Press Review: Tomb-Sweeping Day, and Cemeteries to remember

Recent cases of avian flu are top stories on most of the Chinese press online. Xinhua (via Enorth, Tianjin) reports fourteen cases in mainland China, six of whom had died so far. Four of them died in Shanghai, among them a four-year-old child. A bulletin from Zhejiang Provincial Health Department is quoted as reporting one death today, and a 64-year-old farmer from Huzhou had died previously. Four avian flu cases had been reported from Jiangsu Province, and one from Anhui Province, according to Xinhua. The ministry of agriculture’s information office said late on Thursday that H7N9 viruses had been found during the examination of pigeons sent in by the Shanghai authorities. Much of the article’s emphasis is on prevention and control measures taken by the authorities.

Huanqiu Shibao republishes a photo from Guangzhou, (by China News Service, 中新社), with people bringing rice wine to their deceased relatives’ graves – April 4 was tomb-sweeping day.

In a more detailed article, Huanqiu Shibao mentions the forgotten graveyards and cemeteries, where few people go, be it because the places are too remote and not easy to reach, be it because of past historical taboos (历史“禁忌”).

These cemeteries lie deep in the mountains, near the Chengdu-Kunming railroad, in the mountain laps along the thousand-miles long Sino-Vietnamese border*) a long distance from the Sino-Vietnamese border, on level ground of curved mountains, in a mostly ignored corner of Chongqing’s Shapingba Park, where young members of the railroad forces, young PLA soldiers and young members of the Red Guards are buried…


The places were out of reach for many relatives, and some wouldn’t even know where their loved ones had been buried, writes Huanqiu. Denial of memory played a role, too:

We are really good at talking about successes, but often ignore the suffering behind success. We frequently discuss the wounds suffered in more than a hundred years, but tend to avoid the “stains” on history.


Self-reflection was required to avoid entering past pitfalls once again, writes Huanqiu. Obviously, moments of self-reflection should also assure the visitors to the forgotten cemetaries that the road that has been taken since was the correct path, according to the article, which seems to remain an uneasy one, not only because of the many ellipsis within.

The scenery of Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. should make [Chinese] people feel ashamed, writes Huanqiu. China had a tradition of faithful bones lying buried in the green hills [青山处处埋忠骨 – a reference to casualties of military conflicts and battles, apparently], but also one of paying attention to the great deceased.

Every life of a deceased has its proper value. Even when it is about the lives of the ignorant youths who died in the non-military struggles of the 1960s, each of their lives, on the path of this country’s history, left a bloody mark.



Let’s conserve these cemeteries, let us not leave the regrets behind, and when visiting the dead, they can unhurriedly find their way home.




*) See Doppelkopf‘s comment


» Bottom of a Dead Volcano, December 27, 2012
» June 4, 23rd Anniversary, June 4, 2012


3 Responses to “Press Review: Tomb-Sweeping Day, and Cemeteries to remember”

  1. Minor nitpick: Shouldn’t “千里中越边境一弯弯的山坳中” be something like “on the mountain passes along the thousand-mile long Sino-Vietnamese border” (i.e. not “thousand miles from the Sino-Vietnamese border”)?


  2. Yep – that makes a lot more sense!



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