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Chinese leaders offer condolences over death of former Australian PM

Updated: Oct 29,2014 7:22 AM     Xinhua

BEIJING -- President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have sent condolences to their respective Australian counterparts over the death of former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and people, I express profound condolences over the death of Whitlam, an outstanding Australian politician and a good friend of the Chinese people, and convey my deep sympathy to his family,” Xi said in his message sent to Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove on Oct 26.

As a pioneer in bilateral ties, Whitlam made a historic choice to establish diplomatic relations with China 42 years ago, Xi said. And China-Australia relations have made rapid progress ever since.

China attaches great importance to its ties with Australia and stands ready to make joint efforts to continuously elevate bilateral relations to a higher level so as to bring more benefits to the two countries and peoples.

Referring to Whitlam as an outstanding Australian leader, Li lauded the important contributions he had made to the advancement of China-Australian relations, notably to forging diplomatic ties between the two countries..

Both the Chinese and Australian people have been benefiting from the strategic decision made by Chinese leaders of the older generation and Whitlam, said Li in his message sent to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Oct 26.

“The Chinese people were greatly saddened by the loss of such an old friend,” he said.

The Chinese government is willing to work with the Australian side to further advance the development of bilateral ties so as to better benefit the two countries and peoples.

Whitlam died at the age of 98 on Oct. 21.