Tributes to Castro flood Chinese social media

Updated - December 02, 2016 08:13 pm IST

Published - November 26, 2016 11:08 pm IST - BEIJING:

In this March 14, 1957 file photo, Fidel Castro (centre), the young anti-Batista guerrilla leader, is seen with his brother Raul Castro (left) and Camilo Cienfuegos, while operating in the Mountains of Eastern Cuba.

In this March 14, 1957 file photo, Fidel Castro (centre), the young anti-Batista guerrilla leader, is seen with his brother Raul Castro (left) and Camilo Cienfuegos, while operating in the Mountains of Eastern Cuba.

Social media in China reacted with nostalgia to news of the death of Cuba’s iconic leader Fidel Castro, with many hailing him as a “hero.” A section of the state media described him as a “warrior” against social injustice.

There was an outpouring of tributes on Sina Weibo, the Chinese social media website. One post saw in the Cuban leader’s passing, the end of the “majestic Castro age”, with the person adding, “I will remember him as a man unafraid of power and [political] tempest, who with unparalleled courage confronted the United States head on. Truly a great man.”

Another netizen observed: “Salute a great man of his generation. No matter if he is left or right, socialist or capitalist, if he is friendly to China, he is China’s friend.”

The state-run Global Times quoted Hua Liming, former ambassador to Iran and the UAE, as saying: “Castro is seen as a hero in China and his passing will be considered a great loss by many Chinese who know the history and destiny that China and Cuba shared.”

He added that China and Cuba bonded on similar ideologies and difficult times when the two countries faced enormous challenges from the West in the 1950s.

“Both countries faced a lot of hostility and containment from the West and Castro’s reputation of leading such a small country against its gigantic neighbour is an inspiration for many not only in China but smaller countries as well,” Mr. Hua observed.

The reaction of Chinese citizens to the passing of Castro also reflects the challenges China and Cuba still face today from the West, noted the former diplomat. The Global Times pointed out that Castro made his last state visit to China in 2003, holding talks with former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, following a grand welcome ceremony that was held at the Great Hall of the People in his honour.

Chinese President Xi Jinping also met Castro twice between 2011 and 2014. “You are deeply admired by the Cuban people and have also won the respect of the Chinese people. We will never forget the significant contributions you have made to bilateral relationships,” Mr. Xi was quoted as saying.

The state-run China Daily newspaper reported that Beijing and Havana established diplomatic relations in 1960, but it wasn't until 35 years later that Fidel Castro came to China for the first time. Castro paid a nine-day visit to China in December 1995 and went to Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. He made a special trip to China's Great Wall and tasted roast duck at the famous Beijing Quanjude Duck Restaurant, said the daily.

According to Xu Yicong, China’s former ambassador to Cuba, Castro also liked the Chinese sweet osmanthus-flavoured wine.

Though Castro met President Mr. Xi and former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, he never met Deng Xiaoping and Mao Zedong.

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