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China Honors Those Who Fell Fighting Foreign Powers in WWII

Floral tributes and march past honor heroes of independence at solemn ceremony in Tiananmen Sqaure

Chinese officials, veterans and thousands of ordinary citizens marked Martyrs' Day in Tiananmen Square in the capital Beijing on Tuesday, the first time the country has celebrated those who died fighting foreign powers. President Xi Jinping led the tribute as he solemnly presented floral tributes at the Monument to the People's Heroes in central Beijing.

Dark suits and army uniforms of elderly members of the crowd marked them out as the family and friends of the fallen in a nationally-televised ceremony, according to state news agency Xinhua. Amid mounting tensions with neighboring countries, Martyrs' Day is one of three new holidays announced this year as part of a renewed focus on World War II. The other two commemorate Japan's surrender and the massacre of Chinese civilians by Japanese forces in Nanjing.


- Peter Jeary

The Associated Press contributed to this report