Sino-Vietnamese War Veteran Finally Finds Friend’s Grave

From NetEase:

Photo Story: Brother, I wait for you on at the border.

In 1979, before heading to the front lines of the Counterattack Against Vietnam In Self-Defense [Sino-Vietnamese War], two new recruits made an agreement: Whoever survives must bring the other’s bones back to China. Thirty years later, as people gradually forget this war, the surviving veterans have embarked upon the difficult journey to find their comrade-in-arms’ remains.

Sino-Vietnamese War veteran Guo Yimin cries on his knees before the gravestone of his comrade-in-arms.

January 15, Guangxi Ningming, Guo Yimin faces Li Baoliang’s grave, no longer able to control his emotions, fallen on the floor crying painfully. This Counterattack Against Vietnam in Self Defense veteran had spent 30 years searching, performing a real-life version of the “Ji Jie Hao” [“Assembly“] story.

Chinese war veteran Guo Yimin holds a portrait of his old Sino-Vietnamese War buddy

December 24, Henan Jiyuan, Guo Yimin holds comrade-in-arms Li Baoliang’s funeral portrait. 1978 November, Guo Yimin and Li Baoliang entered the military, and were assigned to the same company. Both new recruits, and from the same hometown, the two of them looked after each other, their friendship gradually become thick. In 1979 March, the Counterattack Against Vietnam in Self Defense broke out, and the two brothers mutually agreed, “No matter who is sacrificed/lost on the battlefield, the one who lives on must bring the other back home”. Not long after, deputy marksman Li Baoliang, while covering the main army’s withdrawal, was injured by artillery, and unfortunately died. Only after withdrawing from the battlefield did Guo Yimin learn that Li Baoliang had been lost. Because of this promise, Li Baoliang began 30 years of searching.

Guo Yimin embracing fellow veterans and making calls searching for clues to the whereabouts of his friend's remains

Beginning in 2009, Old Guo began the search plan he had long prepared—-He hung “Searching for the remains of martyrs” banners on the streets of many cities, as well as got in contact with soldiers and comrade-in-arms who had participated in the war. Through many inquiries and searches, he finally confirmed that the body was near the border of Guangxi Aidian town. At the beginning of 2010, he embarked on his journey to Guangxi, walking down the road towards finding the remains of his comrade-in-arms. Left photo: Hunan Yueyang, at the bus station, comrade-in-arms and Guo Yimin passionately hug each other. Right photo: January 14, on the train towards Guangxi, Guo Yimin continues calling close-friends late into the night searching for clues.

To save money, Guo Yimin eats the cheapest 'zongzi' on the side of the road

January 16, Guangxi Aidian, with local prices being more expensive, Guo Yimin purchased the cheapest zongzi [he could find] on the side of the road to save on expenses, to be his lunch. To search for relevant clues, he has passed through Xuchang, Wuhan, Changsha, and other places, simultaneously working jobs and searching for people who might know what had happened at the time. And while on this journey, many ex-servicemen and border inhabitants warmly helped Old Guo, providing him clues and donations.

Guo Yimin finally finds the tombstone of his fallen comrade at a 30-year-old martyrs cemetary in Guangxi, China

January 16, Guangxi Zhilang, after climbing over many thickets, Guo Yimin found the martyrs cemetery from thirty years ago, and upon seeing that his comrade-in-arms’ gravestone had been covered in grass, Old Guo howled and wailed like a child.

Guo Yimin salutes a small memorial for his old war friend, whom he promised to bring his remains back home

January 15, Guangxi Ningming, after thirty years, Guo Yimin in a martyrs cemetery finds Li Baoliang’s gravestone for the first time. This is only Li Baoliang’s tomb, his bones are still within Vietnam. Despite the difficulties, Old Guo still wants to honor his promise and bring back his comrade-in-arms’ remains.

Guo Yimin stands meters away from the Vietnamese border, staring into the distance

January 18, Guangxi Aidian, down this small road in front of Guo Yimin’s eyes, no more than 10 meters is Vietnamese territory. However, due to various reason, Old Guo can only stand there and gaze into the distance. Luckily, in Guangxi Aidian, Guo Yimin met Old Tang who had also been in the Self-Defense Counterattack War. Old Tang’s coordinated efforts have already helped Guo Yimin work out detailed plans, with hopes of helping Guo find Li Baoliang’s remains.

Guo Yimin embraces and cries with another war veteran at the Guangxi martyrs cemetary

2010 January 15, Guangxi Ningming, Guo Yimin at the martyrs tomb coincidentally encounters Du Wenjie who after thirty years has found his older brother’s tombstone for the first time, the two brothers hugging each other and crying. According to China’s official statistics, about 7000 people were killed in action on the Chinese side during the Counterattack Against Vietnam in Self Defense. Today, the smoke of gunpowder has gradually faded from the memories of the people living on the borders. To the advancing world, they are just ordinary rank and file soldiers, but these martyrs, to their relatives and comrades-in-arms, are still their entire world.

Guo Yimin holds a handful of red dirt he dug from the border of China and Vietnam

January 16, Guangxi Aidian, Guo Yimin digs a handful of red earth on the border,  entrusting this reporter to hand it over to Li Baoliang’s family.

Comments from Tiexue:


To the heroes who have given their lives for the country, I salute! Heroes will forever live in the hearts of the people! A nation that upholds its heroes is a great people, but I hope that those of us enjoying times of peace and comfort will not forget that the heroes of yesterday gave their blood and flesh in exchange for the good fortune we have today…


One face already old, one face forever 30 years ago. A very touching comrade-in-arms friendship.


History will not forget heroes.


Thinking that the ground underneath the pretty grass near America’s dog fart independent and freedom memorial grounds, that the American devils who died for America’s dog fart principles can be buried in such nice places, such clean places, my heart is truly upset!!! Motherfucking Americans! NMLGB!


Only one thing can be said, this is too unfair to the dead veterans/soldiers.


I somewhat wanted to cry, and I thought of a line from Rambo in First Blood: “On the battlefield * * use machines worth several hundreds of dollars, but here I cannot even find a job to wash cars” [Translated Chinese. The English quote is: “Back there I could fly a gunship, I could drive a tank, I was in charge of million dollar equipment, back here I can’t even hold a job washin’ cars.”]. Looks like everything under the sky is mostly the same. Those heroes have all faded from our memories with the passage of time.


My tears are brimming in my eyes, I really want to cry.



I am man who has also been in the military. After reading this, I shed tears. This is what true comrade-in-arms friendship looks like. True brotherhood.


Simply a tragedy. I hope our motherland can pay more attention to retired veterans’ work and lives.


I will tell what I know to my child and grandchild that the this is how the People’s Republic of China came to be!!!


If veterans do not die, they will only slowly fade away in history. But if we cannot even give veterans a place to cherish/remember their comrade-in-arms, how are we supposed to face them?

Happy Chinese New Year. chinaSMACK personals.


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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