Vietnam to start work on monument to fallen Truong Sa combatants this year

A foundation stone laying ceremony of a memorial park for 64 Vietnamese naval soldiers who were killed in a 1988 battle against Chinese invaders on Gac Ma (Johnson South Reef) of Vietnam’s Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelago in the East Vietnam Sea will take place on Friday.

The ceremony will be organized in Cam Lam District in the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, Dang Ngoc Tung, president of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor (VGCL), who is also a member of the Central Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, said on Wednesday.

After the ceremony, the official construction of the park will kick off within this year and is expected to be completed in 2016, Tung said.

The construction will be funded by contributions from trade unions, workers, people and agencies nationwide, as well as from donations of Vietnamese communities in foreign countries, Tung said.

After launching a contest in July 2014 to find the best design for the park, the organizers, including the VGCL, the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, and the Central Committee of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, have selected two designs that will be combined to create a masterplan for the monument.

The two chosen designs are titled “Hành trình khát vọng” (Journey of Aspiration), created by the Architectural Research Center under the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Architecture, and “Những người nằm lại phía chân trời” (Those Falling on the Horizon), whose creator is Ly Thi Lieu, at Oanh Vu Fine Arts and Photography Co. Ltd., Tung said.

On the occasion of the foundation stone laying ceremony, the VGCL will call on every laborer nationwide to donate a piece of brick, valued at VND20,000 (US$0.94), or send a text message saying “GM” to the number 1407 as a contribution to the building of the park.

The park for the fallen combatants on Gac Ma is aimed at commemorating the sons of the fatherland who sacrificed their lives in the East Vietnam Sea for the protection of our sovereignty,’ Tung said.

In its media release for the Friday ceremony, the VGCL said the Chinese army on March 14, 1988 used force to occupy Gac Ma Island, which belongs to Vietnam.

Vietnamese naval forces bravely fought against the invaders to protect the island and suffered great loss of life.

During the battle, three Vietnamese ships were set on fire and sunk, three Vietnamese combatants died, eleven soldiers were injured and 70 others went missing, the media note said.

China later returned to Vietnam 10 prisoners of war, while 64 other Vietnamese naval soldiers remained missing and were considered as having perished in the battle, the VGCL said in the note.

Twenty-seven years has passed since the battle, and the Vietnamese people have always remembered the soldiers who sacrified themselves in the combat to safeguard the fatherland, the note said.

Over the past many years, the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly affirmed that Vietnam has sufficient legal foundation and historical evidence to prove its sovereignty over both the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa (Paracel) archipelagos in the East Vietnam Sea.

Truong Sa is administered by Khanh Hoa Province while Hoang Sa is an island district under the administration of the central Vietnamese city of Da Nang.


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