Sat, Dec 31, 2005 - Page 5 News List

Hundreds bid final farewell to China's Wang Daohan


Mourners attend the funeral of China's top cross-strait negotiator Wang Daohan yesterday in Shanghai. Hundreds of officials and Shanghai residents attended the funeral. Wang died on Dec. 24 aged 90.


Former Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) and other senior communist officials yesterday joined hundreds of Shanghai residents in a final farewell to Wang Daohan (汪道涵), a former mayor who served as China's longtime negotiator on Taiwan issues.

Wang, who died on Dec. 24 aged 90, was credited with helping to build China's biggest city into a modern financial center.

He later served as chairman of China's Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, which deals with Taiwan in the absence of formal ties between the two sides.

Wang was born in Anhui Province in 1915 and studied in Shanghai before joining the Communist Party in 1938. He fought against the Japanese in World War II and in the civil war that brought the Communists to power in 1949.

After working in a number of trade and investment roles, Wang became mayor of Shanghai. One of his proteges, Jiang, later followed him as mayor, going on to become Communist Party chief and president.

Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong (曾慶紅), a Jiang protege, and Shanghai's Communist Party leader Chen Liangyu (陳良宇) were among the scores of officials and revolutionary veterans who attended yesterday's funeral, held at the Longhua Funeral Home, which serves as Shanghai's main memorial hall for Communist Party leaders and other dignitaries.

"His contribution was just too great," said Li Si, a retired oil field worker who was in the crowd standing outside.

"Farewell venerable Mr Wang, rest in peace. May the motherland soon be reunited," said a white placard held up by Liao Daming, a middle-aged man who knelt briefly to show his respect.

Hundreds of others, some holding bouquets festooned with expressions of mourning, argued successfully to get past a police cordon keeping out those not formally invited.

During meetings in the late spring with former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Lien Chan (連戰), and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜), Wang showed little sign of illness, making witty banter with his visitors, but mentioning that he tired quickly.

China has not named anyone to replace Wang as its top negotiator in talks with Taiwan.

Wang held a symbolic but extremely important position. His 1993 meeting with then chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫), a respected Taiwanese statesman and businessman, was the first high-level official encounter between China and Taiwan since 1949. The two held another round of talks in 1998 but political squabbles had prevented them from meeting since.

Koo died early this year at age 87. His widow, Cecilia Koo (辜嚴倬雲), was among several dignitaries from Taiwan and Hong Kong who attended Wang's funeral.

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