President Xi Jinping and other solemn-looking Chinese leaders presented flower baskets and scores of ordinary people filed up to lay a single flower each Tuesday at the People's Heroes Monument in central Beijing to mark Martyr's Day.

It is one of three new holidays created this year in a renewed focus on World War II.

The other two holidays, marking the Japanese surrender and the massacre of civilians by Japanese forces in Nanjing, refer specifically to China's fight against Japanese occupiers and were created during a Chinese government campaign to highlight what it has called a renewed militarism by Japan.

Tuesday's holiday has no explicit anti-Japanese theme, however, and refers generally to "heroes who gave their lives to national independence."

It falls on the day before China's National Day holiday.