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China Voice: KMT veterans deserve fair treatment


19:04, July 05, 2013

BEIJING, July 5 (Xinhua) -- A recent statement from the Ministry of Civil Affairs has highlighted the plight of Kuomintang (KMT) veterans who live on the Chinese mainland.

The ministry said Wednesday that the mainland will guarantee social welfare for former KMT soldiers who fought Japanese invaders some seven decades ago.

The fate of these soldiers, who are now in their late eighties and nineties, has long remained vague.

They served the country in a long and bitter war against a well-armed Japanese army that invaded parts of China from 1937 to 1945.

But because the KMT lost a civil war with the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the years to follow, the blood they shed was not properly acknowledged.

The KMT fled to Taiwan in 1949 after losing the war. Several decades of confrontation between the Chinese mainland and the island followed, leaving KMT veterans living on the mainland in a difficult situation.

Years after 1949, many KMT veterans who fought the Japanese have yet to be honored as heroes, as their counterparts in the CPC have been.

The government has made some arrangements for them. KMT veterans who were injured or disabled in the war enjoy the same treatment as other servicemen and those who were released from the service after the war also receive state assistance.

But many have not actually benefited from these policies, as local governments tend to downplay the importance of such policies without clear direction from the central government.

Things began to improve in 2005, when former President Hu Jintao recognized the role of the KMT in fighting the Japanese when marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the invasion.

The statement was followed by a meeting between Hu and former KMT Chairman Lien Chan in April 2005.

Relations across the Taiwan Strait have progressed notably since 2008 and the problems faced by KMT veterans have attracted more attention.

The ministry's statement has been seen by veterans and their families, as well as the volunteers who help them, as a positive and encouraging gesture.

The ministry has encouraged local governments, as well as the public, to show greater concern for veterans' welfare.

Volunteers who aid the veterans said the issue is not only about pensions and medical service, but also the nation's recognition of what the veterans contributed.

It is the country's responsibility to take care of those who go to war for it. It is also the government's duty to guarantee proper social security for the elderly, no matter what their personal history may be.

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