium freely in China, a very profitable business indeed.
Chinese courts had no jurisdiction over foreigners committing crimes in China, who had to be tried in a European appointed court. The Taiping Rebellion, with millions of Chinese killed, was also inspired by the western missionaries seeking to get a more Christian-style Chinese government. Westerners eventually were supportive of the Manchu government due to treaty concessions to Europe following the Second Opium War. After that, Europe and the west really had nothing to gain by a regime change. American and British citizen forces eventually defended the Manchu Dynasty in Shanghai, defeating the Taiping Rebellion. (See: taipingrebellion.com/, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiping_Rebellion, and www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/history/taiping-rebellion.html) .
Then the US became more active in Asia by winning the Philippines from Spain in 1899 and winning the war with Japan in WWII. The peace treaty ending WWII was challenged by Maoist China in Korea. After China’s massive losses in Korea on top of the other historical irritants, one might think that westerners would not be particularly welcomed in China. That is why I was so surprised when I saw the tomb of Dr. Courtney (see: www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/91/a3510091.shtml).
The Japanese waged biological warfare against the Chinese by trying to induce a pandemic in the population (see: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731#Canton). This apparently took place in Guiyang as well. The tombstone of Dr. Guy Courtney was established in September 1985 by the Guiyang government and reads as follows:
“This memorial is in memory of Dr. Guy Courtney, a British woman doctor who came in support of the Chinese war of resistance against Japan in 1941. Dr. Courtney died at her post in 1942 while working to prevent and cure the diseases caused by the germ warfare waged by the Japanese.
Erected by the Guiyang People’s Municipal Government September, 1985. This memorial day of the international 40th anniversary of victory over fascism.”