|Leaders send condolences over Kohl
By An Baijie and Zhou Wa
President Xi Jinping expressed condolences over the death of former German chancellor Helmut Kohl on Saturday, saying that Chinese people will never forget their \"old friend\" for his consistent commitment to promoting China-Germany relations.
Analysts said that Kohl had set the foundation for the development of mutually beneficial and friendly China-Germany relations, which has been greatly significant to the current ties between the two countries and their joint efforts to boost free trade and oppose protectionism.
In condolence messages to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Chancellor Angela Merkel, Xi spoke highly of Kohl\'s positive contributions to the development of China-Germany relations, as well as his understanding and support for the Chinese people to realize complete national reunification.
Xi called Kohl \"an outstanding statesman\" who made great contributions to German reunification and European integration. His historic legacy will be remembered by all, Xi said.
Premier Li Keqiang also extended a message of condolence to Merkel on Saturday over the death of Kohl.
Kohl died at his home in Ludwigshafen, in Germany\'s western state of Rhineland-Palatinate on Friday at the age of 87.
He led Germany for a record 16 years - first as West German chancellor from 1982 to 1990 and then as chancellor of the reunited Germany until 1998, during which time he visited China four times. He also traveled to China many times after retirement.
At a seminar in Beijing in June 2005, Kohl said that the experiences of the German people made them fully understand China\'s stance of the one-China policy, according to China News Service.
The second-longest-serving chancellor in German history after Otto von Bismarck, Kohl was not only the architect of German reunification, but also an staunch advocate of European unity, pushing for the creation of the continent\'s single currency, the euro, in 2002.
Mei Zhaorong, former Chinese ambassador to Germany, said that Kohl was a \"true friend\" of China who made positive efforts to push forward developing ties with Beijing in the late 1980s, when many Western powers isolated China.
\"Kohl used to tell me, \'If you have any problems, please contact me directly\',\" Mei said, adding that the former chancellor was a pragmatic political figure who focused on win-win results for China-Germany relations.
Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China, said the Chinese leaders\' condolence messages show the great importance the Chinese government attaches to the development of Sino-German relations.
The global economy is facing lots of uncertainties, with rising challenges against globalization and multilateralism, and it is of great significance for the global economy that China and Germany join hands to maintain the free trade system, he said.
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