Tuesday marks the 9th National Memorial Day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre. A ceremony was held to commemorate the victims in Nanjing, the capital of east China's Jiangsu Province.
Over 3,000 representatives from all walks of life attended the ceremony held at the Memorial Hall for the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders. They include veterans, descendants of the survivors, high-ranking officials, soldiers, doctors and students.
The entire city also halted for a one-minute tribute to the victims, with sirens wailing across the sky.
Cai Qi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, addressed the ceremony.
He said we are here to commemorate the victims of the Nanjing Massacre and the martyrs and national heroes who gave their lives for the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and to remember the international warriors and friends who gave their lives to fight against the Japanese invaders alongside the Chinese people.
He also said that the ceremony expresses the lofty wish of the Chinese people to unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development.
So far, only 54 registered survivors of the Massacre are still alive. Although at an advanced age, some survivors still made it to the ceremony.
Xia Shuqin, 94, attended the ceremony on Tuesday morning. In an interview with CGTN after the ceremony, she recalled the painful memory of 1937 when Japanese troops invaded the city.
She said seven members of her family were killed. She was stabbed thrice but somehow survived the holocaust with her 4-year-old sister.
"Why can't the Japanese admit the history," she said. "I was eight back then, and I'm about to turn 94. What are the Japanese afraid of?"
She said people must love peace and unity. "We want the Japanese to acknowledge this part of history. If I live to see that day, I will be satisfied," she added.
Frank Hossack has lived in Nanjing for almost 20 years and is the chief editor of a local English magazine called The Nanjinger. His magazine tells stories of the Massacre to international communities in the city.
"Nanjing Massacre really didn't just affect the Chinese people," said Frank, who was also invited to the ceremony. "It has a ripple effect which spread throughout the world. Even today, there will be people whose grandparents have diaries or photographs from their time during this part of history. And some of that will have a connection to Nanjing."
"The worrying part is that those memories are now literally fading into dust," he said. "They're rotting away, which makes the work of the Nanjing Massacre Memorial here even more important to preserve those materials and to study them as well because that's what we're doing. We study history in order to learn from it."
In 2014, China decided to designate the day, December 13, as the National Memorial Day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.
On December 13, 1937, Japanese troops invaded the city and started one of the most barbaric episodes of WWII. In about six weeks, they killed 300,000 civilians and unarmed soldiers.