In memory of unnamed war heroes

Updated: 2013-12-30 08:04

By Dong Fangyu in Beijing and Liu Ce in Shenyang (China Daily)

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In memory of unnamed war heroes
The cemetery for the Chinese People's Volunteer troops in the city of Paju in the Republic of Korea. [hang Wei / for China Daily]

'Martyr's Certificates'

Zhang said that according to the "Martyr's Certificates" the Chinese government sent to the families of the war dead, the places the soldiers fell are marked, but the locations of most of the graves are unknown. The names of the dead soldiers in Paju are also unknown.

"The families regard all these martyrs as their 'fathers'. They really hope they can join the process and witness or accompany their 'fathers' on their return journey home,' he said.

Peng Guangqian, a Beijing-based military strategist and a major general in the People's Liberation Army, said China should not simply sit back and wait for the repatriation to happen. Instead, the government should actively cooperate with the ROK and engage in the process.

Because the excavation work - including washing and drying the remains, and then placing them in coffins - is likely to take several months, details about when and where they will be interred have not yet been released. However, some experts have speculated that a war cemetery in Shenyang will house the remains.

As far as Liu is concerned the location is unimportant, what really matters is bringing the bodies back to home soil. "Anywhere is OK, as long as it's in China. The martyrs' cemetery should not just serve as a burial ground, but also as place to witness history, so later generations will never forget."

The Chinese People's Volunteers entered the conflict - known in China as The War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea - in October 1950, but it wasn't until 2010 that the death toll among CPV troops was confirmed at 183,108. The details cover both sides of a memorial wall at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Dandong.

The museum has been collecting data on CPV casualties and deaths since the late 1990s. Researchers have traveled to 2,670 counties and districts across all the provinces, regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland except the Tibet autonomous region, according to Xinhua News Agency.

Xia Wentai, an expert in Korean War studies at the Liaoning Provincial Patriotic Education Base, said that the death toll may be not exact, but it accords with the reality of the situation as viewed by Chinese military historians and veterans.