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Chinese Commemorate Common Ancestors at Qingming Festival
Tens of thousands of Chinese from home and overseas gathered Saturday to commemorate the Yellow Emperor, the legendary ancestor of the Chinese nation, before his majestic tomb at Huangling County in Shaanxi Province, northwest China.

A grand, solemn ceremony was staged before the Yellow Emperor Temple, which covers an area of more than 11,000 square meters and where Chinese have worshipped their ancestors for hundreds of years, on Saturday, the Qingming Festival, on which Chinese traditionally remember their dead, mostly family members and relatives.

At 9:50 a.m., the sacrificial ceremony began with a 34-gun salute, representing China's 34 provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions.

Xu Jialu, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), and Luo Haocai, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) -- joined by local government officials, representatives of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and more than 1,000 overseas Chinese -- bowed and presented baskets of flowers and fruit at the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum.

The Yellow Emperor, or Huangdi, is regarded as a founder of the Chinese nation and culture. The sacrificial ceremonies started in 442 BC. The largest ceremony was held by Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), with 180,000 people present.

In 1992, the Chinese government started the largest restoration project of the Yellow Emperor Mausoleum in its history, and set up a foundation to raise money for the project.

The whole mausoleum complex covers 25 square kilometers, with a total investment of more than 330 million yuan (US$39.76 million).

Donations from both home and abroad have exceeded 88 million yuan (US$10.6 million), of which more than 12 million yuan(US$1.45 million) is from overseas Chinese.

According to the local official statistics, more than one million compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and overseas Chinese from more than 50 countries and regions have come to commemorate the Yellow Emperor in the last 10 years.

Meanwhile, at the city of Baoji, also in Shaanxi Province, a similar event was held by the local government to remember the Yan Emperor, another legendary Chinese ancestor.

According to legend, numerous tribes lived on the vast and rugged Chinese land some 5,000 years ago. Two major tribes, headed separately by the Yellow Emperor and the Yan Emperor, fought and later merged, along with other smaller tribes, into an early version of the Chinese ethnic population. The Chinese people sometimes refer to themselves as "descendants of the Yan and Yellow emperors."

(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2003)

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