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China to protect memorial sites for martyrs

By He Dan | China Daily | Updated: 2013-07-05 00:45

China will improve the maintenance of cemeteries and other memorial buildings for martyrs, including about 100 memorials overseas, the minister of civil affairs said.

More than 100 cemeteries or memorial sites for Chinese martyrs were set up in other countries, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Tanzania, to honor Chinese solders who died and were buried there, Minister Li Liguo said on Thursday.

Working with its foreign counterparts, the Chinese government will conduct research, draw plans and take comprehensive measures to protect those memorial sites, he said.

Meanwhile, China will also guarantee tombs and cemeteries for foreign martyrs will be well maintained, he added. Li made the remarks at a meeting to commemorate national martyrs in Beijing.

More than 200,000 Chinese soldiers were buried in foreign lands, said Tian Kerui, a ministry official in charge of martyr affairs.

Sun Chunlong, who founded the Shenzhen Longyue Charity Foundation, an organization that focuses on the welfare of veterans and Chinese soldiers who died fighting Japanese invaders in Myanmar during World War II, said his organization found out that most tombs for Chinese soldiers in Myanmar were destroyed in the 1960s and now only two monuments remain.

"It's very difficult for NGOs like us to go to a foreign country to help protect our martyrs' burial sites or set up monuments, so we welcome our government to do that," he said.

Wu Yuan's uncle, Wu Qizhang, died in a battle against the Japanese army in Myitkyina, Myanmar, at the age of 34 in 1944.

"I hope our government can help find my uncle's remains and bring them back, so our beloved one can rest in peace," said the 58-year-old Hangzhou resident.

"If it's impossible to claim them back, at least build memorials with solders' names carved into the walls, so families like us can visit."

There are about 20 million martyrs in China but only 1.8 million have their names recorded.

The government started a four-year project to relocate or renovate tombs and memorial sites for national martyrs in 2011. It has spent 10 billion yuan ($1.63 billion) on the project, Li said.

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