Chinese President Xi Jinping told two U.S. Flying Tigers veterans who fought for China in World War II that China and the U.S. “should and must achieve peaceful coexistence,” offering further guidance for both sides to ease ongoing tensions.
Responding to a letter from former pilot Harry Moyer and pilot-gunner Mel McMullen, Xi said the people of China and the United States had the same enemy in the fight against Japan and had formed a “deep” friendship, according to Chinese state media on Tuesday.
“Looking forward, China and the United States, as two major countries, bear more important responsibilities for world peace, stability and development,” Xi said.
“They should and must achieve mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.”
His call for stable and peaceful relations followed a series of meetings and talks between U.S. and Chinese officials in recent months aimed at reducing tensions and restoring channels of communication, including contact between their militaries.
The American Volunteer Group, known as the Flying Tigers, was a combat group consisting of former U.S. pilots hired by the Republic of China under the leadership of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang to fight against Japan in 1941–42.
The aviators, whose planes were known for their shark-like faces, were widely known in China for their bravery in the face of larger Japanese forces as they took to the skies from rural airstrips paved by hand by Chinese.
“At present, China-US relations are facing many difficulties and challenges,” Chinese Vice President Han Zheng told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.
“The world needs stable and healthy China-US relations,” Han said.
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