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Soviet Red Army Martyrs Remembered in North China

A revamped cemetery for 44 Soviet Union soldiers re-opened Thursday in Chengde, north China's Hebei Province, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the allies' victory in World War II.


In moderate rain, nearly one hundred officials from Russian and Belorussian embassies in China, as well as Russian and Belorussian students, together with another 100 Chinese officials, students and citizens, attended the re-opening ceremony. They bowed before a monument in Chengde Cemetery for the Soviet Red Army martyrs and presented wreaths and red carnations.


The Russian ambassador to China Igor Alexeyevich Rogachev said many Soviet soldiers fought the invading Japanese army shoulder to shoulder with Chinese soldiers in China during World War II and that some lost their lives on Chinese soil. Those soldiers who died in the anti-fascism war should be remembered forever, he said.


Mayor of Chengde Jing Chunhua said, "In the past 60 years, local residents have taken good care of the cemetery, which is a symbol of the traditional friendship between the Chinese and Soviet people cemented by blood. The friendship between the Chinese and Russian people will also be handed down for generations to come."


The cemetery was first established in late 1945 to commemorate 44 Soviet soldiers who died in what was then called Rehe Province.


Rehe, with Chengde as its capital, contained parts of today's Beijing Municipality, Liaoning Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.


On Aug. 9, 1945, 1.5 million Soviet soldiers launched attacks against the Japanese army in northeastern China from three places. In partnership with the Chinese army, the Red Army wiped out the enemies in about 20 days. A total of 83,000 Japanese soldiers were killed and another 594,000 captured during the battles, while 32,000 Soviet fighters were wounded or killed.


Over the past year, the Russian Embassy in China and the Chengde government jointly raised 500,000 yuan (US$60,240) to have the cemetery refurnished.


(Xinhua News Agency May 6, 2005)


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