Revolutionary cemetery growing to meet cadres’ demand

Babaoshan, resting place of revolutionaries, to add niches as queue for honour in death grows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 September, 2013, 4:49am

Beijing is set to expand the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery to meet demand from party cadres and government officials.

"The expansion underscores the great demand from elderly party cadres to pursue posthumous honour," social commentator Professor Hu Xingdou , of the Beijing Institute of Technology, said.

The 10-hectare cemetery is the final resting place for party cadres, army leaders, scientists, writers, engineers, revolutionary martyrs and "international friends" of the Communist Party. Marshals including Zhu De and Peng Dehuai and President Xi Jinping's father, Xi Zhongxun , a former National People's Congress vice-chairman and vice-premier, are buried there.

A 620-metre-long corridor will be built to provide an additional 10,020 urn niches, according to a document released by the Municipal Construction Commission for public consultation.

Officials of the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery were not available for comment yesterday.

While it is common for other countries to have cemeteries honouring national military heroes, such as the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia in the US, the Revolutionary Cemetery at Babaoshan caters to a wide range of figures.

Only officials above the level of bureau head have been accommodated there since the cemetery expanded in 2006 with the addition of 3,500 niches.

Tomb prices have soared from 19,000 yuan a square metre to about 100,000 yuan in the past five years in the nearby Babaoshan People's Cemetery reserved for ordinary people.

However, an employee said the Revolutionary Cemetery offers significantly lower prices than the People's Cemetery,

"It's another privilege of Chinese officials," Hu said.

A niche is now priced at 7,000 yuan (HK$8,800) for 20 years' use, said another employee, who declined to be named. "Actually, we don't have enough places for the niches. If you register now, you will have to wait until June next year to see if there are any vacancies," she said.

Hu said: "I think the cemetery should move to the suburbs to make better use of the prime location." The cemetery is in the Shijingshan district, formerly on the outskirts of Beijing but now a prime location after rapid urban development in the past decade.

Babaoshan is not alone in having a space shortage.

With 200 million people over 60, all existing tombs and niches on the mainland will have been used within six years, a Ministry of Civil Affairs report said in March.