by Zhang Jianhua, Luo Zhengguang
XIENG KHUANG, Laos, June 9 (Xinhua) -- Amid the green palm and pine trees, representatives of Chinese and Lao governments as well as martyrs' relatives once again paid homage to Gao Yunpeng, Lyv Weihan, Li Zhixue, Gong Shuli, Fan Changyun, the five Chinese martyrs who sacrificed their lives to support Laos during wartime.
After six months of construction, a ceremony was held Wednesday to mark the completion of the upgrading project of the Chinese martyrs' cemetery in the northern Lao Xieng Khuang province.
In the 1960s and 1970s, hundreds of Chinese martyrs sacrificed their lives for a sacred internationalist mission. As many as 215 Chinese martyrs were laid to rest at three cemeteries in Lao's northern Oudomxay and Xieng Khuang provinces.
"The Chinese martyrs' cemeteries in Laos are important embodiments that pay witness to the inherited friendship between the two countries," Wang Jianjun, standing deputy director of the National Working Committee on Aging and a party committee member of China's Civil Affairs Ministry said at the ceremony.
Xieng Khuang Chinese martyrs' cemetery was built in 1996. After upgrading, the Xiengkhuang cemetery covers an area of 3,475 square meters, an expansion of 2,561 square meters. In the middle of the cemetery stands a 12-meter monument carved with the words "Chinese revolutionary martyrs in Laos stay immortal" in golden Chinese and Lao characters.
In September 2016, the governments of the two countries signed an agreement on the maintenance and upgrading of the Chinese cemeteries in Laos, marking the start of the project on cemetery renovation.
In late April 2017, the upgrading of the Chinese cemetery in Xieng Khuang was completed, while the work in Na Mor and Muang Xay cemeteries is still undergoing.
"On behalf of the Chinese embassy and counsellor in Laos, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the long-time, careful maintenance and management of the cemetery by the Lao side," Zhao Chenggang, Chargé d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Laos, said at the ceremony.
"First bow! Second bow! Third bow!" All representatives of the delegation took off their hats, performing these solemn actions to pay tribute to the martyrs.
"Rest in peace, our good comrades, good brothers! You will always live in the hearts of the peoples of both countries!" An Weiliang, a Chinese veteran who supported Laos during the wartime said with his eyes filled with tears while standing in front of Lyv Weihan's grave.
At another corner, while offering a bouquet of chrysanthemums to the grave of Gao Yunpeng, veteran Wang Jun, of the Anti-Aircraft Division of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force, said "A country cannot be without heroes. A nation cannot be without heroes. Good construction and maintenance of the Chinese martyrs' cemeteries are good ways to memorialize and take care of them."
"It is hoped that both sides will endeavor to promote the protection and management of the commemorative facilities in the Chinese martyrs' cemeteries, effectively build an immortal monument to cherish the heroes and maintain peace in the hearts of the hundreds of millions of Lao and Chinese people, as well as to set up a friendship bridge to enhance mutual understanding and cooperation between the two nations," Wang Jianjun emphasized.
Lao Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Welfare Baikham Khattiya said at the ceremony that "we have a great responsibility to make the martyrs' cemetery a historical education base, and a historical tourist destination to deepen the friendship between the two countries in the future."
The ceremony to mark the completion of the upgrading of the Chinese martyrs' cemetery in Xieng Khuang ended after more than an hour, while the ribbon with the words "Chinese revolutionary martyrs in Laos stay immortal" written on the wreath continued flying in the wind.