China holds national memorial ceremony for Nanjing Massacre victims

China's national flag flies at half mast ahead of the national memorial ceremony for the Nanjing Massacre victims at the Memorial Hall of the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, Dec. 13, 2021. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

NANJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhua) -- In front of the darkly-dressed crowd, China's national flag flew at half-mast as the country held its eighth national memorial ceremony Monday for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

Despite the winter chill, thousands of people who observed epidemic prevention protocols attended the ceremony in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province, with white flowers on their lapels conveying condolences.

At exactly 10:01 a.m., sirens started to blare and the city came to a halt. Drivers in the downtown area stopped their cars and honked; pedestrians paused for a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims.

Teenagers read out a declaration of peace and citizen representatives struck the Bell of Peace. White doves, symbolizing peace, were released over the square of the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders.

The Nanjing Massacre took place when Japanese troops captured the city on Dec. 13, 1937. Over six weeks, they killed more than 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers in one of the most barbaric episodes of World War II.

In 2014, China's top legislature designated Dec. 13 as the national memorial day for the victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

Eleven victims of the massacre have passed away this year, reducing the total number of registered survivors to 61.