Fidel Castro will live forever, China President Xi Jinping said Saturday in a message read out on television following the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

“The Chinese people have lost a good and true comrade,” said Xi in a message read at the beginning of the nightly news on the country’s main TV channel. “Comrade Castro will live forever.”

Fidel Castro and Xi Jinping. Photo: Wikicommons.

Castro was “a great man of our time,” said the president. “History and people will remember him,” he added.

Xi said relations between the two communist nations grew quickly thanks to Castro’s efforts after diplomatic ties were established in 1960.

In a documentary aired shortly after Castro’s death was announced, CCTV said that Fidel Castro admired Mao Zedong and “regretted not being able to get to know him.”

Even though the two countries shared an ideology they remained distant due to Cuba’s closeness to the Soviet Union, China‘s rival from the 1960s, until Mao’s death in 1976.

There was a rapprochement after the fall of the Soviet Union, with Chinese leaders visiting Cuba several times.

President Xi “visited his old friend Fidel Castro” in July 2014, CCTV said.

Castro visited Beijing in 1995.

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