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China should set up a Veteran's Day

By Yuan Boyang (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-26 14:39
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During Tiger Year's spring festival, Guo Yimin didn't have a family reunion at home. The veteran of Counterattack against Vietnam in Self-Defense stayed alone at the border line between China and Vietnam in Guangxi Aidian County to fulfill a 30 years long promise to his deceased comrade-in-arms in 1979: 'Whoever survives must bring the other's bones back to homeland'.

The condition of Guo's battle companion is not the worst, at least somebody still remembers him and rushes for him. In the Korean War thousands of Chinese soldiers were even namelessly buried abroad, which casts endless grievance on their families and survived companions. And this is not the only problem of China veterans.

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The dead have long gone, while the survival must face more difficulties. For one thing, among Chinese veterans the certain group of people, poverty is a universal phenomenon. For Korean War veterans, the monthly pension from government is about 400 yuan, while Sino-Vietnamese War veterans have less than 200 yuan pension. It's below the minimum standard of living, much lower than average retirement allowance of a normal worker in a similar age.

For another, what's more miserable is that veterans have to sustain disrespect and despise of the society. As People.com.cn reported, Veteran Fu Xiqing, who lost a leg in the War of Resistance against Japan, spent his last years in Tianjin as a street cleaner; Yang Yunfeng, the warrior who was killing invaders on Lugou Bridge with broadsword, ironically became the most unwelcomed beggar at the gate of Memorial Museum of Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War.

On the other hand, Japanese veterans can get more than a hundred thousand Yen (RMB7600 yuan) monthly as "bestow". Taiwan veterans have 15,000 TWD's pension (RMB3200 yuan) every month. And the date '11.11', which was called Bachelor's Day in China, is a formal holiday specially for ex-service soldiers in United States — Veteran's Day — a day to demonstrate the great patriotism and cohesive force of the nation.

Solider used to be an honorable title in China, "the loveliest people". But nowadays most of them are not treated well. Society should not be so ungrateful when we are declaring once and once again that we'll never forget the history. Veterans of the anti-Japanese War are some 90 years old, with veterans in the Korean War at about 80 and those in Sino-Vietnamese War at 60. To give them a decent life with dignity in their later years, we have not much time.

Veteran's Day as a motion had been proposed in the National People's Congress before, but it's not resolved yet. A new session of NPC is going to start next week. China should have such a day for elder warriors, at one moment of which day we can say 'thankful for ever' and hear them reply 'never regret'. If we let the moment slip, we may lose the last chance.