Chinese President Xi Jinping and other leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the state attended a ceremony at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on Saturday morning to present flower baskets to fallen national heroes.
Veterans, family members of martyrs and representatives from all walks of life gathered at the Monument to the People’s Heroes in Tiananmen Square to mark the country’s tenth Martyrs’ Day, which falls on September 30, a day ahead of China’s National Day.
The marble monument, the foundation of which was laid on September 30, 1949, stood tall against a blue sky. Eight carvings depicting major episodes in Chinese revolutionary history since the First Opium War (1840-1842) adorn the monument’s pedestal.
At 10 a.m., all participants sang the national anthem, and thereafter paid a silent tribute to those who devoted their lives to the liberation of the Chinese people and the building of the People’s Republic of China, which was founded on October 1, 1949.
Following a patriotic song by schoolchildren in white shirts and red scarves, the uniform of the Chinese Young Pioneers, 18 honor guards laid nine baskets of flowers in front of the monument.
The baskets, with ribbons reading “Eternal Glory to the People’s Heroes,” were presented in the name of the CPC Central Committee; the National People’s Congress Standing Committee; the State Council; the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference; the Central Military Commission; non-Communist parties, the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce and patriots without party affiliations; people’s organizations and people from all walks of life; veterans, retired senior cadres and the relatives of martyrs; and Chinese Young Pioneers.
Xi and other leaders walked up to the foot of the monument, where the Chinese president straightened the red ribbons on the baskets before leading other senior officials in a walk around the monument to pay their tributes.
Schoolchildren and other participants followed them and laid bouquets of chrysanthemums at the foot of the monument.
Martyrs, as defined by the Chinese government, are “people who sacrificed their lives for national independence and prosperity, as well as the welfare of people in modern times, or after the First Opium War.”
It is estimated that China has about 20 million martyrs. Among them, many were soldiers, revolutionaries and early communist leaders. But there were also many ordinary Chinese who sacrificed their lives for the common good.
Data from the Ministry of Veterans Affairs showed that China has 160,000 facilities and sites memorializing heroes and martyrs, with 1,600 institutes specializing in their maintenance. And there are 300 Chinese national memorial facilities in 50 countries and regions across the world, where 110,000 heroes and martyrs were buried.
The country has also stepped up legal protection for the honoring of heroes and martyrs.
In 2014, the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, approved September 30 as Martyrs’ Day to commemorate those who sacrificed their lives in the pursuit of national independence and prosperity as well as the welfare of the people in modern times.
It is also one of China’s three annual national memorial days, the others being Victory Day of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression on September 3 and National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims on December 13.
The Law on the Protection of Heroes and Martyrs came into effect on May 1, 2018. And from then on to last year, Chinese prosecutors have dealt with more than 8,000 administrative public-interest cases concerning government agencies’ ineffective protection of memorial sites.
Prosecutors have also tackled 100 public-interest cases involving damage to the name, image, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs during the period.
(Cover: Chinese President Xi Jinping straightens a red ribbon on a flower basket during a ceremony presenting flower baskets to fallen national heroes to mark Martyrs’ Day in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, September 30, 2023. /Xinhua)