Weifang, Shangdong Province, People’s Republic of China: International City of Peace

We welcome the citizens and authorities of Weifang in the Shangdong Province of China who have established their City, based on a long peace legacy as well as future intentions, as an International City of Peace.

Weifang has a profound culture and a long history, and it is rich in cultural relics resources. In recent century, the city’s cultural heritage such as the former site of the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp, Fangtze German and Japanese Building Group, the old site of British Tobacco Company, Ershilipu Railway Station, and Jiaozhou-Ji’nan Railway, have been witness to a series of cultural exchanges between China and the West as well as the development of the city’s inclusive culture. As a state protected cultural heritage site, the former site of the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp is one of the historical and cultural heritages of Weifang with significant influence. After having been heavily renovated, the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum was reopened to the public on September 3, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the End of World War II. CCTV News Broadcast, Xinhua News Agency, and other national and provincial media ran special reports on the museum, which captured people’s attention. The call of “remembering history, cherishing peace” aroused strong social response once again.

We thank Ji Shuchun and Sun Li of the Weifang Museum as the Liaisons for communication between Weifang and International Cities of Peace.

Also, please note that Liu Cheng — Board Member of Cities of Peace, Inc., a professor of history and peace studies at Nanjing University as well as UNESCO Chair of Peace Studies in China — has participated in the dedication of this historical City as a City of Peace.

Note: Introduction page with information primarily at the time of joining International Cities of Peace. For updates, please contact the liaison.

 

Peace and development are two major issues in the world today. President Xi Jinping has stated the notion of building a community with a shared future for humanity. Weifang enjoys the historical background and foundation to build an International City of Peace. We hope to build an International City of Peace, improve the protection and utilization of our historical and cultural heritages, develop the spirit of internationalism, humanitarianism, and pacifism, promote communication and mutual learning between Chinese and foreign civilizations, and build a community with a shared future for all the peoples. On the other hand, the recognition of Weifang as an International City of Peace will help the people of Weifang and around the world better appreciate the significance of peace.


VISION OF PEACE

Peace and development are the common pursuits of mankind which are reflected in the United Nations’ agenda. In September 2015, the 193 member States of the UN held a historic summit, unanimously adopting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was formally put into effect on January 1, 2016. The new Agenda aims to strengthen world peace and freedom, inviting all countries to take actions towards achieving the sustainable development goals over the next fifteen years. As one of the founding members of the United Nations, China has been active in signing, practicing and promoting the Agenda. Weifang, in accordance with its goal to establish a peace city, will aim to foster a peaceful, just, inclusive community built upon mutual respect and tolerance.

(1) Carrying forward the history of peace, and building a city with the vision of sharing and peace. Weifang boasts a long tradition of people-oriented, peaceful, and neighbors loving values, which is also a part of the Chinese culture. Weifang is a peace-loving city. The people of Weifang, Who have experienced the trauma of violence and atrocity during WWII, cherish the importance of peace. Weifang will try to carry forward the tradition of peace, making peace an essential feature of urban development. We will work tirelessly to educate the public to maintain peace as a core value, to regard it as an irreplaceable component in the city’s economic, cultural, social, educational, and international development. We will vigorously aim to create a city with the shared vision of peace and development for everyone.

(2) Developing peace studies and building a bridge for peaceful communication. Weifang has rich cultural relics of peace including the former site of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp, Fangtze German and Japanese Building Group, the old site of British Tobacco Company, Ershilipu Railway Station, and Jiaozhou-Ji’nan Railway. They have witnessed the cultural exchanges between China and the West, which, at the same time, justifies the reputation of Weifang as an inclusive society. In particular, the Weihsien Concentration Camp, set up by the Japanese army during WWII, is a symbol of cooperation and resistance against an oppressor enemy by the people from all around the world. It, therefore, helps to establish a peaceful relationship between Weifang and the rest of the world. Weifang will relentlessly promote the research on peace resources, educate people from all walks of live about a shared vision of peace, turn these cultural relics into peace education sites, and set up a bridge for peaceful communication between Weifang and the world.

(3) Highlighting the importance of cooperation and building a “peaceful world without walls”. Building a peaceful world requires joint efforts of all nations. Weifang will always adhere to values such as innovation, coordination, inclusiveness, sharing and unity. We will vigorously work to promote peace research and cooperation with a historical perspective, international vision and future-oriented view. On the one hand, we will develop our cooperation with all Chinese universities as well as scientific research institutes to further protect and integrate peace resources. On the other hand, we will establish and develop our cooperation with international peace institutions and International Cities of Peace to build a “peaceful world without boarders and walls”.


MISSION OF PEACE

Our goal is to better protect and utilize the city of Weifang’s peaceful history and cultural resources, to enhance peace research and education, expand cooperation on the matter of building a peace city, spread peace values, and propose peace initiatives. We hope our efforts will lead to establish a city of peace, comprehensively promote the city’s development in all dimensions, and promote international peace.

(1) Enhancing the protection of peace resources and helping build a City of Peace. On the basis of the traditional cultural values, peace is becoming the fundamental principle of Weifang’s development and the shared vision of all its residents. The historical and cultural heritages such as the former site of Weihsien Camp will play a crucial role in the city’s overall development plan. We will continuously improve the city and quality of life, making it more responsive and livable. We also support the city’s peace-orientated development in such aspects as policy, finance, personnel, technology, and the implementation of a comprehensive and scientific protection. Meanwhile, we will build the city’s landscape with an international vision, making Culture of Peace the city’s main, outstanding feature; we are planning to optimize the city’s structure, improve the function of Peace Square and other related institutes, design a peace-themed tourism route, and innovate local products based on culture of peace. In addition, we will try to achieve a delicate balance between culture of peace and tourism development, making it a determining force in the city’s construction.

(2) Establishing peace research institutes and promoting research on peace resources. We are planning to set up the Weihsien Concentration Camp research institutes in Weifang Museum and Weifang University, collect cultural relics, set up national and international archives, do research on prominent historical figures, and display the final results through academic essays, projects, reports, books and exhibitions.

(3) Building a peace education system which includes the people from all walks of life. For the purpose of promoting peace education, we will build a five-in-one peace education network system connecting museums, schools, government organizations, enterprises and communities, namely all the Weifang people. At first, peace education will gradually become a fundamental part of the education curriculum in all middle and primary schools in Weifang. Peace studies courses, then, will be offered in Weifang University, Weifang Medical University and all colleges; these academic institutes will subsequently develop interdisciplinary peace studies and international exchange programs. Finally, exhibitions, commemorative activities, volunteer activities, lectures on the value of peace as well as peace forums will be held during memorial days and international meetings.

(4) Enhancing multilateral cooperation for developing a City of Peace. We will renovate and improve the peace heritage museums; we will promote the cooperation with local institutes such as Weifang University, Weifang Medical University, Shandong College of Information Technology, Experts Database of Weifang Government, Weifang Foreign Affairs Office, and Weifang Museums Association. At the same time, we will strengthen the cooperation with Nanjing University, Peking University, Shandong University, Sichuan Jianchuan Museum, Nanjing Museum to promote mutual learning. We will also expand the relationships with our Sister Cities in such grounds as science and technology, education, and culture. Furthermore, in order to form a cooperative mechanism, we will hold dialogues and academic conferences and forums on the subject of Culture of Peace with Coventry University in the UK, George Mason University in the USA, Meiji Gakuin University in Japan and the University of Vechta in Germany as well as organizations such as UNESCO, IPRA, and PJSA.

(5) Building a multi-dimensional propaganda medium and spreading values of peace. Local and national television stations such as CCTV, Shandong TV, and Weifang TV, websites such as People.com, Xinhuanet.com, and Weifang Municipal Government’s website, and journals such as Chinese Cultural Relics newspaper, local newspapers, and finally social platforms such as MicroBlog and WeChat will cover the news about the Weifang historical and cultural heritage protection projects and the development of the peace city. In addition, the documentary Weihsien Camp was made and broadcast; activities were organized for the local people to watch the feature films Chariots of Fire and The Last Race tell the story of the concentration camp; the Weifang and International City of Peace series (three volumes) has been also published; the Weihsien Camp Exhibition was held in China and the WWII Exhibition has been prepared to be held in the US. Various publicity ways have been implemented to spread peaceful values, which contribute to the cultural exchanges and mutual learning between the Chinese and foreign civilizations and building a community with shared values.


Weifang Peace Square

The Weifang Peace Square, founded in 2008, is located on Peace Road, by the west bank of Bailang River, Weifang’s main river, with a total construction area of 80,000 square meters. It consists of five parts: a peace memorial square (50,000 square meters), a multi-functional riverside building area (50,000 square meters), a large downtown parking lot, a riverside cultural landscape area (100,000 square meters), and a river bottom gold corridor (134 meters long, 43 meters wide). The Peace Square demonstrates the concept of peace in the construction of Weifang, which thoroughly reflects its determination for creating an International City of Peace.


HISTORICAL LEGACY

For the Total Report on Weifang’s history and peace legacy, you can view and download the PDF (17Mb) file here:

Application Report with Photo

In 1882, the Courtyard of the Happy Way was founded in Weihsien by Robert M. Mateer, a missionary serving with the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America. Most of the buildings in the Courtyard were one-story houses at the time. The whole courtyard covered 11,000 square meters, which was divided into three parts: a church, schools, and a clinic.

Main Teaching Building (Bell Tower) of Shantung Protestant University in the Courtyard

In June 1900, the Courtyard was burned down during the Boxer Rebellion. After the rebellion, Robert M. Mateer returned to Weihsien to rebuild the Courtyard; furthermore, the clinic was expanded into a hospital. After reconstruction, the Courtyard’s area was expanded to about 13 hectares with larger, new style buildings. Priests, teachers and medical personnel, mostly from Western countries, worked there. It had not only become the headquarters of the American Presbyterian Church in Shandong, but also the center of religious and educational activities as well as medical care in Weihsien; additionally, it turned into a platform for the communication between the Chinese and Western cultures.


The Church in the Courtyard

In 1902, the Presbyterian Church in the USA and the English Baptist Missionary Society decided to merge Tengchow College and Guangde Academy; the new college, named as Shantung Protestant University, was relocated to Weihsien. It had foreign and local teachers, who were mostly graduated from Tengchow College. The university boasted the best teachers and highest quality equipment in the whole country. It offered arts, science, and engineering programs, as well as a wide range of subjects including religion, Chinese classics, maths, physics, chemistry, biology, to name a few. The university set up well-equipped physical and chemical laboratories, experimental factories, museum, and observatory. Its graduates were amongst the best in China, who would go on to make great contribution to China’s modernization.

In September of 1917, Shantung Protestant University, renamed as “Shantung Christian University” (Chinese name, “Cheeloo University”), was relocated to a new campus in Ji’nan (capital of Shandong Province). The courses offered in Shantung Christian University included science, medicine and mythology. According to its curriculum, the arts and the science programs were four years each, and the medicine program would take seven years to complete. In the heyday of Shantung Christian University, Lao She, Qian Mu, Gu Jiegang and other celebrated scholars taught there, and it was unanimously acclaimed as “the number one university in North China”.

In 1916, when the Anti-Yuan Shih-kai War spread to Weihsien, the Courtyard became a refuge for the wealthy families. After the war, these families were very grateful for their assistance. In order to show their gratitude, they made a special plaque with four Chinese characters on it, which read “Loving people, Caring neighbors”.

In the early days of the Courtyard’s hospital, only a small number of nurses were selected from the local people, whereas all the doctors were foreigners. Gradually some Chinese doctors began to work in the hospital in 1913, including Yang Xiushan, Luo Youqing, Zhang Tongxin, Zhang Xuejian, and Han Bingnan. The hospital continually improved and expanded its medical services. Records show that by 1918 the following surgical operations could be performed: cataract extraction, total eyeball extirpation, amputation, sternoctomy, breast cancer resection, esophageal stenosis dilatation, iridectomy, and mastoid sinus surgery. The hospital also opened its own nursing school. In 1925, upon the completion of the Cross Building, it had one hundred and twenty beds, a heating system, an X-ray room, testing laboratories and well-equipped operating rooms. It had turned into a large, advanced hospital in the east of Shandong.

Weihsien Concentration Camp
The Weihsien Concentration Camp, with the largest number of the allied nationals, was set up by the Japanese force during the Second World War. It is known as the “Auschwitz in the East”. It is also a symbol of cooperation and resistance against the oppressor enemy by the people from all around the world during those difficult years.

In 1941, the Pacific War broke out. In March 1942, the Japanese troops occupied Weihsien, transforming the Courtyard into a “Civil Assembly Center (i.e. concentration camp)”. They set up guard towers and electrified wire netting in the camp. More than two thousand people, including pastors, teachers, businessmen and three hundred and twenty seven children, from more than twenty countries were transferred to the camp and kept there as prisoners till the end of WWII.

Life in Weihsien Concentration Camp

In the concentration camp, the Japanese guards treated the internees in an extremely cruel way. The detainees captured by the Japanese experienced a painful ordeal, including hunger, lack of clothing and medicine, heavy labour on starvation rations and brutal discipline which sometimes ended in death. Moreover, they had no way to find out when the war would end. Being in a foreign land and losing any kind of control over their lives made their situation extremely difficult.

According to Jacqueline de Saint Hubert, a former internee, “in the camp, people were not allowed to get together and spend time with each other. When the bell rang in the evening, they were required to return to their rooms to sleep. No one was allowed to stay elsewhere. For punishment, the Japanese would put bamboo sticks underneath the nails of the detainees who broke the camp’s rules and regulations.”

“In addition to heavy labour and punishment,” Christine Talbot Sancton, a camp’s detainee recalls, “we lived in narrow, damp cells, with bugs in summers and bitter winds in winters.”

Jacqueline de Saint Hubert, a camp’s internee, talking about the hard time in the camp

There was also a large number of children in the concentration camp. They endured extreme shortage of food for a long period of time which led to their emaciation and malnutrition. In order to preserve the children healthy, the camp’s teachers would pick up the eggshells discarded by the Japanese, wash, burn and grind them into powder, and fed the children. But they were still determined and committed to study and increase their academic knowledge. That was a perfect demonstration of their determined spirit and perseverance.

Mary Taylor Previte, who later became a New Jersey Assemblywoman, was imprisoned in Weihsien Camp when she was a child. “On my birthday,” she recalled, “my teacher gave my an apple as a present. I was so moved and thankful to her.” Seemingly not a big present, but it was very precious for a 9-year-old girl who was separated from her parents and did not have enough food.

“Life in the concentration camp was really just a brutal fight for survival”, a camp survivor Meredith Helsby recalled.

  • The prisoners in the concentration camp kept looking at the birds in the sky, longing for freedom.
  • More than twenty internees, including the Olympic champion Eric Liddell, died in the camp because of malnutrition and lack of medical care.
  • “During those three years, twenty two detainees died and twenty two babies were born in the camp. I was one of them,” Valentine Fawn says. “My parents told me that during our worst time in the camp, the people of Weihsien risked their lives to bring food and medicine for the detainees. They throw them over the high walls and the electrified wires. It was a great act of compassion and kindness.” From 1942 to 1945, the Weifang people had regularly helped the imprisoned foreigners.

Guard tower and electrified wire netting in Weihsien Camp

One evening, when Han Xiang, a young man from Weihsien, placed planks on the wire netting for the second time and decided to climb over the wall to carry in some food, he was discovered by the Japanese guards. He panicked and was unfortunately electrocuted to death. The Japanese guards deliberately hung the body on the netting fence for two days as a deterrent.

On the evening of 9 June 1944, two internees escaped from the camp. They were Arthur W. Hummel Jr., a young American teacher who spoke Chinese fluently and taught in the Affiliated Boys School of the Fu Jen Catholic University in Beiping, and Laurance Tipton, a former U.K. naval officer and a sales manager at British American Tobacco in China at the time. The escape was planned by Dr. Deiss and the priest R. Jaegher, who were familiar with the local situation. Through the help of Zhang Xingtai and his son, who cleaned up the garbage in the concentration camp, they contacted the Chinese armed forces in Weihsien and informed them of the plan. While the Japanese guards left the watchtower at night to check the electric wire fencing, Tommy Wade, a very tall British electrical expert (about two meters tall), acted as a ladder to help Laurance and Arthur jumped over the Courtyard wall. After escaping from the concentration camp, they went to the station of Chinese guerrillas (the fourth column of the Jiangsu-Shandong-Henan combat zone) in Sunzheng Village, Pingdu County, Qingdao. They then wrote letters to the US and UK embassies in the city of Chongqing, which were delivered by the Chinese guerrillas. Soon after, the US Army headquarter in China allocated food and military supplies and funds, and asked them to join the Chinese guerrillas in the fight against the Japanese forces.

Arthur William Hummel Jr., Laurance Tipton, the people who assisted them to escape the camp and some other internees. From left: unknown, Arthur William Hummel Jr., Zhang Xingtai, Laurance Tipton, unknown, R. Jaegher, Liu Tengyun and Roy Tchou.

Laurance Tipton wrote a memoir Chinese Escapade in 1949. “these local people’s help touched Arthur and I deeply. We didn’t know each other before, but they did so willingly show their kindness to us, and put themselves in such a risk to help us. If the Japanese found they were covering us, they will be killed! Their calm reaction to the Japanese attack is really touching.”

From 1981 to 1985, Arthur William Hummel Jr. served as the second U.S. ambassador to China. During his tenure, he had always been committed to building a peaceful China-US relationship.Through his mediation and efforts, on August 17, 1982, China and the United States reached the August 17 Communique, which became an important basis for bilateral relations.

In August 1945, after Japan announced it would accept unconditional surrender, the Weihsien Concentration Camp’s residents began to dream being released from a long, horrible confinement. On August 17, 1945, the U.S. military aid headquarters in China sent a B-24 aeroplane carrying a rescue team, in an operation called the “Operation Duck”, to the Weihsien Concentration Camp. “On the early morning of August 17, 1945, I landed at Xi’an Airport with other team members from Kunming. At that moment, the captain announced the order of action: flying to Weihsien in Shandong Province to rescue the refugees in the concentration camp there! A total of four rescue teams were stationed at Xi’an Airport at the same time: one was to Beijing, one to Shenyang, one to Hainan Island, and one to Weihsien Concentration Camp, code-named ‘Duck’!” Wang Chenghan, one of the seven rescue team members, is the only Chinese and the only one who is still living.

After the liberation of Weihsien Camp, most of the internees returned to their homeland. They would mainly go and live in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and so on. For them, the special experience of Weifang is a lifelong memory; for the world, it is a painful history.

Currently, there are seven buildings in the former site of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp. They are telling the stories of the past to the world, calling for peace and hope.

Mary Taylor Previte visiting Wang Chenghan, and bringing him seventeen letters of thanks from other camp survivors

A note from Wang Chenghan: “Prize peace. Wish there will never be any concentration camp in the world. WWII veteran Wang Chenghan, in the age of ninety-six. 15 November, 2020.”

 


The “Victory, Friendship” monument in the Courtyard square


PEACE EDUCATION ACTIVITIES

Weifang has rich historic resources of peace, which have been well protected and utilized. By holding the activities such as “commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII”, “commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII and Liberation of Weihsien Concentration Camp”, “opening ceremony of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum”, “centennial exhibition of the Chinese laborers who went to war in Europe in WWI and opening ceremony of Fangtze Museum”, and “International Kite Festival”, Weifang has had in-depth communication with the international community in maintaining world peace. Various peace education activities have also been organized, including watching the films about Eric Liddell, establishing peace education team of Weihsien Courtyard and concentration camp, delivering peace lectures in schools, communities, institutions, enterprises, and villages. A peace-loving and history-valued environment has been created for all the people in Weifang.

Weifang Peace Education Development Process

The UNESCO is a specialised agency of the United Nations (UN) aimed at promoting world peace and security through international cooperation in education, the sciences, and culture. UNESCO’s founding mission is to advance peace, sustainable development and human rights by facilitating collaboration and dialogue among nations.

Exploring heritage resources of peace and promoting peace education.

Since 1972, when China regained its seat on UNESCO, Weifang has been exploring the historical and cultural heritage resources of peace, such as the former site of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp, Fangtze German and Japanese Building Group, the old site of British Tobacco Company, Ershilipu Railway Station, and Jiaozhou-Ji’nan Railway. In addition, it has organized peace education activities for the local citizens, tourists, and students to develop internationalism, pacifism, and anti-war ideas.

Since the start of the 21st century, Weifang, with the vision of building an International City of Peace, has organized peace education activities during the International Kite Festival, China-Japan-Korea Economic and Trade Fair, Shandong – Taiwan Economic and Trade Fair, Chinese Painting Festival, and other meetings and platforms. At the same time, in order to create a peace-loving and history-valued environment for everyone, a peace education and publicity team has been set up to carry out peace education in schools, communities, government offices, enterprises and villages.

Expanding the methods of peace education.

Through a cooperative project with universities such as Nanjing University, Beijing University, Shandong University, the city of Weifang has added peace education experts to our teams to use their up-to-date knowledge and vast experience in building an international city of peace. Moreover, we are developing peace education lectures for the local universities and citizens. Weifang University and other local universities will submit their proposals for a UNESCO Chair on Peace Studies. With all the efforts mentioned above, we hope to expand peace education practice and enhance its effects on people’s lives in Weifang.

Training Courses on Peace Studies

August 2021, Youth Academic Forum on “Prisoners of War in WWII Concentration Camps in China”;
September 2022, “Wars and the Road to Weifang Modernization” training course;
November 2023, “Weifang International Science and Peace Week” training course;


PEACE EDUCATION EVENTS

The famous British Olympic sprint champion Eric Liddell died in Weihsien Concentration Camp in 1945. He is a role model of faith, charity and love. There have been memorial activities all over the world to remember him since then. The 1982 Oscar Award-winning film, Chariots of Fire, tells Eric’s story of winning the gold medal at the 1924 Olympics. In January of 1991, his friends and those who were helped out by Eric established the Eric Liddell Foundation in Hong Kong. On July 1, 2016, the film The Last Race, about Eric Liddell’s time in the Weiheien concentration camp, was released in mainland China. The Weifang government arranged plans for the local people to watch both films so everyone would appreciate and cherish peace now more than ever.

Shadra Simare, born in Weihsien Concentration Camp, made a visit to Weifang in April, 1989 with her husband, the vice chairman of Citibank. To express their care for his birth place and the education in Weifang, they set up a scholarship in Weifang No. 2 Middle School (Kwangwen Middle School). The scholarship, which is $1,000 per year, is bestowed to the top ten students in the college entrance examination.

June 9, 1991, the unveiling ceremony of the Eric H. Liddell Sports Ground and Memorial Stone in Guangwen Middle School (the former Shantung Protestant University), Weifang.

Eric Liddell memorial stone, donated by University of Edinburgh, was engraved with inscriptions in Chinese: “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint”

The Commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the End of WWII and Weihsien Concentration Camp Liberation was held by Weifang Municipal Government on August 16 – 18, 2005 in Weifang.

The former internees and their children and families from different countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, France, Australia, and New Zealand, officials of different embassies in China, as well as the press from China and abroad, joined the event.

During the event, the unveiling ceremony of “Exhibition Hall of Weihsien Concentration Camp” was held. Flowers were laid on Eric Liddell memorial stone. The participants visited the former camp site and ran the peace bell. They also established the “Council of the Friendship Party between Weifang People and the Former Weihsien Camp Internees”. These commemorative activities played an important role in enhancing the understanding and friendship between people from China and around the world, promoting China’s opening-up and economic development. More importantly it helped to maintain world peace. At the same time, the Weihsien Concentration Camp, as the largest concentration camp during WWII in China, conveying political, cultural and historical values, is not only a historical relic or a witness of end of war, but also a bridge linking Weifang, Shandong and the rest of the world. It becomes a peace education center for the next generations.

The Commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the End of WWII and the Weihsien Concentration Camp Liberation on August of 2015. The camps survivors from the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, Norway, Belgium and other countries, with their families, returned to Weifang, their second hometown, to revisit the past together and call for world peace.

Camp survivors and their descendants making paper cranes for the calling of world peace

Hand molds memorial wall

After the liberation of the Weihsien Concentration camp, some of the surviving internees and/or their descendants returned to Weifang. The Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum made this hand-molds memorial wall as a tribute o remembrance and honoring the camp’s detainees’ sufferings and sacrifices. The Weihsien Courtyard’s history has transcended the city of Weifang or China for that matter; it has affected the people from all around the world. We hope everyone remember this history and learn from it to help build a better world filled with peace, love, mutual cooperation and friendship.

On September 3, 2020, during the 75th Anniversary of the End of WWII and the opening ceremony of the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum, the “National Demonstration Base of Patriotic Education” and “State Protected Cultural Heritage Site” were unveiled. Coming through a century of ups and downs, the Courtyard of the Happy Way ushered in a new path. Experts and scholars from Chinese Cultural Heritage Research Institute, Nanjing City Wall Protection Center, Nanjing University, Shandong University and other institutions gathered to celebrate this historical moment. The ceremony highlighted the Courtyard’s stories, enhanced its reputation in the international community, helped to raise awareness in the society and promote values such as peace and compassion, and paved the way for building an International City of Peace.

Museum opening ceremony

Liu Cheng, council member of International Peace Research Association, being interviewed by Xinhua News Agency

Weifang International Kite festival. Weifang International Kite Festival is the first large-scale international festival in China recognized by the international community. The International Kite Federation’s headquarters is also set up in Weifang. Weifang has become the communication center of kite culture in the world, known as the land of kites by people all over the world. Every year since 1984, the International Kite Festival has been held in Weifang. From April 20 to 25, participants from more than 30 countries from all around the world gathered in Weifang. On September 26, 2020, (delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic), the 37th Weifang International Kite Festival was held in a coastal kite flying field in Binhai District of Weifang. The Weifang International Kite Festival has helped to build an global communication bridge between people from all over the world to strive for peace and happiness for all the mankind.

On April 1, 1984, with the help and support of the Chairman of the Seattle Kite Association, David Checkley, the first International Kite Festival was held in Weifang. On April 1, 1988, the presidium of the Weifang International Kite Festival unanimously adopted a proposal to set Weifang as the “Kite Capital”. In the following year, during the Sixth Kite Festival, the International Kite Federation was founded by representatives from China, the USA, Japan, the UK, Italy, and twelve other countries, with the headquarters also being set in Weifang.

After 37 years of development, Weifang International Kite Festival has become an international cultural and sports event to promote international exchanges and cooperation, which is honored as “The top 10 China’s festivals with the most international influence”. On September 26, 2020, the 37th Weifang International Kite Festival was held in Binhai District of Weifang. More than 1,100 kite flyers from thirty-one provinces gathered at the festival. The festival consisted of seventeen activities, including competition, performance, exhibition, and economic trade. Kites of angel and Noah’s Ark were made to pay tribute to the medical workers and flood fighters. A peace dove kite showed Weifang people’s love and hope for world peace.

The theme of the 37th International Kite Festival is “Embrace the future world ”

In November 2019, the Courtyard of the Happy Way’s peace education team went on a tour in Shandong College of Information Technology, Weifang Vocational College, Weifang Medical University, Weifang Free Trade Zone Administrative Committee, among other academic institutions. The team gave history lectures to more than two thousand university students, three hundred international students, and government officials; these lectures aimed to educate and enhance the young people’s knowledge of history and international peace-related issues so that they could better contribute to build the future with the vision of peace.

Delivering peace lectures in Weifang Vocational College and Weifang Medical University

During the 32nd International Week of Science and Peace in China, October 7-9, 2020, the Courtyard of the Happy Way’s peace education team held “Science, peace and patriotism” themed activities, including online activities, to promote peace values. At the same time, the activities also aimed to encourage the community to fight against COVID-19 with scientific knowledge.

The 32nd International Week of Science and Peace activity: tell the stories of the Chinese atomic bomb engineer Deng Jiaxian, and call for world peace.

Shandong Transport Vocational College in the Week of Science and Peace activity
Foreign Languages School, Weifang Univeristy, in the Week of Science and Peace activity

The Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum recruit and train international volunteers for offering service to the visitors, and helped more people to acquire knowledge about history and cherish peace. International volunteers are mainly the students studying in Weifang from countries such as Russia, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, to name a few.

In 11, November 2020, the “centennial exhibition of the Chinese laborers who went to war in Europe in WWI and the opening ceremony of Fangtze Museum” was held in Weifang. The ceremony aimed to commemorate the Chinese workers who made extraordinary contributions to peace in Europe during WWI, and educate the public to remember history, value world peace, and help to establish Weifang as an International City of Peace.

On November 12, 2020, the Courtyard of the Happy Way’s peace education team went to Shandong Industrial Technician College, and delivered lecture to more than 500 students with the theme of “revisit the Courtyard’s history, bring up new hope for peace”. The students learned about the history of the Courtyard and the cooperation between the concentration camp internees and Chinese people for fighting against the invaders.

Domestic and foreign scholars of peace studies held around one hundred peace studies lectures in Chinese universities

The Weifang and International City of Peace series (three volumes) was published, and the peace studies section was set up in every major book store and public library in Weifang.


PEACE PROMOTION ACTIVITIES
The city of Weifang has used various methods and means to promote the value of peace. The documentary Weihsien Camp has been broadcast on China Central Television (CCTV). Among other activities, we can mention the academic seminars on peace studies, the Chinese-Japanese-Korean scholars’ dialogues on peace, and the peace global tour hosted by the city of Weifang. The General Bidding Plan for the Weifang International City of Peace has been submitted to the local government. Such activities have effectively expanded the peace promotion cause in Weifang and improved the social influence and popularity of the city.

The documentary Weihsien Camp has been made and broadcast on CCTV from 2008-2009 (See Total Document in PDF form).

This documentary tells the stories of foreign citizens imprisoned in the Weihsien Concentration Camp by the Japanese army during World War II. It shows the internees’ experience of living in the camp through video interviews and other materials such as photos, paintings and memoirs. The documentary includes five episodes: Going into the Unknown Years, This is My Fate, The Light in the Darkness, The Road to Freedom, and Going Out of a Field. It is not only a record of the history but also a renewed call for world peace.

Hosting Three Academic Seminars on Peace Studies

a. September 2020: “Cherish Peace, Build a Community with a Shared Future for Humanity, Bid for International City of Peace” Academic Seminar (Weifang, China). Scholars from all over the country talked about the issues of the protection, exploration, and utilization of historical and cultural heritage resources, and the construction of International City of Peace.

b. October 2021: International Academic Seminar on “Prisoners of War in WWII Concentration Camps” (Weifang, China)

c. September 2022: International Academic Seminar on “Wars and the Road of the Modernization of Weifang” (Weifang, China)


Hosting the Chinese, Japanese and Korean Peace Scholars Dialogues

September 2021: During the China-Japan-Korea Economic and Trade Fair, their corresponding peace scholars will study and promote the development of peace studies in Northeast Asia.

September 2022: During the Shandong – Taiwan Economic and Trade Fair, historians and peace studies experts will participate in Weifang – Taiwan Peace Studies Academic Forum


Global Exhibition Tour of Weifang Peace History
In order to demonstrate the influential role of Weifang on international peace, the former sites of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp for Western Residents, Fangtze Town, British Tobacco Company, and other cultural resources will be exhibited on a global tour through local exhibitions, digital exhibitions, and media publicity.

Chinese-Foreign Cooperative Organizations
Weifang is a city positively connected with the outside world. The city has a Sister City relationship with more than 20 cities and regions including Oakland, the US; Freising Area, Bavaria, France; Dieppe, France; Asti, Italy; Oryol, Russia; Vas, Hungary; Canada Bay, Australia; Henan, South Korea; and Clark, Jordan; it continuously strengthens communication and cooperation in areas such as economy, culture and education with these Sister Cities.

At the same time, Weifang has established cooperative relations with museums and peace institutions in Britain, Japan, Germany, the United States, South Korea, and other countries. Overseas cooperative universities include Coventry University in the UK, George Mason University in the USA, Meiji Gakuin University in Japan and the University of Vechta in Germany.

Our cooperative organizations include UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), IPRA (International Public Relations Association), PJSA (Peace and Justice Studies Association), NARPI (Northeast Asia Regional Peacebuilding Institute), to name a few.

Peace Exhibitions
Since the 1980s, Weifang has built a number of historical and cultural themed museums and monuments as well as a peace square including the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum, World Kite Museum of Weifang, Fangtze Town, and the old site of British Tobacco Company. Exhibitions about peace culture and Weifang history are organized in these places.


The Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum

The Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum is located in Kuiwen District of Weifang, by the south bank of Yuhe River lying between the Yuhe Road and Yuanfei Road, on the old site of the Courtyard and the camp.

The Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum

In May 2019, the Weifang Municipal Party Committee and Government made the decision to reorganize the property rights of the Courtyard, transferring the responsibility of preserving the buildings to Weifang Museum. Therefore, the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum was established. Experts from Chinese Cultural Relic Newspaper and National Museum of China participated in the renovation of the museum.

On September 16, 2019, the museum was listed as a National Demonstration Base of Patriotic Education by the Central Publicity Department, becoming the only one of its kind in Shandong Province in that year and the first one in Weifang. On 16 October 2019, it was listed as a State Protected Cultural Heritage Site by the State Council. The museum officially opened on September 3, 2020. The museum consists of seven century-old buildings, with the Cross Building as the main one. The Cross Building has two floors and a basement. Each room shows an exhibition of one theme or one story. The first floor provides a brief introduction to the Courtyard of the Happy Way, including its history as well as the functions; the second floor is the Weihsien Concentration Camp exhibition.

On November 13, 2020, five items of the Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp Museum were identified as cultural relics at national first level. They include a high speed hand knitting machine, a Dakin Brothers London iron bed, a leather bag from the period of the Republic of China used by a military director Guan Xiangying, a Moutrie piano from the end of the Qing Dynasty, and five name tags used by the internees in the Weihsien Camp. These honors promoted the research of the cultural relics.

World Kite Museum of Weifang

World Kite Museum of Weifang, located in No. 66 Xingzheng Street, Kuiwen District, Weifang, was completed and opened to the public on April 1, 1989. It is the first large-scale professional kite art museum in China, which aims to collect and display ancient and modern kites and kite-related materials. The whole museum covers an area of 13,000 square meters, with a total construction area of 8,100 square meters. The museum building is designed as a dragon headed kite. The roof ridge took the shape of a giant dragon, which is unique in China. The museum is the landmark building of “World’s Kite Capital”. There are seven exhibition halls and a multi-function hall, displaying more than 1,300 kites, as well as kite materials, photos, calligraphy works, paintings, and duplicates, from the “Luban kite” in the 5th century BC to all kinds of Chinese and foreign kites.The kite museum fully demonstrates the history and culture of kites, embodies the brilliant culture of the Chinese arts, and becomes the center of spreading and developing the kite art, and promoting international communication of peace.

The museum’s theme: “kites spread friendship and connect the world”


The former site of Fangtze Town
Fangtze Town, located in the old town of Fangtze, Weifang, was founded in the late 19th century during the German and Japanese rule. Since 1898, Germany, according to the Treaty of Jiao-Ao Concession, began to set up the railway station, build railways, mine coals and residential areas in the old town of Fangzi. The German residential areas were gradually developed with complete public service facilities around the mines and railway station. In 1914, Japan took control of Fangtze and continued to extract coal from these mines. During the Japanese occupation, more business districts, residential areas and public facilities were built, gradually forming a small industrial and mining town with complete functions around the coal mines and the railway.

Soon, Fangtze became an important commercial port of Shandong Peninsula. Now, after more than 100 years, 166 German and Japanese buildings are being preserved. Presently, the main historical area of the town of Fangtze covers 1.97 square kilometers including the diplomatic, military, political, cultural, and economic areas during the period of German and Japanese aggression. It is not only an important historical and cultural resource in Shandong province, but also a rare landscape in the recent history of China. In particular, the area inspired by German architecture is a complete “small community of Germany” with intact structures, well preserved streets and landscape. It is an international heritage, with a rich history and fascinating architecture, abounding with cultural relics.


The old site of British Tobacco Company
The former site of the British Tobacco Factory (the north factory) is located in the south of the downtown area of Weifang, to the east of Ershilipu Railway Station of the old Jiaozhou-Ji’nan Railway, covering a total area of more than 220,000 square meters, with a building area of 60,000 square meters. The planned protection area of the heritage site is 3.7 hectares, while its surrounding area is 9.2 hectares. It is the birthplace of China’s first flue-cured tobacco as well as the earliest, largest and best-preserved tobacco re-curing factory in China. It is the first place of producing American flue-cured tobacco in China. The British Tobacco Company in Weifang paved the way for other foreign tobacco companies in China and facilitated the development of China’s tobacco industry.

The buildings and tobacco processing facilities launched by Westerners in the early 20th century have been well preserved in the British Tobacco Factory. It throws light on the history of China’s modern industry and township development. The north factory well retains the original layout of flue-cured tobacco flow line, while the south factory is still in production, which demonstrates the flue-cured tobacco technology. The British Tobacco Company, therefore, is a living museum of flue-cured tobacco industry in China.

There are thirty seven existing buildings on the former site of the British Tobacco Company including two Western-style houses, a finance office building, two tobacco storerooms, a tobacco redrying workshop, sixteen warehouses, and fifteen outdoor tobacco storage bases. Over a hundred old files are preserved. The underground tunnel is six kilometers.


LETTER OF INTENT


LIAISONS FOR WEIFANG: INTERNATIONAL CITY OF PEACE

Introduction to the Teams and the Directors

Management Team
The Weifang Municipal Party Committee and the Weifang Government have established the Weifang City of Peace management team, which shall be responsible for preparing and coordinating the International City of Peace application procedure, organizing and supervising the in-depth exploration of Weifang culture, and resolving any issues in the process. The management team consists of vice mayor Ma Qingmin serving as the director, and Ge Xiaodong, Tian Suying and Ji Shuchun serving as the deputy directors.

Directors of Research Team
Liu Cheng, born in 1964, Ph.D in history, is the holder of UNESCO Chair on Peace Studies in Nanjing University, Professor of History Department, doctoral supervisor, the director of Peace Studies Institute, the director of Britain and British Commonwealth Studies Institute, a council member of International Peace Research Association, a member of the Executive Committee of Northeast Asia Peace Building Institute, and a council member of International Cities of Peace. He is a science and technology pioneer of Jiangsu Provincial Government “333 high-level Training Project” and a member of the “New Century Brainpower Support Program” of Education Ministry of China. Liu Cheng specializes in English history and peace studies. He has published ten books, translated five books, worked on two series as editor-in-chief, and published more than ninety theses in Chinese and foreign languages. He has managed four national-level social science projects and two social science projects of Education Ministry, and his achievements have won many national and provincial awards.

Ji Shuchun, born in 1961, is the curator and researcher at Weifang Museum. His articles have been published in China Culture Daily, China Cultural Relics Daily, Dazhong Daily and other newspapers. He has arranged many exhibitions on subjects such as “Remembering History, Cherishing Peace and Creating Future — Special Exhibition of Weihsien Courtyard of the Happy Way and Concentration Camp”. Weifang Museum has reached agreements with the Museum of Chinese in Washington D.C. to launch a global exhibition after the epidemic. Over the years, he has actively participated in conducting the “Weifang International Science and Peace Week”, Weifang Peace Declaration, and other thematic educational activities; Ji Shuchun has long been committed to introduce and promote the Weifang culture of peace around the world.


CONTACT INFORMATION

To contact or support this initiative:


Ji Shuchun
Address: Weifang Museum, Weifang 261041, Shandong, China
Email: zgjsc9999@163.com

Liu Cheng
Address: School of History, Nanjing University, Najing 210023, China
Email: liucheng@nju.edu.cn

Sun Li
Address: Weifang Museum, Weifang 261041, Shandong, China
Email: 1147108348@qq.com

 


Official map endorsed by the government of the People’s Republic of China

ABOUT WEIFANG, SHANDONG, CHINA 

Weifang, formerly known as Weihsien, is located in the central part of Shandong Peninsula. With a total area of 15,859 square kilometers and a population of nearly 10 million, Weifang is the World’s Kite Capital, China’s Painting Capital, China’s Ancient Inscription Capital, National Model City of Modern Civilization, National Model City of Environmental Protection, National Health City, National Landscape Garden City, China’s Tourism City, and China’s Happiest City.

Weifeng People’s Square

It also won the China Human Settlements and Environment Award. Its economy, education, culture, and urban structures measure up to that of big cities in China.

Weifang Kite Square

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