China welcomes back remains of martyrs killed 70 years ago in S.Korea with highest honors

By Fan Anqi (Global Times) 13:35, November 24, 2023

A Chinese Air Force Y-20 transport aircraft arrived at the Shenyang Taoxian International Airport in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on Thursday, bringing back from South Korea the remains of 25 Chinese People's Volunteers (CPV) martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea (1950-53).

As transport plane, escorted by two J-20 stealth fighter jets, slowly passed through a "water gate" formed by two jets of water shot from fire trucks on either side of the aircraft - the highest honor in the Chinese civil aviation industry.

Meanwhile, the two J-20 fighter jets flew at an extremely low altitude as a way to pay profound respect to the CPV heroes.

To welcome the heroes back home with the highest honors, more than 1,000 people from various walks of life awaited solemnly on the airport tarmac amid heavy snow, including 10 representatives of the martyrs' families.

Among those at the airport attending the welcome ceremony were 13 student representatives who came all the way from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. Some 70 years ago, more than 20 students from Hong Kong also joined the CPV and fought on the frontlines during the war.

A number of CPV veterans were also seen onsite. While all were more than 90 years old, but for many, this was their 10th time welcoming old friends back home.

"I miss them very much. They've been resting in a foreign land for 70 years, and now their motherland is taking them back with the highest honors. Now they finally get to see how strong and prosperous their country has become," one veteran soldier said.

The coffins of the martyrs were carefully arranged onboard the Y-20, before honor guards draped them with the Chinese national flag and carried them off the plane. The swirling snow fallen on the coffins evoked Chinese people's memories of these brave young men who crossed the Yalu River to fight for their motherland under adverse conditions.

"History books are too small to contain their greatness, but they are also too big for us to know their names, we only know them as 'heroes,'" one netizen posted on China's X-like Sina Weibo as they watched the livestream of the ceremony online.

"Leaving as spirited youths, you returned as martyrs. Welcome home. Come and see, is this land that you had defended with your own lives the same as the one you had in your dreams?" wrote another.

A handover ceremony was held earlier on Thursday at the Incheon International Airport in South Korea before the repatriation, attended by Chinese Vice Minister of Veterans Affairs Chang Zhengguo, Chinese Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming and South Korea's Vice Defense Minister Kim Seon-ho as well as officials with relevant ministries.

Xing covered the coffins of the martyrs with Chinese national flags, and all in attendance deeply bowed toward the coffins.

Since 2014, China and South Korea have jointly carried out the handover of the remains of the CPV martyrs for 10 consecutive years, so far transferring the remains of 938 Chinese soldiers to their motherland, Chang said.

The Chinese side appreciated the unremitting efforts made by the South Korean side, he added.

As inseparable neighbors and partners, China and South Korea face each other across the sea, Chang said, adding that in the face of profound changes unseen in a century, the two countries should uphold the original aspiration of establishing diplomatic ties, stick to the right direction of friendly cooperation and jointly push for the sustained, sound and steady development of bilateral relations.

China is willing to further strengthen communication and coordination with South Korea, deepen friendly cooperation, promote partnership in the work related to the remains of CPV martyrs, and bring more CPV martyrs back to their motherland as quickly as possible, he said.

The Y-20 has been carrying out these repatriation missions since 2020. This year marks its fourth time landing at the Shenyang airport with the remains of CPV martyrs, showcasing the utmost respect for the heroes and an ever-stronger country image, China Central Television reported.

A burial ceremony at the Shenyang Martyrs' Cemetery will be held on Friday morning, where special arrangements have been made as this year marks the 70th anniversary of victory in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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