Update: Death of Yuan Longping a great loss for China’s agriculture sector, Ministry of Agriculture expresses condolences; memorial service set to be held on Monday
Published: May 22, 2021 08:42 PM
Yuan Longping is dubbed the Father of Hybrid Rice. Photo:Xinhua

Yuan Longping is dubbed the "Father of Hybrid Rice". Photo:Xinhua

As the whole nation mourns the death of Yuan Longping, the pioneer of the research and development of hybrid rice in China, on Saturday, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs expressed its condolences over his death and heralded his contribution to China and the world's food security. 

"Yuan always strove to stabilize the Chinese people's rice bowl and ensure global food security. Since the large-scale application of hybrid rice in 1976, China's hybrid rice provided strong support for national food security and made outstanding contributions to eliminating hunger and poverty around the world, the office of the central rural work leading group and the agriculture ministry said in a Saturday release. 

"Yuan's death was a great loss for China on issues related to agriculture, rural areas and farmers… we will learn from and carry forward Yuan's noble spirit and character, continue to promote the innovation of the seed industry. We will resolutely turn around the battle and win the initiative in food security," it said. 

Yuan's memorial service will be held on Monday, a staffer from Mingyangshan Funeral House in Changsha told Hongxing News. Starting at 9:30 Sunday, people can enter the funeral house to pay homage to Yuan's remains, and bid farewell to Yuan up close.

Local residents from Changsha and others coming from other places lined up to offer flowers outside the funeral home until late  Saturday night. 

Waves of mourning were seen earlier on Saturday morning, after individual media mistakenly reported Yuan's death, exploding over China's social media, seemingly no matter what occupation, or where they live, almost everyone started talking about the scientist as such news was not accepted as true. 

However, the breaking news came true after all. Yuan passed away in a hospital in Changsha at 1:07 pm on Saturday at the age of 91.

People flocked to social media to express their condolences for the loss of Yuan. Yuan was hailed by netizens as "a great man of our time," "the pride of the Republic, the backbone of the nation, and a role model for every descendant of Chinese people!" 

The hashtag "Yuan Longping died" generated more than 3.1 billion views and 6.6 million comments as of press time.

As millions of people mourned Yuan online, hundreds of people flocked to the hospital to say goodbye to Yuan as the hearse carrying his body drove away from Xiangtan Hospital in Changsha, Hunan Province. They all shouted together: "Farewell! Grandpa Yuan!" 

As the hearse drove to the Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center from the hospital along the way, vehicles in Changsha whistled to express their condolences. Hundreds of people encircled the hearse in droves as the vehicle made its way into the center of the city, according to video footage by CCTV.

"About 3000 chrysanthemums were sold out earlier today. Now, both white and yellow ones are sold out. Many people have placed their orders online to express their condolences," Niniu from a flower shop in Changsha told Cailian Press. 

Hunan Hybrid Rice Research Center and Southwest University, the home university of Yuan, had turned its front page to black and white to mourn Yuan.  

Upon learning about the death of Yuan, alumni, teachers and students of Southwest University in Chongqing spontaneously went to Yuan's sculpture on the campus to present flowers and observe a silence. 

"I made rice for lunch, a very sweet meal indeed. I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Yuan died. The tears were running down my face," a Sina Weibo user said. "Like the sky, never left. You will always be the star of the country," another said. 

"We will never forget your merits and spirit. We will relay your dream of enjoying the prosperous motherland. Farewell!" another used posted.

In addition to widespread mourning from netizens, mainstream media including the Xinhua News Agency and the People's Daily released numerous news content about Yuan to express their condolences.