French city applies to add Nolette Chinese Cemetery as World Heritage
The local government of Noyelles-sur-Mer, a city in northern France, has applied for listing the Nolette Chinese Cemetery as a UNESCO World Heritage to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, according to Jean-Louis Desmarest, the city's mayor.
The Nolette Chinese Cemetery, located at Noyelles-sur-Mer, is the largest Chinese cemetery in Europe. Below the cemetery lays the remains of 842 Chinese laborers who died in World War I.
The mayor announced the application plan on April 9 at a ceremony where about 300 Chinese descendants living in France gathered to commemorate the Chinese laborers killed in the war.
The cemetery has long been a venue for Chinese diplomats to mourn war victims and enhance the bond between China and France. Then Chinese ambassador Kong Quan visited the cemetery in 2013, while Li Zhaoxing, former foreign minister, also visited in 2014.
After World War I began, France and its ally Britain recruited about 140,000 Chinese laborers to undertake heavy behind-the-frontline work, such as digging trenches, building roads, bridges and fortifications and transporting supplies. Tens of thousands of them were killed, while about 3,000 survivors settled down in France.