WASHINGTON, May 7 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Defense Minister Liang Guanglie, who is visiting the United States, on Monday met with representatives of the "Flying Tigers" and their families, noting that China will never forget those who have offered their help.
Liang met with "Flying Tigers" veteran J. V. "Jay" Vinyard and Nell Calloway, granddaughter of "Flying Tigers" commander General Claire Lee Chennault. He said the Chinese and American people share a long history of friendly ties, citing the battles fought by the "Flying Tigers" alongside the Chinese people against Japanese aggressors as an example.
Recalling the efforts made by the "Flying Tigers" during the war, Liang said the Chinese people will never forget those who have offered help. The "Flying Tigers" and the Hump, an air transport route flown by the U.S. aviators, are household names in China, said the defense minister, noting that China has built memorials to the efforts in Kunming and Chongqing.
Liang said his visit aims to implement the consensus Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama reached on building a cooperative partnership of mutual respect and benefit, and push forward the development of bilateral and military ties in a healthy and stable way.
He noted that a positive relationship between the two countries requires efforts made by the two peoples, voicing hope that the Chinese and American people will work hand in hand to enhance such a relationship.
Calloway said she appreciates how much the Chinese people appreciate the history of the "Flying Tigers," and she believes that history bears a special importance to the current world. Vinyard expressed belief that the relationship between the two countries will prosper.
Before wrapping up his visit on May 10, Liang will meet U.S. state and military leaders, and hold a joint press conference with his U.S. counterpart Leon Panetta after talks, the Chinese Defense Ministry announced earlier.
Liang's itinerary also includes tours of the U.S. Southern Command, Fort Benning of the U.S. Army, Naval Base San Diego, the 4th Fighter Wing of U.S. Air Force, II Marine Expeditionary Force of U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Military Academy at West Point, according to the Chinese Defense Ministry.