Nanjing Massacre victims honored at memorial event

China Daily| Updated: December 14, 2021 L M S

Vice-Premier Sun says ceremony is reminder to follow the path of peaceful development

A memorial ceremony was held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, on Monday to remember the 300,000 victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, who is also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that the commemoration showed the Chinese people's commitment to learning from history to create a bright future as well as the "noble aspiration" of adhering to the path of peaceful development.

While delivering a speech at the square of the Memorial Hall for the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, Sun said that China remembers all the compatriots killed by the Japanese invaders and the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country.

Under the leadership of the Party, the Chinese people have realized the first centenary goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and embarked on a new journey to build China into a great modern socialist country in all respects, Sun said. She added that China's national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability.

"It is the greatest consolation to the victims of the Nanjing Massacre, the martyrs, and all those who died during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).

"Only by understanding history correctly can we head in the right direction," said Sun, adding that China hopes to work with all peace-loving people to build a world of peace, security and common prosperity.

From 10:01 am, Nanjing had a minute to mark the occasion in different ways. Pedestrians stood in silent tribute, cars in the city center stopped and honked their horns with the sound of sirens heard in the whole city.

At grave sites across Nanjing, people also paid tribute to the victims. In the square of the memorial hall, the national flag flew at half-mast, children read a peace declaration and citizen representatives struck the Bell of Peace.

The Nanjing Massacre began on Dec 13, 1937, when Japanese troops captured the country's then capital city. Over a six-week period, more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers were killed, according to Chinese historians.

In 2014, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, designated Dec 13 as National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims.

"We held the ceremonies not to pass down hatred, but to call for peace," said Zhang Jianjun, curator of the memorial hall. From 2019 to 2021, a total of 221,939 visitors left notes in message books at the hall. The majority of notes used words like "peace", "history" and "never forget".

"We're still looking for and verifying the survivors of the massacre," Zhang said. "Not only should we speed up recording their testimonies, but also give them more care and comfort."

Eleven massacre survivors passed away this year, reducing the total number of survivors registered with the memorial hall to 61. The average age of the survivors is 91.

The survivors' testimonies have been recorded in written documents and video footage by the government. In 2015, the documents were listed by UNESCO in the Memory of the World Register.