The slogan "Sino-Russian friendship passes down from generation to generation" rang out in the square of Beijing Exhibition Centre on Sunday.
Echoing the grand Victory Day military parade in Moscow's Red Square, Russia, almost 400 people gathered in Beijing, joining the "Immortal Regiment" march to commemorate the 76th anniversary of the end of the Great Patriotic War.
Large number of descendants of Soviet Union and Chinese soldiers who took part in battles against Nazi Germany held up pictures of their relatives and friends during the march. They sang the well-known Russian song "Katyusha" and talked about the turbulent years and touching stories from the past.
The "Immortal Regiment" is an annual event that commemorates World War II soldiers in marches held across Russia and other countries in early May. It first took place in 2012 in Russia's Tomsk and it's dedicated to the Soviet Union's victory against the Nazis invasion in World War II (1941-45) that claimed the lives of more than 26 million Soviet citizens.
This event is close to the hearts of Russians as well as our Chinese colleagues. It's a sign of appreciation for their ancestors, for their grandfather's great grandfather's fathers, who gave their lives to achieve the victory over fascism and militarism. For us to live happily now, Dmitrii Lukiantsev, minister counselor of the Russian Embassy in China, told the Global Times.
"We (Chinese and Russian) are brothers, the fact that the Chinese soldiers fought alongside the Soviet soldiers in the Great Patriotic War, the war against the Japanese invasion in China, shows that we have common interests, common feelings, common goals, we are together," he said.
Li Doli, 85, walked in the parade with a picture of Mao Anying, the son of late leader Mao Zedong. The banner behind him read in Russian "Ivanovo International Children's Home fought in the Patriotic War."
The Ivanovo International Children's Home, about 300 kilometers east of Moscow, used to be a home for the children of revolutionaries around the world.
"I was only 5 years old when the Soviet Great Patriotic War broke out, but I witnessed many of my older brothers in children's homes in the Ivanovo, including Mao Anying, who bravely joined the Soviet Red Army and fought in the marches into Belarus, Poland and Czechoslovakia and the battle in Berlin. Their spirits always inspired us," Li told the Global Times.
"I have attended the 'Immortal Regiment' march almost every year since it started in Beijing in 2016. Last year, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the commemoration activities were canceled worldwide or went virtual. We held up the photo in front of the window of our house to commemorate this moment," Yunhong, the daughter of late Chinese Air Force Commander Liu Yalou, told the Global Times.
From 1939-41, Liu was sent to study in Frunze Military Academy in Moscow, and was commissioned as a major in the Soviet Red Army. He fought many hard battles including the Battle of Stalingrad.
"We hope that this firm, blood-bought friendship between Russia and China will be passed on forever," Ren Gongwei, whose grandfather Ren Fuchen, a commander of a Chinese regiment of the Soviet Red Army during the Russian Civil War, told the Global Times.
This is the third time Ren Gongwei has taken part in the march. This year he joined with his fellow members of the "Soviet Eagles" tracing group, which dedicated to finding the burial sites of Soviet Air Force volunteers who supported the War against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) in China.
"There is a monument of my grandfather in the Ural region of Russia. And we now hope that the Soviet soldiers will be remembered more in China as well," Ren said.
Lukiantsev said currently the effective control of the COVID-19 epidemic in China made him confident in organizing these activities to show the friendship between China and Russia.
"I have high hopes that this event will be taking place in Beijing and in other cities in China in the coming years," he said.