Communist China is mourning the loss of revolutionary and former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, who passed away late Friday night.
A thorn in America’s side for decades, Castro brought the Cold War to the Western Hemisphere and pushed the world’s two superpowers to the brink of nuclear war. He reportedly survived over 600 assassination attempts, many of which were allegedly carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“History will judge the enormous impact” of Castro, President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House.
“The world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades,” said President-elect Donald Trump. “Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.”
Seen in the West as an oppressive dictator, Castro maintained friendly ties with China, where many regarded him as a “hero.”
Calling him a “great figure of our times,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said that “history and people will remember Fidel Castro,” reports the Xinhua News Agency. Xi met Castro twice in 2011 and 2014.
“Comrade Castro, you will be remembered forever,” China Central Television (CCTV) said in response to Castro’s passing. “The Chinese people have lost a true comrade and a great friend.”
The Global Times, a state-run Chinese tabloid, called Castro “a symbol of historic resistance against the U.S.”
“Castro is seen as a hero in China and his passing will be considered a great loss by many Chinese who knows the history and destiny that China and Cuba shared,” Hua Liming, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, told reporters.
“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 neighbor is an inspiration for many not only in China but smaller countries as well,” he added.
By China’s own admission, “there were little substantive contacts between China and Cuba during the Cold War” due to Cuba’s alignment with the Soviet Union. It was not until the 1990s that ties began to improve.
Castro first visited China in 1995.
“Fidel Castro admired Mao Zedong and … regretted not being able to get to know him,” CCTV asserted in its commentary.
Castro was one of the few remaining noteworthy revolutionaries. “Aside from North Korea, I think he was the last person who clung to pure socialism,” retired Chinese civil servant Liang Yongxing commented.
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