Former British Prime Minister Edward Heath, a long-standing friend of China, died of pneumonia on Sunday aged 89.
Heath paid a total of 26 visits to China over a period of 27 years, with the first being in 1974 when he met late Chinese leaders Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.
Heath's visits to China in the 1970s helped improve relations between China and the West, and it was his government that established full diplomatic relations with China in 1972.
In the 1980s, his visits and numerous meetings with Deng also played a key role in the Sino-UK negotiations on China's resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong.
Deng outlined the overall principles on how to solve the Hong Kong issue during talks with Heath in April 1982, giving vital impetus to tough negotiations between the two countries.
The basis of "one country, two systems," proposed by Deng, "is entirely new, and was created specifically to address Hong Kong's needs. I believe it can work successfully," Heath said at the time.
"The safe and peaceful return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 was a historic and moving event" and was also the best outcome for the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Britain and for the whole world as well, Heath added.
Speaking about Deng in an interview with the Xinhua News Agency in 2004, Heath said: "His personality was quiet, but also intense. He thought things out beforehand. He never hesitated."
"And he did have a great vision of China, a very broad vision, also of its relations with other countries when he introduced reforms and opening-up policies in 1978," Heath added.
Heath had two long talks with Mao in 1974 and 1975, a great many meetings with Deng and also met then President Jiang.
resumption : beginning again（恢复，重获）
beforehand: ahead of time; in anticipation（预先）