Me­mo­rial jour­ney

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

Vice-Pres­i­dent Li Yuan­chao will join more than 70 lead­ers and celebri­ties to pay re­spects at a me­mo­rial ser­vice for Nel­son Man­dela.

Obama and for­mer pres­i­dents Ge­orge W. Bush, Bill Clin­ton and Jimmy Carter and Ira­nian Pres­i­dent Has­san Rouhani.

“The whole world is com­ing to South Africa,” the coun­try’s for­eign min­istry spokesman Clayson Monyela said.

Wei Jianguo, for­mer vicem­i­nis­ter of com­merce who worked in Africa for many years, said Man­dela’s death marked the end of an era.

“Man­dela was a fighter who was firmly against racial dis­crim­i­na­tion and apartheid. His goal was hard to achieve, but his suc­cess, es­pe­cially his strong willpower, won re­spect from the whole world.”

Af­ter his first term as pres­i­dent, Man­dela de­cided not to seek a sec­ond term. He be­came a peace am­bas­sador and an HIV/AIDS cam­paigner, trav­el­ing around Africa.

“Many peo­ple in Africa fought for the lead­er­ship be­cause they wanted the ben­e­fits that came with the po­si­tion, but Man­dela did not. He had al­ways been hard­work­ing for the good of the African peo­ple,” Wei said.

China and South Africa es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions in 1998, while Man­dela was pres­i­dent, which made him the founder of Sino-South African re­la­tions, Wei said.

“Man­dela was al­ways friendly to­ward China. Af­ter bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion was started, he was in­ter­ested in Chi­nese agri­cul­ture and hoped to re­al­ize food self- suf­fi­ciency in Africa as well,” he said.

Co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two coun­tries has ex­panded to many in­dus­tries, such as man­u­fac­tur­ing, tourism and in­fra­struc­ture, and China is the largest trade part­ner of the African coun­try, he said.

Wei met Man­dela four times when he worked in Africa for the min­istry.

“Man­dela had prob­lems with his legs af­ter years of sleep­ing on the hard con­crete ground in prison, but he in­sisted on greet­ing us by stand­ing up ev­ery time. He was a re­ally kind per­son and full of wis­dom,” he said. Reuters and AFP con­trib­uted to this story.

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