DHAKA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- The glorious history of People's Liberation Army (PLA) is a long saga of a protracted war of the Chinese Army against imperialist and reactionary forces, said a former chief of Bangladesh Army.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua on the occasion of the 89th anniversary of the establishment of the PLA which falls on Monday, retired Lieutenant General Mahbubur Rahman said, "PLA went through a long revolutionary process."
Rahman, who served as the Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army from May 1996 to December 1997, said PLA started as Red Army, took different names at different times and situations and different theatres of operations namely New Fourth Route Army, Eighth Route Army and finally all transformed to People's Liberation Army.
"On first of August this year, PLA of China celebrates its 89th Founding Anniversary. PLA indeed has come a long way in its arduous struggle and challenging journey since it took its bloody birth in the armed uprising led by Zhou Enlai in Nanchang, the capital city of Jiangxi province on Aug. 1 1927," said Rahman, who is also a prominent intellectual keen on Bangladesh and China relations.
"This great revolutionary army in the course of its guerilla warfare, undertook the epic Long March unprecedented in the world military history, covering a distance of twenty-five thousand Li, i.e. 12,500 kilometers, which lasted for a period more than 2 years, from October 1934 to October 1936."
Rahman, who was in China for six years from 1980 as a military attache of the Bangladesh Embassy in China, said the Red Army fought protracted guerrilla battles over a vast area about half of whole China from South to North, from East to West, from Jinggang Shan mountains to the plains of Yanan, crossing the deep primary jungles, endless marshes and swamps, narrow valleys, steep gorges and snow capped rocky mountains, fighting all through.
"The Red Army fears not the trials of the March, Holding light ten thousand crags and torrents.
The Five Ridges wind like gentle ripples
And the majestic Wumeng roll by, globules of clay.
Warm the steep cliffs lapped by the waters of Golden Sand,
Cold the iron chains spanning the Tatu River.
Minshan's thousand Li of snow joyously crossed,
The three Armies march on, each face glowing,"
He recited what the founding father of the People's Republic of China Mao Zedong wrote in a classic poem about Long March.
Rahman, who visited China at least 25 times since 1975 said this great Army, led by great commanders like Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, Chen Yi, Peng Dehuai, Nie Rongzhen, Ye Jianying, Liu Bochen, He Long and many others, fought against Japanese aggression and Chiang Kai-Shek's reactionary forces, came out victorious and liberated the country.
"Post liberation, this great Army continuously pursued highest combat excellence, struggled to consolidate the country's independence and sovereignty and always remained a bulwark of national defense as an invincible fighting machine."
China's military demonstration last year showed its commitment to the world peace," he said, adding, "China upholds world peace and plays an important role in establishing world peace."
"China believes in world solidarity, world unity and world justice," said Rahman, a living witness of China's phenomenal progresses in the last couple of decades.
He also paid tribute to the Chinese government and people.
Rahman, with in-depth historical knowledge in Chinese affairs, said PLA, true to its name, has always maintained its basic peoples' army character. It always bore in mind what Mao Zedong taught, "army is more like a fish and people are like the water in a river."
"This has been the ethos of PLA and the essence of China's civil military relationship,"said Rahman, a fluent Chinese speaker.
He said PLA never was isolated from the broad masses and always remained deeply involved in all national developments and socioeconomic activities.
"It played a dominant role in national reconstruction and infrastructure building and combating natural disasters, like floods, cyclones, tornadoes, draughts and earthquakes."
According to Mr. Rahman who first visited China as a student in 1976, PLA always enjoyed the utmost trust, confidence, love and respect of the people of China.
"It is an all pervasive force with multidimensional characters. It is a fighting force par excellence with highest combat capability and readiness. It is a productive force beyond comparison and a workforce, the colossus of which the world has not seen before."
"I recall, I had the opportunity to live in a PLA unit in a garrison very near to Beijing for a month in mid 1977. It was a part of the study curriculum, during my study in Beijing Modern Languages Institute (now university). President Ziaur Rahman, the visionary leader of Bangladesh, who believed in strong Sino-Bangla relation, sent me to China to study Chinese language for my future employment as military attache in the embassy," he recalled.
"In my outdoor study I was sent to a PLA unit, I lived in the military barracks along with the PLA junior commanders. I wore their uniform, ate, worked, played and slept with them like them."
There, Mr. Rahman said he was introduced with the great master military strategist of ancient China, Sun Tzu's epic work Art of War and was given many tactical combat lessons.
"I was taken to the firing range to learn the skills of shooting. I found PLA soldiers were most accurate on to their targets and never missed any shot. The PLA unit, I lived was fully self-sufficient to cater its logistic needs. It had its own uniform and shoe making factory, it had it's own agricultural fields to grow grains and vegetables, own farm yards to raise cattle and get meat and dairy products. The unit was even running a factory to produce medicine for local use and surplus to be sold outside."
Rahman recalled what he read his language class text books. There were many easy reading short stories, he said.
"I read stories of Dr. Norman Bethune, how the Canadian doctor travelled thousands of miles from Canada to help the Red Army, how the Canadian doctor participated in the Long March and selflessly rendered his service in treating wounded soldiers, saving their lives, many a time giving his own blood," he recalled.
"My text book also contained stories of Lei Feng, the great soldier of PLA, who dedicated his life for the service of poor people and was always available to rush in their crises and difficulties. The motto of PLA, he believed, was serving the people. Many such touching stories and their valuable lessons and my intimate stay with PLA commanders and soldiers enriched and helped me to know and understand them very closely. They all left a deep impression and influenced me in my life and I still treasure them, dearly cherish them," he shared.
Rahman also witnessed how Chinese rejoiced the fall of the Gang of Four (Jiang Qing, Zhang Chunqiao, Wang Hongwen, Yao Wenyuan) and the ending of the so called Great Cultural Revolution which caused untold sufferings to the people and brought chaos and disorder in the society.
"I saw their joys, happiness and ecstasies which were so spontaneous. I observed a deluge of flowing masses in the streets. Everybody, men, women and children, old and young was thronging in the streets, carrying big character written large banners, beating drums, blowing trumpets, ringing bells and giving full throated slogans. I never saw such a scene of human outbursts of emotions in my life. I along with all the students, teachers and staff of the Language Institute most joyfully joined the celebration."
"Now as I reminisce my good old days in China in my leisure hours at my home in Dhaka, strange spells of emotions do strike me, I feel nostalgic. It makes me immensely proud. China, I always considered my second home, I lived there in the 1970s and 1980s for more than half a decade," he said.
"About 40 years ago when I lived in China, she made a tiny footprint in global economy and political and military power. Today as I see China, I am totally amazed. China's phenomenal rise within shortest possible time (only four decades or so) is a miracle story. But miracles did happen in China. It happened because of country's correct leadership, pragmatic policies, national unity and solidarity, peace and harmony. The unifying factor and the stabilizing core element has been always PLA, the liberator, the redeemer, the most patriotic, dedicated, loyal and trusted," he said.
Rahman said Bangladesh Armed Forces received almost their entire military hardware from PLA.
"Our Armed Forces were built from the scratches by PLA's support and assistance. I, as the first military attache to China in the 1980s, am a witness, how PLA most generously supported to raise our Army, Navy and Air Force and strengthened our defense capability as we posses today."
He said the services that PLA rendered in equipping, arming and training of our total armed forces are immeasurable, he added.
He also recalled how during their meeting, former Chinese president Jiang Zemin told him: "China has changed a lot. It is not the same China which you saw when you lived here in the 1970s and 1980s. It is a changed China, developed China and it is a new generation, a new leadership."
"The world is changing. I heard Dhaka skyline has also changed. But in all these changes one thing has not changed and it will never change and that is our relationship with Bangladesh, our policy for Bangladesh," he recalled President Jiang as saying.
"I assure you General, China is your friend and will ever remain a friend. Whatever may be the situation and time, she will be always beside you. The relationship between China and Bangladesh is a relationship only of friendship, friendship and friendship and nothing but friendship," Jiang continued.
"His words still ring in my ear. I treasure them. I believe this epitomizes our two militaries and two countries true relationship," said the general.
"China has emerged as a big world power. We look forward to seeing more Chinese contributions to global peace and stability and development," he said.