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Veterans can't be forgotten: delegates

By Liu Linlin (Global Times)

09:57, March 06, 2013

Some members of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) say the government and society are neglecting the country's aging veterans who fought for the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Liu Xiao, a CPPCC member from Hunan Province, proposed that an enhanced national welfare system be established for veterans of the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45). A dozen other committee members signed the proposal that was presented at this year's session.

Liu's proposal also calls for the restoration of commemorative facilities dedicated to soldiers who lost their lives in the war. It is vital for society to commemorate the sacrifices made during the anti-Japanese war, Liu added.

According to his research, more than 20,000 veterans, 90 percent of whom are in the 90s, are still living. They are mostly from Hunan, Guangdong, Sichuan, Henan and Guizhou provinces, and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Just over half live in rural areas.

"They have limited time left and we can't postpone caring for this group," Liu, also member of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang told the Global Times, adding that showing them respect proves society honors individuals.

Many veterans in rural areas receive military pensions of less than 100 yuan ($16) per month, and 38 percent of those in urban areas have a lower standard of living than other elderly urbanites, according to Liu's proposal, which also suggests the government provide all veterans with a 500-yuan monthly subsidy.

Sun Chunlong, founder of Shenzhen Longyue Foundation, which helps Chinese WWII veterans still living in Myanmar, told the Global Times those veterans live in unbearable conditions and are rarely visited by family members.

Sun, a retired journalist, started the foundation after discovering many Chinese veterans remain in Myanmar and most have been separated from their families for at least 70 years.

Over the past five years, Sun's campaign brought more than 30 veterans living in Myanmar back to China and reunited them with long-lost kin.

Sun's foundation also provides some of the veterans with a 300-yuan monthly stipend.

"What they want from the society is very little, and the slightest recognition of their contribution gives them great happiness and satisfaction," Sun told the Global Times.

Liu's proposal estimates that about 100,000 soldiers died in Myanmar during WWII, but many of their graves on the Chinese mainland were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). "Some governments, such as Hunan Province, have already increased their efforts to restore honor to the veterans, which have given great comfort to the veterans and their families," Liu said.

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