Nelson Mandela

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao to attend Nelson Mandela funeral

VP will attend as a special representative of President Xi Jinping

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 11:02am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 December, 2013, 2:49pm

Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao will attend the funeral of former South African President Nelson Mandela as a special representative of President Xi Jinping, Xinhua reported.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei made the announcement of the visit between December 9 to 11 yesterday in a written statement.

Xinhua reported earlier that Li Yuanchao had paid a visit to the South African Embassy in Beijing on Friday, to mourn the death of the country's former president, Nelson Mandela.

Li said Mandela spent all his life advocating and implementing racial equality and reconciliation. He not only was a hero in the heart of South Africans, but also won global recognition.

In pictures: The world mourns Mandela

Mandela's state funeral on December 15 is set to be the biggest the world has ever seen. Ten days of mourning have already been declared following the death of the 95-year-old on December 5.

Fifty-nine foreign heads of state or government have said so far they will attend either the memorial ceremony or the state funeral of Nelson Mandela in South Africa in the coming week, Reuters quoted a foreign ministry spokesman of South Africa as saying.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have also sent messages of condolence to South African President Jacob Zuma to express their heartfelt sympathies.

“Mr Mandela was a world renowned statesman. With arduous and extraordinary efforts, he led the South African people to win the battle against apartheid, making a historic contribution to the birth and development of a new South Africa,” Xi said in a message to South African President Jacob Zuma, Xinhua reported.

The report said Xi’s message was both representing China and expressing his personal condolences.

Mandela, who visited China twice, “actively promoted friendly cooperation between China and South Africa in various areas”, it added.

“The Chinese people will forever keep in memory the outstanding contributions he made to... the development of humankind.”

Earlier Beijing’s foreign ministry called Mandela an “old friend of the Chinese people”.

China established formal ties with South Africa at the beginning of 1998. Mandela’s death has been widely reported in the Chinese media and people on social media particularly heaped him with praise as South African’s first black president and a global hero for non-violent struggle against racial oppression, injustice, and for freedom.