by Lady Michelle-Jennifer Santos, Founder & Publisher
March 9, 2013 (TSR) – The President of China Hu Jintao sent a message of solidarity and support to the Venezuelan people for the loss of President Hugo Chavez, 58, who died of cancer at a military hospital in Caracas on Tuesday.
“Please accept, on behalf of the Government, the Chinese people and on my own behalf, our sincere condolences, sending you and the Venezuelan government, and their families, our sincere sympathy,” says the statement released by the Head of State.
“His tragic death was not only a huge loss for the Venezuelan people but also deprived the Chinese people of an old great friend, which caused us deep pain”, reported the letter read on Saturday by Minister for Communication and Information, Ernesto Villegas.
Chavez travelled to China six times during his 14-year presidency, forging a “great friendship” with the Chinese leadership and achieved fruitful cooperation agreements between the two countries’ governments and enterprises.
President Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping, China’s top political leader, each sent messages of condolence to Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s acting president.
Both Hu and Xi met Chavez several times over the years when there were frequent high-level meetings between the two countries.
In the message, Hu also expressed what it meant for Venezuela to have the figure of Hugo Chávez in strengthening the strategic partnership between the two nations, enhancing bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas and cementing friendship between the two peoples.
“Chavez was an outstanding leader of Venezuela and a distinguished politician in Latin America, who had devoted all his life to national revitalization, development and social progress, and earned respect and support from the Venezuelan people,” Hu said in his message.
The text also states that the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution brought important national actions to exchange multiple grounds, and was the main driver of friendship with the Chinese government.
“The Chinese government and people highly valued the traditional friendship Sino-Venezuelan, being in the willingness to work together with the Venezuelan constantly to deepen our comprehensive partnership for common development in the best interest of the two nations and the two peoples”, said the statement.
“We must join efforts to continue developing and deepening relations between China and Venezuela. It’s the only way to comfort the soul of President Hugo Chávez,” Hu also told President Nicolas Maduro who was sworn in on Friday, in the televised meeting.
Zhang Ping, Minister of the National Development and Reform Commission attended the funeral of President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela as President Hu Jintao’s Special Envoy.
‘Strong and vibrant’
In the eyes of many Chinese people, Chavez was a “strong and vibrant” leader from Latin America.
Liu Jianwei, a former employee of the China National Construction & Agricultural Machinery Import & Export Corp, met Chavez twice between 1999 and 2001 when he was a representative of the company in Venezuela.
The company was selling agricultural machinery to Venezuela as part of a $30 million loan project between the two countries, he recalled.
Chavez greeted Liu and his colleagues and with great passion when he visited a product promotion campaign and later at a ceremony held by the company, Liu remembered.
“He had the enthusiasm and vigor that you can see particularly in South Americans. He was good at making speeches and had really close connections with ordinary people,” Liu said. What Liu appreciates most is Chavez’s promotion of the two countries’ economic and trade relations.
“When we ran into problems in loans and products, they could be well resolved with the support of local governments,” Liu said.
“When the relationship between two countries is good, both their companies can benefit. The Sino-Venezuelan relationship during Chavez’s time was a good example,” Liu said.
Chavez was also friendly to Chinese media, said China Daily reporter Qin Jize, who attended a group interview with Chavez in 2006 at Venezuela’s embassy in Beijing during his fourth visit to China.
“He shook hands with every reporter and showed us a chart when describing his country,” Qin said.
“Chávez didn’t eliminate the opposition party, didn’t ban freedom of public assembly, congregations, or demonstrations, and he didn’t do away with private property. He didn’t restrict speech, he was elected by means of democracy, one vote at a time, and under the socialism he implemented, the vast majority of petroleum income was evenly distributed among the citizens, allowing all citizens to enjoy the wealth of the state equally, May I ask how could the ordinary people not support a leader like this? America [the USA] dislikes Chávez, but why didn’t they dare move [against] him? Because Chávez’s rise occurred entirely through organization, debate, demonstration, and voting. It was entirely American-style and entirely in accordance with the national constitution. It was only his economics were socialist and his politics were anti-American! If this is also socialism, I support it also!” exclaimed by a Chinese nicknamed “jhggghk”.
In 2001, the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing awarded Chavez an honorary doctorate in economics, when he was on his second visit to China.
Chavez was familiar with Chinese history and said he was a follower of Chairman Mao Zedong.
Li Jinzhang, China’s ambassador to Brazil and former head of the department of Latin American and Caribbean Affairs in the Foreign Ministry between 1998 and 2001, said Chavez was fond of talking about Chinese history and citing famous Chinese sayings when meeting Chinese leaders.
He once quoted Mao’s famous saying, “All reactionaries are paper tigers”, Li said.
Before his death, Chavez had visited China multiple times, actively promoting China-Venezuela economic trade. He also liked reading and a fellow fan of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and held Mao Zedong Thought in high esteem, and was regarded as an old great friend of the Chinese people.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are some highlights of Hugo Chávez relations with China in pictures, starting with my personal favorite from his first trip to China, in 1999.
1999 October 11, Badaling, Beijing: Venezuelan President Chávez walks along the Great Wall together with tourists.
2001 April 15, Simón Bolívar International Airport, Venezuela: Chinese President Jiang Zemin (left) attends a welcoming ceremony held by Venezuelan President Chávez.
2001 April 17, Carreño Cultural Complex: Chinese President Jiang Zemin (right) shakes hands with Venezuelan President Chávez.
2006 August 24, Great Hall of the People, Beijing: At a signing ceremony, Venezuelan President Chávez (left) gives a thumbs-up to Chinese President Hu Jintao
2006 August 24, Great Hall of the People, Beijing: At a signing ceremony, Venezuelan President Chávez (left) and Chinese President Hu Jintao drink a toast.
2006 August 24, Great Hall of the People, Beijing: At a welcoming ceremony, Venezuelan President Chávez and Chinese President Hu Jintao (right) inspect the honor guard.
2006 August 27, Taishan, Shandong Province, China: Venezuelan President Chávez says a prayer.
2008 September 24, Beijing: During a high-level Chinese-Venezuelan committee meeting, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez holds his hand out in a gesture of greeting.
2009 April 9, Beijing: Xi Jinping meets Venezuelan President Chávez at the Diaoyu Islands National Guesthouse.
(Photo: Xinhua/Li Tao)
2009 April 9, Beijing: Xi Jinping meets Venezuelan President Chávez. (Photo: Xinhua/Li Tao)
2011 November 24, Caracas, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Chávez (left) displaying a copy of Mao Zedong’s [Little Red Book] while meeting Chinese National Development and Reform Committee Deputy Secretary Zhang Xiaoqiang.
2011 November 24, Caracas, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Chávez (left) reading Mao Zedong’s [Little Red Book] while meeting Chinese National Development and Reform Committee Deputy Secretary Zhang Xiaoqiang. Venezuela’s Energy Secretary stated, Chinese companies would soon enter into joint-ventures with another four Venezuelan petroleum companies.
2011 November 24, Caracas, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Chávez (center), Venezuelan Commerce Secretary (left) and Chinese National Development and Reform Committee Deputy Secretary Zhang Xiaoqiang (right) shake hands. Venezuela’s Energy Secretary stated, Chinese companies would soon enter into-joint ventures with another four Venezuelan petroleum companies.
China Daily also contributed to this article.