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Fate of soldiers' remains in Myanmar under discussion

By Huang Zhiling in Chengdu and Li Yingqing in Kunming (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-09 07:53

The Chinese government has opened discussions with parties in Myanmar to help them determine how to handle the remains of soldiers from the Chinese Expeditionary Force who died fighting Japanese invaders in World War II, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar, Pan Xuesong, said on Friday.

The remark came after a plan by private parties failed to return the remains of 347 fallen soldiers for burial in Yunnan province.

On Tuesday, a motorcade of 60 people led by the Long Yue Charity, a nongovernmental foundation in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, departed Tengchong in Yunnan bound for Myitkyina in Myanmar expecting to bring back the remains more than seven decades after the soldiers died in battle.

 

Fate of soldiers' remains in Myanmar under discussion

Miao Kun, a veteran of the Chinese Expeditionary Force who fought Japanese invaders in Myanmar in World War II, and descendants of other force members are overwhelmed with emotion in Myitkyina on Thursday as the plan of returning remains of the soldiers in Myanmar to China was blocked. Wang Xiao / For China Daily

Pan said the embassy appreciates the concerns expressed by people on both sides but does not expect individuals or organizations to make arrangements for the remains unilaterally. The government hopes to help the parties reach an amicable arrangement, Pan said.

In 1942, China sent a force of 100,000 to Myanmar and India to join the Allies in the fight against Japan. Nearly half were killed or injured.

"After a trek of 24 hours to reach Myitkyina with six trucks loaded with 347 coffins, we found the house with the remains locked. Two trucks stood in front of a locked gate," said Sun Chunlong, the charity's chief.

Sun said his foundation had spent four and a half years finding the remains and had borrowed the house from the Yunnan Townsmen Association in Myitkyina, a group of overseas Chinese in Myanmar, to store them.

When negotiations between the charity and the association failed, the motorcade returned home on Thursday.

The charity said it had invited the president of the association to Shimian county in western Yunnan to discuss the burial of the remains there before the motorcade arrived at Myitkyina, and that a burial site had been agreed upon.

In a statement on Thursday, the association in Myanmar said that many overseas Chinese in Myitkyina are descendants of soldiers in the Chinese Expeditionary Force and are inspired by the bravery of the earlier generation. The group thought the remains of a small number of the fallen soldiers rather than those of all the soldiers would be taken back to China to be honorably buried, it said.

According to Ge Shuya, a Yunnan-based expert who visited Myanmar, all cemeteries of the expeditionary force in Myanmar were damaged.

"For the sake of protecting the remains, I think the best option is to return them to China," Ge said.

One reason the association has blocked the return of the remains might be that overseas Chinese in Myitkyina consider the remains their only link with their motherland, he said.

Contact the writers through huangzhiling@chinadaily.com.cn

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