News / Asia

Asia Mourns Passing of Peaceful Revolutionary: Mandela

Asia Mourns Mandelai
December 06, 2013 6:34 PM
Across Asia Friday, democracy advocates, political leaders and ordinary people paid tribute to Nelson Mandela as a peaceful revolutionary. Chinese authorities expressed remorse, while some pondered the question of which person in China most resembled South Africa’s freedom fighter. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing has more on the reaction from around the region.
Asia Mourns Mandela
Across Asia Friday, democracy advocates, political leaders and ordinary people paid tribute to Nelson Mandela as a peaceful revolutionary. Chinese authorities expressed deep grief, while some pondered the question of which person in China most resembled South Africa’s freedom fighter.
In Asia it was Mandela’s courage and compassion that was a source of inspiration in places where people still face serious restrictions on basic rights.

From ordinary people to Nobel Laureate's, many took time to celebrate a man who become an icon for his peaceful stand for freedom.
FILE Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu KyiFILE Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
FILE Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
FILE Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi
Burmese opposition politician and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi said that South Africa’s first democratically elected president helped the world understand that no one should be punished for the color of their skin or the circumstances they were born into.

“He also made us understand that we can change the world," she noted. "We can change the world by changing attitudes, by changing perceptions. For this reason I would like to pay him tribute as a great human being who raised the standard of humanity."
FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai LamaFILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama
FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama
FILE - Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama
Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, also a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, said he considered Mandela as a respected elder brother. The Dalai Lama said that he hoped that those mourning his passing would use it as inspiration. 

“This is a very sad moment for those including myself who admire that great person. Sad, just feel sad, and pray, but not much meaning. How we must develop determination or enthusiasm to carry his spirit - that's really important. Because sometimes the sadness can translate into more willpower,” he said.

FILE - Indian President Pranab MukherjeeFILE - Indian President Pranab Mukherjee
FILE - Indian President Pranab Mukherjee
FILE - Indian President Pranab Mukherjee
India’s President Pranab Mukherjee spoke about how the world has lost another icon of humanity or as he put it “a struggler, a fighter, a crusader against all injustice.” He compared him to India’s own founding father, Mahatma Gandhi.

In New Delhi, resident Hemant Khurana echoed that sentiment. "It's very shocking news for all the world because he was one of the grand figures in the world today," said Khurana. "And he was very much inspired by Gandhi so India has a special feeling for such a great man."

Outside South Africa’s embassies from Australia to China, some came to pay their respects. In the Chinese capital of Beijing, several young Chinese students gathered and spoke about Mandela’s influence.

The student said that Nelson Mandela fought for freedom and was a fighter his entire life. He did not give up because of temporary setbacks or because there was no progress. His spirit has infected us, the student says.
FILE - China's President Xi JinpingFILE - China's President Xi Jinping
FILE - China's President Xi Jinping
FILE - China's President Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping praised Mandela as a world-renowned statesman and noted how he led the South African people in their fight against apartheid.

Xi also noted his contributions to relations with China and how Mandela was one of the founders of Beijing’s bilateral relationship with Pretoria. In 1998, South Africa switched its diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China.
China’s state-media heaped praise on Mandela and his passing dominated coverage for most of the day on state run television with commentators speaking openly about how he was a fighter for freedom and democracy.
While China's State media drew comparisons between Mandela and Mao Zedong, some noted that Singapore’s former leader Lee Kwan-yew earlier this year compared him with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Such comments, however were hotly debated and the postings quickly removed from social media sites.
Online, some drew comparisons to Chinese rights activists, including imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Others wondered if China could produce an individual similar to the African statesman. Historian Zhang Lifan said that would be unlikely.
Zhang said many have been asking online if China could ever produce someone similar to Mandela and some say it is a cultural issue. He said he agrees and notes that the culture the Communist Party has created in Chinese society makes it very difficult to have someone like Mandela.
Author He Baoguo wrote on his Twitter-like Weibo site that if Mandela has been born in China he would be tortured in jail and forced to make confessions on state-run television.

Aru Pande in New Delhi and Mandarin Service's Fred Wang also contributed to this report.

Interactive Timeline: The Life of Nelson Mandela

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Comment Sorting
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 10, 2013 10:47 AM
It is bizarre to see the Chinese Govt praise Mandela while the CCP prohibits democracy in China and engages in severe human rights violations. The CCP has created a de facto apartheid in Tibet where Tibetans are treated as second-class citizens, live apart from Han Chinese, and have no political power. Chinese-owned shops in Lhasa openly advertise that no Tibetans need apply for jobs or offerTibetans lower pay compared to Chinese workers. Discrimination against Tibetans b/c of their language, culture & religion are common by the Chinese Govt and Chinese businesses. Tibetans are fighting for the same freedom & democracy that Mandela fought for in S. Africa.

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