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China Daily Website

Chinese say their goodbyes

Updated: 2013-12-11 01:20
By ZHAO YANRONG in Beijing and Li Lianxing in Johannesburg ( China Daily)

Chinese say their goodbyes

Rain does not deter people from crowding into FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Tuesday to honor former South African president Nelson Mandela. Themba Hadebe / Associated Press

South African embassy overwhelmed by outpouring of love and respect

As world leaders and South Africans braved driving rain and cold to honor Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Bheki Langa was surprised to find out that the former South African president was so loved by young Chinese.

The South African ambassador to China said he was overwhelmed by the emotions expressed by the Chinese since Mandela died on Dec 5.

"We were quite heartened by that. We didn't know he was so well known and beloved in China," Langa said in an interview on Tuesday.

Since Mandela's death, the South African embassy in Beijing has been deluged by messages over the phone and through the Internet.

Chinese have formed long lines outside the embassy waiting for a chance to sign books of condolence.

Zhang Yiwen, 32, who works with the World Food Program China Office, was one of them.

"Mandela was a fighter for freedom and justice. It's very inspiring that a single person can have such great achievements," she said. "His spirit not only helped me stay strong when facing the challenges in my life but also encouraged me to help vulnerable groups."

The South African community in Beijing lit candles to honor Mandela on Tuesday.

"Mandela has served our nation and the world with distinguished dignity, and we will forever remain indebted to him," said Tebogo Lefifi, the representative of Brand South Africa, a public relations agency of the South African government, at a memorial event in Pinotage, a South African restaurant in Beijing.

"While his passing is a source of sadness, we shall all continue to celebrate his legacy of commitment and service for the improvement of conditions in his own country and around the world," she added.

Many people at Pinotage left messages on a 5-meter scroll, which will be sent to Mandela's family in South Africa.

At FNB Stadium in the Johannesburg township of Soweto, Vice-President Li Yuanchao joined more than 90 global leaders to pay respects to the late leader.

As the special representative of President Xi Jinping, Li said Mandela was the pride of the African people.

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