Nelson Mandela. Pic: AP.

COUNTRY leaders, public figures, celebrities and people across Asia have been reacting to the news that South Africa’s first black president and anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela has died, aged 95. This is what they are saying.

President Xi Jinping of China, which supported apartheid’s opponents throughout the Cold War, praised Mandela’s victory in the anti-apartheid struggle and his contribution to “the cause of human progress.”

For Chinese rights activists, Mandela’s death served as a reminder that one of their own symbols of freedom, Nobel Peace prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, remained imprisoned by Chinese authorities. “This moment magnifies how evil the current regime is,” Beijing activist Hu Jia said.

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Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh:

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Burma pro-democracy leader and fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi paid tribute to Mandela as a “great human being who raised the standard of humanity.”

“I would like to express my extreme grief at the passing away of the man who stood for human rights and for equality in this world,” she said at a forum. “He also made us understand that we can change the world. We can change the world by changing the attitudes.”

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Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak:

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Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong:

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Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott:

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Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:

Not only was former President Mandela a tireless fighter, he was also a promoter of reconciliation. Indeed, after bringing about the abolition of apartheid at the end of long years of suffering, he devoted himself to the pursuit of national unity rather than seeking vengeance. For his selfless devotion to this worthy cause I am full of respect and admiration.

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And this from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon:

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AFP reports:

The Dalai Lama said Friday in a letter sent to the family of Nelson Mandela that he would miss a “dear friend” who he hailed as “a man of courage, principle and unquestionable integrity”.