Chinese say their goodbyes

Updated: 2013-12-11 01:20

By ZHAO YANRONG in Beijing and Li Lianxing in Johannesburg (China Daily)

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Chinese say their goodbyes

Vice-President Li Yuanchao speaks at the memorial for Mandela. Matt Dunham / Associated Press

"For all his life, he had striven for the liberation of African nations, championed the dignity of the African people and endeavored to advance the unity of all African countries and move forward Africa's cooperation with the world," Li said at the memorial service.

He switched from Chinese to English, concluding his speech by saying: "Although the great man has left, Mandela's thought and his spirit will live forever."

Hong Lei, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Tuesday that top Chinese leaders highly respected Mandela.

Chinese say their goodbyes
In memory of Mandela

President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang "give high marks to the important role Mandela played in the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the historical position of the founding of the new South Africa, as well as Mandela's contribution to the development of China-South Africa relations", Hong said.

Mandela's connection with China goes back a long way.

In his memoir Conversations with Myself, Mandela said he was inspired by the work of Mao Zedong and the Chinese revolutionary experiences.

Ambassador Langa said: "The South African people widely know that China was one of the first countries Mandela visited after he walked out of the prison, and one of the last countries he paid a visit to near the end of his presidential term."

During his presidency in 1998, China and South Africa established diplomatic relations.

"It was remarkable that over only 15 years since diplomatic relations have been established, the economic ties have grown rapidly," he said.

In Johannesburg, South Africans who attended the memorial were confident that South Africa-China relations will advance with the legacy of Mandela.

"We have a very good relationship with China and hope Chinese people can feel our inspiration as well," Nancy Dlimina, a 29-year-old university student said. "We must share his spirit for an equal life and love to every one, and take this higher and higher."

Peter Nkoma, a 44-year-old South African electrical appliance shop owner, said it was Mandela who gave South Africans an equal opportunity to start businesses at home and embrace more international opportunities.

"That's why we now have more trade ties with China and most of my goods are imported from China," he said.

He Wenping, an expert on African studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the world is sharing Mandela's spirit of reconciliation, the power of forgiveness as well as the unswerving pursuit of peace.

But South Africa still faces new challenges, especially the difficulties of realizing equality in economic development, she added.

"This is also why President Zuma said that the goal Mandela pursued still has a long way to go to be achieved," He said.

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Mo Jingxi and Zhang Fan contributed to this story.

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