On the afternoon of August 23, 2009, the government of the Republic of Korea (ROK) held a grand state funeral at Parliament square in Seoul, ROK, for former President Kim Dae-jung who passed away on August 18. Chinese government's special envoy Tang Jiaxuan attended the ceremony.
During his stay in the ROK, Tang met with ROK President Lee Myung-bak and conveyed to him the cordial greetings and best wishes from Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, he extended deep condolence over the death of former President Kim and sincere sympathy to his family.
Mr. Kim was a good friend of the Chinese people and made major contributions to promoting the development of the China-ROK relations, which the Chinese government and people will never forget, Tang said. Mr. Kim was actively devoted to the North-South reconciliation and cooperation on the Korean peninsula and peace and development in this region as well, which has been highly praised by the international community, Tang noted.
Tang said that the China-ROK relations have developed soundly with the joint efforts of both sides. The heads of state of the two countries exchanged visits last year and the two sides established the strategic cooperative partnership, marking a new stage of development for the bilateral ties. China stands ready to work with the ROK to reinforce communication, expand mutually beneficial cooperation, continue to enrich the bilateral strategic cooperative partnership and promote the fast and stable growth of bilateral relations.
President Lee Myung-bak thanked Tang for especially attending the funeral as the envoy of the Chinese government. Chinese leaders have sent messages of condolence after former President Kim passed away, for which people from all walks of life in the ROK feel deeply grateful. He asked Tang to convey his best regards and wishes to President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other Chinese leaders. He noted that the ROK attaches great importance to the relations with China. Since the two countries established diplomatic ties, the bilateral cooperation in various fields, economic cooperation in particular, has achieved long-term development. The ROK expects to join hands with China to continue to strengthen cooperation in the bilateral relations as well as in regional and international affairs, enrich the connotation of the strategic cooperative partnership and step up coordination and collaboration on the international and regional issues.
Tang also met with ROK Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan.
Former ROK President Kim Dae-jung died of multiple organ failure caused by pneumonia on the afternoon of August 18. Present at the funeral were about 20,000 people, including President Lee Myung-bak, Prime Minister Han Seung-soo and other ROK politicians, Kim Dae-jung's wife Lee Hee-ho and other family members, as well as ROK citizens from all walks of life. Foreign diplomatic envoys in the ROK as well as special envoys or representatives of over 10 countries also attended the ceremony which started from 14:00 (13:00 Beijing time) and ended at 15:15. Following the funeral, Mr. Kim's hearse, escorted by his family and ROK politicians, headed slowly to the National Cemetery for burial.
Hundreds of thousands of ROK people from all over the country gathered along both sides of the road the hearse passed to bid last farewell to the late former president.