A Hero to Remember, A Monument to Eternity-- Ambassador Sun Weidong's Speech at the Online Symposium of the 110th Birth Anniversary of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis
2020-10-14 20:46

(Oct 13,2020, 3:30PM)

Shri Kant Kotnis, cousin of Dr. Kotnis,

Dr. Inderjit Singh, Director of Dr. Kotnis Acupuncture Health and Education Center,

Mr. Rajendra Jadhav, Chairman of Dr. Kotnis Memorial Committee in Mumbai,

Dr. Bhaskaran and other dear friends from India-China Friendship Association,

Prof. Deepak, Director of Center of Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University

Madam Lin Yi, Vice President of Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries,

Mr. Wang Lizhong, Director General of the Foreign Affairs Office of Hebei Province,

Mr. Kang Mengwei, Political Commissar of Bethune International Peace Hospital,

Mr. Zhang Wansheng, Party Secretary of the Second Affiliated Hospital of Hebei Medical University (Kedihua China-India Friendship Hospital),


Good afternoon! It's a great honor to join you today to commemorate the 110th birth anniversary of Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis, a great internationalist warrior. Dr. Kotnis is an outstanding representative of the Indian people and a monument to China-India friendship. He gave his precious life for the World Anti-Fascist War and the cause of China-India friendship. We will always remember him.

Over 80 years ago, the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out in an all-round way. East China and North China fell to occupation. The Communist Party of China led the Eighth Route Army, the New Fourth Army and other armed forces to go deeply behind the enemy lines, to mobilize the masses extensively, engage in guerrilla warfare, and establish people's local regime, dealing heavy blows to the aggressors. The war entered the stage of strategic stalemate.

In September 1938, Dr. Kotnis, only 28 years old, with four other Indian doctors Atal, Cholkar, Basu and Mukerjee, formed the Indian Medical Mission Team and resolutely went to China to support the just cause of the Chinese people. During his time in China, Dr. Kotnis had been always working on the front line. He was the first president of Bethune International Peace Hospital, and saved countless lives with superb medical skills. He also trained a group of skilled Chinese medical staffs, making significant contributions to the victory of the war.

Dr. Kotnis became ill after a long period of work in harsh environment and subsequently passed away at the age of 32 in Tang County, Hebei Province on December 9, 1942. The Chinese people were deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Kotnis. Chairman Mao Zedong personally wrote the condolence couplet: "An Indian friend, Dr. Dwarkanath Kotnis came to China to assist the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. He worked in Yan'an and North China for five years, treated the wounded. He died of fatigue and illness. The whole army has lost a helping hand and the nation has lost a friend. The internationalism of Dr. Kotnis shall never be forgotten." This couplet is still stored at Solapur, the hometown of Dr. Kotnis.

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, successive party and state leaders of China met and consoled the relatives of Dr. Kotnis during their visits to India. On September 19, 2014, President Xi Jinping met in New Delhi with representatives of friendly Indian people and groups and conferred the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence Friendship Award in recognition of their long-term commitment to the cause of China-India friendship. Among them was the younger sister of Dr. Kotnis, Manorama Kotnis at the age of 93 years. She came all the way from Mumbai in her wheelchair to attend this event. She expressed that Kotnis's family would continuously carry forward the Kotnis Spirit and endeavor to make further contributions to the cause of India-China friendship.

On September 3 this year, the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission held a symposium to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-fascist war. In his important speech, President Xi Jinping pointed out that the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression is a great victory for the Chinese people, anti-fascist allies and people around the world who fought shoulder-to-shoulder. The Chinese people will never forget the precious assistance and support provided by various anti-fascist forces such as peace-loving and justice-loving countries and people, international organizations in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Canadian doctor Norman Bethune and Indian doctor Kotnis came to China from thousands of miles away to save lives. Their touching stories and noble character will always be remembered in the hearts of the Chinese people!


During my first posting in India a decade ago, I had the privilege to visit the family of Dr. Kotnis in Mumbai. Mrs. Manorama Kotnis warmly received me in spite of her old age. We recalled the life of Dr. Kotnis together, reviewed the history of friendly exchanges between our two countries, and talked about the future of China-India friendship. This intimate scene often recurs to my mind till today.

Although human life is limited, the noble character and great spirit will last forever. Dr. Kotnis is exemplary in this respect.

It is a spirit of humanitarianism for rescuing the dying and healing the wounded. Dr. Kotnis completely dedicated himself to his work and the people. He worked nearly 20 hours a day under extremely difficult conditions and in extreme shortage of medicines. In 1941, he personally performed more than 450 surgeries, pulling countless people back from death. In order to communicate with the wounded and his Chinese colleagues, he studied diligently Chinese culture and language. After three years in China, he was able to speak fluent Chinese. He shared joys and sorrows with the soldiers and civilians of the liberated areas, and was deeply respected by Chinese people.

It is a spirit of heroism with no fear of sacrifice. Dr. Kotnis, along with the medical team from India, went through untold hardships and traveled thousands of miles to Yan'an. After he learned of his father passing away in India, Dr. Kotnis endured great grief and continued marching to the battlefield without hesitation. Regardless of his safety, he voluntarily demanded to go to the front line. He risked his life to cross the enemy's blockade many times, and insisted on bringing the operating table to the front line, leaving his own life and death behind.

It is a noble spirit of internationalism. Dr. Kotnis said, Chinese people's victory against imperialism is also the victory of the Indian people. With a strong sense of justice against oppression, he selflessly supported the liberation of the Chinese people. He became a symbol of the two great nations joining hands to resist foreign aggression and colonialism, and pursue national independence and freedom. He dedicated his life to the noble cause of peace, solidarity and progress for mankind!


Today we are commemorating Dr. Kotnis to not only honor his deeds, but also carry forward his spirit and promote the China-India friendship.

Here, I'd like to thank Mr. Kant Kotnis. At the age of 97, you are willingly without hesitation to accept the invitation and participate in this event. I am deeply touched. You have lived with Dr. Kotnis and witnessed the development of China-India relations. As staunch defender of China-India friendship, your family has been committed to promoting the development of bilateral relations from generation to generation.

I'd like to thank Dr. Kotnis Memorial Committee in India and Dr. Kotnis Memorial Hall in China. You are on the land where Dr. Kotnis lived and fought. For decades, you have been actively telling touching stories and promoting noble spirit of Dr. Kotnis, and constantly inspiring those who support China-India friendship to move forward.

I'd like to thank Dr. Kotnis Acupuncture Health and Education Center, Indian Acupuncture Association, Dr. Bethune International Peace Hospital and the Second Affiliated Hospital of Hebei Medical University. You carry on the legacy of Dr. Kotnis, work tirelessly to help the sick, and promote medical cooperation and exchanges between the two countries. You are building a golden bridge for China-India friendship.

I'd also like to thank my old friends from the India-China Friendship Association and the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Over the past 70 years, regardless of the changing situation, you have always been committed to promoting friendly exchanges between China and India. You have organized China-India joint medical team and called on our young people to inherit the spirit of Dr. Kotnis and carry forward China-India traditional friendship. You've made great contribution to the cultural and people-to-people exchanges between our two countries.


Over 70 years ago, China and India helped and supported each other in the struggle for national liberation and independence and forged deep friendship. Today, the two countries are facing the common task of achieving economic and social development and improving people's livelihood. We need to enhance mutual trust and strengthen cooperation more than ever to write a new chapter in China-India friendship.

Recently, the bilateral relations have encountered some difficulties and challenges. As two major neighboring countries, it is normal to have differences. We need to put differences in an appropriate place in bilateral relations, properly manage and resolve them through dialogue and consultation and not allow differences to become disputes. The exchanges and mutual learning between the two civilizations of China and India have a profound accumulation of more than 2,000 years. The common interests of the two countries far outweigh the frictions and differences. I believe that with the joint efforts of both sides, we have the wisdom and ability to overcome difficulties and bring bilateral relations back on track to forge ahead.

At present, all countries in the world are faced with severe challenges posed by COVID-19. No one is immune to this public health crisis. As the only two major developing countries with a population of over 1 billion, China and India need to strengthen cooperation and tide over current difficulties together. It is of great significance in the global fight against the pandemic. In the past few months, we have witnessed the exchanges of diagnosis and treatment experience between Chinese and Indian medical institutions, the donation of medical supplies by companies and friendly organizations, and videos recorded by young people and film stars of the two countries to cheer each other on. The spirit of Dr. Kotnis has been carried forward by concrete actions and been given a new connotation of the times.


This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India and the "Year of China-India Cultural and People-to-People Exchange". When we cherish the memory of the martyrs, all kinds of emotions swell up in our hearts. While looking ahead, we are fully aware of the responsibilities on our shoulders. We should build on the legacy of Dr. Kotnis, follow the guidance of the important consensus reached by our leaders, act in line with the trend of the times, enhance mutual trust, focus on practical cooperation in all fields and inject positive energy into China-India relations. I firmly believe that with our joint efforts, the noble cause started by Dr. Kotnis will be carried forward and the friendship between Chinese and Indian people will be evergreen like a pine tree!

Thank you.

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