Group sent to DPRK to honor martyrs
China recently sent a large delegation to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to hold a memorial ceremony for Chinese soldiers who died and were buried there, marking the first overseas memorial activity in the wake of a law honoring fallen heroes.
The visit by the delegation of 50, organized by the Ministry of Veteran Affairs, from Oct 24 to 29, marks the first of its kind since the ministry was established in April and the Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs took effect in May.
Li Guiguang, head of the delegation and deputy director of the department in charge of extolment and commemoration affairs of the ministry, told PLA Daily that the visit is of “great significance in terms of enhancing China-DPRK friendship and strengthening commemoration of martyrs who were laid to rest in the DPRK”.
About 2.4 million soldiers from the Chinese People’s Volunteer Army fought in the Korean War (1950-53), and 105,000 out of 197,653 martyrs were entombed in the DPRK, according to Li. After the war, China built some 2,800 martyrs’ cemeteries in the DPRK between 1953 and 1958, but the cemeteries were relocated in the 1970s.
The two countries have jointly located and inspected 67 memorial facilities in the DPRK, while four more have been located but not yet visited, he said, adding that information about some 4,000 martyrs has to be verified. Five martyrs’ cemeteries have been refurbished since 2011, with two finished this year.
Joint efforts will continue to build, protect and properly manage memorials built in honor of martyrs, he said.
Also, construction is expected to start by year’s end on a new memorial in Zambia that brings together three separate cemeteries. Li said Zambia has agreed to allocate a 2-hectare lot near the University of Zambia in Lusaka, the capital, to commemorate Chinese engineers and workers who died during foreign aid projects.
The Chinese embassy in Zambia said 36 Chinese engineers and workers on missions to help build infrastructure, including 18 who died during construction of the TanzaniaZambia Railway in the 1970s, were laid to rest in Zambia.
Another 51 Chinese who died during the railway’s construction were buried in Tanzania. One was buried at sea.
The Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs stipulates that the country will work with other countries to look for and collect the remains and historical records of heroes and martyrs, and strengthen maintenance and protection of memorial facilities abroad.
The ministry said there are 180 memorial facilities for Chinese martyrs in 27 foreign countries, including Vietnam, India, Myanmar, Russia and Tanzania.
Li said new technology will be used to present martyr memorials online so those unable to visit in person can send their wishes via virtual tools.
In addition, a collaborative system including public security and publicity authorities and telecom and cyberspace departments will crack down on derogatory behavior targeting martyrs, he said.