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Belgian friend of China passes away in Brussels

Updated: 2013-12-25 20:48
By Fu Jing (

Belgian friend of China passes away in Brussels

Henri Lederhandler was at home with his autobiography in September 2013. His life was, for a great part, dedicated to the improvement of business and political relations between China and the Western world.  Fu Jing/China Daily

Henri Lederhandler, long a builder of relations between China and Belgium and a witness to incredible changes in his second motherland, died of a heart attack on Dec 24, the day of Christmas Eve, at the age of 80. He is survived by his wife, a son, daughter and daughter-in-law and grandchildren.

Wang Jian, a diplomat for the Chinese embassy to Belgium cited Henri's son Eric Lederhandler as saying the family was saddened after his father died in the early morning in a hospital in suburban Brussels. Wang also cited Chinese Ambassador Liao Liqiang as saying the two countries have lost a valuable bridge builder of friendship.

Lederhandler's funeral will take place in his hometown of Brussels on Jan 3.

In a message to China Daily, Bernard Dewit, chairman of the Belgian-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said Lederhandler had a heart attack and was taken to hospital where he had a second heart attack. "Nothing could be done to save him yesterday and he is an excellent example for people of humble origins who wish to succeed," Dewit said on the morning of Christmas Day.

Before his death, Lederhandler was vice-president of the chamber. He was also president of the friendship and business section more than 10 years ago.

Dewit said Lederhandler's life was, for a great part, dedicated to the improvement of business and political relations between China and the Western world.

Despite only a six-year education, Lederhandler's life involved more than half a century of trade and cultural relations with China after he stepped down as head of an agency exporting steel, chemicals and heavy machinery to China several years ago. He wrote a book on his life with French language professor and China expert Serge Pairoux. The Chinese version of the biography will be published early next year.

Un Parcours Improbable (An Improbable Journey), published earlier this year, covers from Lederhandler's meetings with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in the 1950s and '60s, through to those with present-day leaders. Such was Lederhandler's standing in China that in May 2012, now premier, Li Keqiang, visited his home and family in Brussels to thank him for his pioneering contribution to bilateral trade and economic relations.

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