On February 17, Chinese authorities forcefully prohibited veterans from gathering to commemorate victims of the Sino-Vietnam war. The Chinese government placed the organizers of the event under house arrest.
According to Radio Free Asia, Chinese war veterans attempted to hold a ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Sino-Vietnam war. The purpose of the event, which took place in Yantai City of Shandong Province, was to mourn the 30,000 soldiers who had died in the war. On the day of the ceremony, Chinese authorities sent hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes policemen to guard the public square where the ceremony was scheduled to take place. Police blocked the square and searched participants before turning them away.
Jiang, one of the organizers of the event, said he wondered why the authorities were so nervous about the ceremony. “We just wanted to mourn our dead battle companions and share our memories of the past,” he said. “But they just won’t let us. Some of us have been put under house arrest and many more have been barred from entering the city.”
Jiang said the organizers submitted an application to public security and civil affairs departments, but did not receive any written response.
Some pointed out that, besides a long-held aversion to public gatherings, Chinese authorities banned the event because for years veterans have been petitioning against unjust treatment.
“Many of us are unemployed,” Jiang said. “We have no job and can hardly feed ourselves. Now we are not even allowed to meet each other. I do not know what to say.”
The Sino-Vietnam war was fought in 1979 on Chinese territory near the border after Vietnam ended the reign of the China-backed Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In the 16 days of battle, the Chinese army lost 20,000 to 30,000 soldiers.
On December 30, 1999, China’s former dictator Jiang Zemin signed a border treaty with Vietnam which agreed to turnover the entire area including the battlefield to Vietnam.