The remains of 437 Chinese soldiers killed in the Korean war were returned yesterday, more than 60 years after an armistice ended the fighting.
A plane carrying the caskets arrived in Shenyang , following a handover ceremony with the South Korean government at the Incheon International Airport. South Korean deputy defence minister Baek Seung-joo said the gesture was aimed at fostering "an international community full of humanitarianism and trust".
In the 1950-53 Korean war, China fought on North Korea's side against UN forces led by the United States.
The return of the soldiers' remains became possible when South Korean President Park Geun-hye offered to send them back during a visit to China last June, highlighting warming ties between the former combatants.
Qin Furong, whose father died in the war, said she appreciated the move, although it was unclear if her father's remains were among those returned because many were unidentified.
"We relatives feel gratitude that they could return the bodies to our home country, and I'm glad to see the friendliness South Korea shows toward us," she said.
Ma Huaicheng, an 81-year-old veteran of the conflict who lives in Henan province, welcomed the return.
"This is a very good thing and is a very big comfort for our dead comrades-in-arms and their friends and relatives," he said.
In Seoul, Ministry of Civil Affairs representative Zou Ming thanked South Korea for its "proactive efforts and sincerity". Beijing has never given a precise number for its Korean war dead, but estimates run as high as 900,000.
The bodies were returned just ahead of the Ching Ming, or grave-sweeping festival, when families remember their dead ancestors. They are to be reburied in Shenyang.
Agence France-Presse, Associated Press