BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese people are grieving over the loss of their "old friend" Nelson Mandela, the former South African president who contributed to the establishment and development of China-South Africa relations, Premier Li Keqiang said Friday.
In a message of condolences to South African President Jacob Zuma, Li extended his own sincere sympathies and those of the Chinese government and people to Mandela's family, after he passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.
Li said Mandela, who had led the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and helped found the new South Africa, was a world-renowned statesman.
"Mandela is not only admired by the South African people, but also respected by people from all over the world," he said.
The Chinese government will continue to work with South Africa to promote the development of bilateral comprehensive strategic partnership, which will benefit the two countries and the two peoples, Li said.
Earlier on Friday, Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed deep grief over the passing of Mandela, who died following a prolonged lung infection.
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