Vietnam builds memorial for soldiers who died defending islands

Thanh Nien News

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An artist's impression of the memorial. Photo courtesy of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor

Vietnam's labor union today will start work on a memorial to commemorate Vietnamese soldiers who lost their lives defending the Gac Ma (Johnson South) Reef in Vietnam's Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in 1988. 
Dang Ngoc Tung, Chairman of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labor, said the memorial will be built on an area of 2.5 hectares at a tourism area in Cam Ranh Bay of Khanh Hoa Province. 
Funding for the construction comes from donations of labor union branches across the country as well as philanthropists inside and outside Vietnam. 
The memorial is expected to finish next year. 
The Johnson South Reef is a reef in the Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in Vietnam's East Sea, also known as the South China Sea. The government repeatedly says that Vietnam has "incontestable sovereignty" over the Spratly and Paracel Islands.
China illegally occupied the reef after a skirmish on March 14, 1988 during which Chinese naval frigates fired at Vietnamese navy's transport ships and soldiers, most of them unarmed.
Sixty-four Vietnamese soldiers were killed in the battle.

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