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Czech president, first lady pay respects at Nanjing memorial

By Cang Wei in Nanjing | | Updated: 2017-05-16 21:52

President Milos Zeman of the Czech Republic visited the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders on Tuesday, becoming the second sitting head of state to visit the site.

Inside the memorial hall, the president and his wife paid tribute andbowed before a memory wall to the victims. They watered the Tree of Peace at Peace Square in the hall before writing "deep regrets" in a guest book.

Zeman, who also attended China's commemorations marking the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) in 2015, said he visited the memorial hall for the same purpose.

He said that he had an obligation to memorialize the 300,000 civilians who died during the massacre, bowed to their memory and laid a wreath.

According to Chinese records, more than 300,000 people were killed in six weeks after Japanese soldiers occupied Nanjing, then the Chinese capital, on Dec 13, 1937.

Zhang Jianjun, curator of the memorial hall, said that he hopes more foreign dignitaries can visit.

"We hope that the historical facts can be known to more people, and what China went through during the World War II can be known to more people," Zhang said.

"That will help promote mutual understanding among nations and benefit the world peace," Zhang said.

In 2014, Queen of Denmark Margrethe II became the first sitting head of state to visit the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall.

In the same year, Gary Locke, the 10th US ambassador to China, visited the hall.

In 2013, Yukio Hatoyama, former Japanese prime minister from 2009 to 2010, visited the memorial hall and wrote the Chinese characters for fraternity and peace on a wall.

In 2012, former US president Jimmy Carter visited the memorial hall and wrote, "This is a wonderful testimony to the horrors of war and to the need for peace in all nations."

Former Japanese prime ministers KaifuToshiki and Tomiichi Murayama also visited the hall in 2000 and 1998, respectively.

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