Photo taken on Dec. 13, 2018 shows pigeons flying during the state memorial ceremony for China's National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims at the memorial hall for the massacre victims in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)
NANJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- China held a national memorial ceremony Thursday to mourn the 300,000 victims of the Nanjing Massacre committed by Japanese invaders after the fall of the Chinese capital in 1937.
The ceremony was held by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, in the city of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.
Wang Chen, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, attended and addressed the event.
He was joined by more than 8,000 people from all walks of life wearing white flowers on their lapels.
As the ceremony started at 10 a.m., they sang the national anthem and then paid silent tribute to the victims. Sirens howled over the city. On the streets, drivers parked their cars and honked; pedestrians paused and observed a moment of silence.
Eight large wreaths were presented to the memorial altar by guards of honor.
Wang said the commemoration was meant to proclaim the Chinese people's firm stance on remembering history and cherishing peace while looking into the future, and their noble aspiration for adhering to the path of peaceful development.
He said the Chinese people will rally more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, take Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guide, and unremittingly strive for a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the realization of the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
Following the speech, 81 teenagers read out a declaration of peace. Six citizen representatives struck the Bell of Peace. A total of 3,000 white doves were released to fly over the memorial square.
On Dec. 13, 1937, Japanese troops captured Nanjing, then China's capital, and began more than 40 days of slaughter. About 300,000 civilians and unarmed Chinese soldiers were brutally murdered, and over 20,000 women were raped.
The date, December 13, was designated as the "National Memorial Day for Nanjing Massacre Victims" in February 2014.