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The Legendary Life of Zheng Xiangkai, a 95-Y-O Christian Anti-Japanese Veteran

The Legendary Life of Zheng Xiangkai, a 95-Y-O Christian Anti-Japanese Veteran

Zheng Xiangkai, a 95-Year-Old Christian Anti-Japanese Veteran Zheng Xiangkai, a 95-Year-Old Christian Anti-Japanese Veteran(Lin Muli)
ByLin Muli September 17, 2021
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Zheng Xiangkai, a 95-year-old Christian anti-Japanese veteran (cadre of the Fujian Health and Epidemic Prevention Station), was born into a poor peasant family in Baisha Town, Minhou County, Fujian Province on December 27, 1927. At the age of seven, his father died. The whole family of five depended on his mother. She burnt paper and worshipped Buddha all year round, but she could not change the difficult family circumstances.

Later his mother sent him to a private school in a village where he stayed in his uncle’s house. He and his cousin went to the school and studied classics such as The Great Learning and The Doctrine of the Mean. When he was eight, his family’s situation improved slightly, so his mother took him back to his hometown to study in Grade Two in a primary school. Perhaps it was the poor condition of his family that made him have great ambitions since he was a child. He was determined to be loyal to the nation, honor his parents, and study in good schools to change his family’s situation.

When Zheng was in Grade Three or Four, he got up early every day. He sold fried dough sticks along the street with a cake basket on his head. Then he went home to eat breakfast and go to school. Even so, his studying results ranked No. 1 or 2 every semester in the class.

In April 1941, the Japanese army captured Fuzhou for the first time. On the fourth day, the situation was tense, and the national army could not hold out against them. The Japanese entered the city from the north gate. Early in the morning, the local people took their children to flee. His sister took him to run with the refugees and went back to their hometown Baisha from Fuzhou through the Hongshan Bridge.

On the next day, gunfire could be heard in Baisha also. Very scared of this, the young boy saw Japanese forces burnt, killed, and raped people. All the women in Baisha, his hometown, went to hide in the mountains. No one dared to stay at home. The Japanese would leave their food everywhere so he went to pick up the leftovers and cooked them for his grandfather and two younger brothers.

In the spring of 1942, Zheng was admitted to Fuzhou No.1 Middle School, where he finished junior high school. By then Fuzhou fell for the second time. Around October 1944, the national government launched the campaign of “100,000 educated youths for the army”. In that year, there were only over 500 teachers and students in Fuzhou No.1 Middle School in Minqing and more than 300 students signed up for the army. After a physical examination, more than 30 students including Zheng were chosen.

Zheng was assigned to the Third Class of Artillery Company of the Fourth Infantry Company of the Second Battalion of the 622nd Regiment of the 208th Division of the Intellectual Youth Army. He became second-class artillery. On August 15, 1945, his troops trained in Zhongxian Town, Lichuan County, Jiangxi Province. In the middle of the night, the platoon leader blew his whistle to wake the troops up, announcing that Japan had surrendered and that they had won the Anti-Japanese War.

When Zheng’s troops were informed that they were going to take over Taiwan, he began to learn the Minnan dialect and Taiwanese customs. After leaving Fuzhou with his troops, he went north to Xing Wu, Zhejiang Province for six months of training. He then prepared for graduation and demobilization. There were three choices for demobilization, continued education, employment, or retirement. He chose education and went to Jiaxing to finish high school for three years. After graduation, tired of civil war, he decided to stop serving as a soldier and returned home. At the end of 1948, after three days and nights of tossing and suffering, he sailed from Shanghai to his hometown in Fuzhou, which had not yet been liberated.

When Zheng came home, he was in a more difficult situation. Failing to find a job, he relied on his brother to make silverware to support his family. Later, when he heard that Baisha cigarettes were easy to sell, he went to Fuzhou to wholesale cigarettes and came back to sell them. Soon, he encountered Zhang Henian, the principal of the original primary school, who asked for his consent to teach in Baisha Primary School. At the beginning of liberation, the rural land reform and fighting hegemony movement made him feel uneasy. He went to Fuzhou to find a job instead. 

One day, Zheng read in Fujian Daily that the Fujian Provincial Health Department had recruited “Training Course for Epidemic Prevention Personnel of Plague Prevention and Control Office in Southeast of East China”. He was lucky enough to be accepted. After six months of studying and training, 148 kg of rice was rationed to him every month. That amount could barely support the whole family. After a few months, he was sent to Jian’ou to set up a plague prevention and control station and then was transferred back to Fujian Health and Epidemic Prevention Station a few years later.

In 1963, Zheng, nearly 40 years old, studied hard and sat the national college entrance examination. He was admitted to the Department of Environmental Engineering, Tongji University, Shanghai, majoring in water supply and drainage engineering. After three years of study, the school was suspended during the “Cultural Revolution”. It was not until 1980 that Zheng was awarded his undergraduate diploma, and in 1992, he was awarded the title of deputy director of health technical personnel.

When the Cultural Revolution began to clean up the class ranks, Zheng was no exception. He was locked up by the rebel side of the epidemic prevention station in the bullpen of the provincial health school for isolation and introspection. At first, he was constantly criticized day and night, so he was desperate that he wanted to hang himself with a rope.

The Cultural Revolution was coming to an end, and he was sent to the brigade to farm. Soon, the old headmaster of Qingliu No.1 Middle School, who was with Zheng, was transferred to Qingliu No.3 Middle School as the headmaster. He asked him again if he wanted to teach, and this time Zheng taught chemistry there for five years. In the spring of 1977, he was transferred back to the provincial health and epidemic prevention station. He laughed at himself for “eight years of anti-Japanese war and eight years of decentralization to the countryside”. Later He was rehabilitated and reinstated as the section chief of the health and epidemic prevention station.

In October 1979, Huaxiang Church or the Flower Lane Church was the first to reopen in Fuzhou, resuming normal religious activities. Living in a nearby community, every time he went out into the street, he had to pass through the alley beside the church. Attracted by the church’s hymns and the enthusiasm of the worshippers, he began to enter the chapel. In 1980, he was baptized in Huaxiang Church and became a Christian. He said, “I am not destined to be president, but I should learn from Jesus according to the Bible’s teaching of “loving each other as one’s own”. Since then, he desired to do more things that benefitted other people for the rest of his life.

In June 1993, Zheng retired from the posistion of Chief of Health and Epidemic Prevention Station in Fujian Province. Then he founded a scientific research institute at his own expense, engaged in scientific creation and invention of water and environment, and designed two local waterworks with a daily output of 60,000 tons without charging any fees. After that, he attained four patents such as a water purifier without replacing the filter element and a water purifier that automatically eliminates the dirt in the filter layer.

In recent years, Zheng  had personally prepared water-based drugs for external use, which can effectively kill bacteria and viruses. He sent more than 5,000 bottles to churches in Fuzhou and Putian free of charge.

The old man said, “I have lived under the same roof for four generations, with six children, three boys, and three girls. They are all very kind to me. I am already a 95-year-old man, and my future is limited. The Party and the government pay me nearly 8,000 yuan a month. Volunteers who care for the Anti-Japanese War veterans during the Chinese New Year are like angels sent by God. They often come to visit and express their condolences to me. I don’t need any more money ... I have experienced all kinds of difficulties in my life, and I am satisfied with my reward at present. Everything in the world has its cause and effect. God’s arrangement is very fair. In my lifetime, I will continue to do what benefits the world and the human race.”

(This article is written by a special/freelance writer who is a Christian in Fujian and originally published by Gospel Times.)

-Translated by Charlie Li

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