Legislation protects memorial sites, heroes

Stricter stance deters defamers, pushes govt to improve maintenance of facilities

Better legal protection has helped improve the management of memorial sites dedicated to national heroes and martyrs in the past five years, according to legal experts.

Between May 1, 2018, when the Law on Protection of Heroes and Martyrs came into effect, and last year, Chinese prosecutors dealt with more than 8,000 administrative public-interest cases concerning government agencies protecting memorial sites poorly.

This helped with the renovation of 23,000 memorial sites, according to Liu Dongbin, a prosecutor from the Supreme People's Procuratorate, China's top procuratorate.

He said that prosecutors tackled 100 public-interest cases involving damage to the name, image, reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs during the period.

Under the law, defamation of heroes and martyrs or distortion and diminishing of their actions are banned. Television and radio programs, videos, movies, publishers and internet sites and users must not harm their name, image, reputation or honor.

Liu mentioned the case of a previously popular blogger who was prosecuted in 2021 in line with the law after he made posts online that distorted the deeds of soldiers who died in a border clash with Indian troops in 2020.

The blogger, who had more than 2.5 million followers on microblogging platform Sina Weibo, was later sentenced to eight months in prison by a court in Jiangsu province for harming the reputation of heroes and martyrs, as his posts had been shared over 200,000 times before he was ordered to delete them.

As the judiciary has intensified the protection of heroes and martyrs, efforts to maintain memorial sites across the country have also increased.

Data provided by the Ministry of Veterans Affairs on April 28 showed that China has 160,000 facilities and sites memorializing heroes and martyrs, with 1,600 institutes that specialize in their maintenance.

There are 300 Chinese national memorial facilities in 50 countries and regions around the world, where 110,000 heroes and martyrs have been buried, according to the ministry.

To implement the law, "we've made e-maps and brochures for domestic memorial facilities, working with other government agencies and judicial authorities to renovate them", said Li Jingxian, an official with the ministry.

"We've applied information technology such as big data, artificial intelligence and virtual reality during renovation, to improve management of facilities," he added.

Li said the ministry has also focused on maintaining memorial sites overseas, saying that nine memorial facilities in seven countries, including Laos, Myanmar and Ethiopia, have been renovated in conjunction with other departments in the past five years.