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.