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Grateful nation bids farewell

China Daily

Grateful nation bids farewell
Beihang University students pay their respects to Luo Yang, former head of production for the J-15 fighter jet. Luo graduated from the university in 1982.[Wang Jing / China Daily] 

More than 3,000 people attended a memorial service on Thursday for Luo Yang, former head of production for the J-15 fighter jet, in Shenyang, Liaoning province.

Luo, chairman and general manager of Shenyang Aircraft Corp, died of a heart attack on Sunday after observing the culmination of his life's work; a J-15 landing on China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. He was 51.

Thousands of people, including representatives from the navy and air force, joined relatives and colleagues in bidding a final and emotional farewell at Huilonggang Cemetery for Revolutionaries where Luo's body was placed and covered with a flag of the Communist Party of China.

Lin Zuoming, president of Aviation Industry Corp of China that owns Shenyang Aircraft Corp, offered his condolences.

"We are very sad to lose such a great brother and colleague who was worthy of our utmost respect," he said.

His colleagues held banners in front of the mourning hall. "Transfer grief into power and finish Luo Yang's mission," read one.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said that Luo's death is "a huge loss to the Party as well as the nation".

Tian Feng, from Shenyang Aircraft Corp's labor union, said that Luo's dedication to his job was inspirational.

"Luo was a charming colleague, he always greeted other workers," he said.

Luo also took responsibility to make sure the workers were well looked after and he boosted wages, he added.

In the Shenyang Aircraft plant, near the cemetery, more than 15,000 workers observed a minute's silence.

Technicians at the J-15 assembly line stayed at their posts in tribute to Luo, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

An air force officer, who was in charge of J-15 test flights, said he found it difficult to accept Luo's death and the poignant timing of it.

"The fighter jet had just successfully landed on the deck of the Liaoning, but Mr Luo will never see it happen again," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

He used to talk frequently with Luo about the fighter's technology.

Sun Li, a journalist at China National Radio, said that he burst into tears when told about Luo's death as he was reporting from the aircraft carrier on Sunday.

"I changed my schedule and drove to Shenyang immediately,'' he wrote on his micro blog on Tuesday. "I wanted to say goodbye to my friend. Take care, Mr Luo."

Tributes poured in from netizens, including many renowned micro-bloggers.

Guo Mingyi, a steel worker honored by the government as a "modern-day Lei Feng'', said that he was touched by Luo's devotion to the State's interests.

"Advanced defense technology cannot be purchased, it has to be developed at home," he said in his micro blog, which has more than 14.9 million followers.

"Just as netizens were showing their appreciation of his work with 'carrier-style' stances, Luo Yang left us forever," he said.

Luo's sudden death has put scientists and their heavy workload into public focus. Luo's recent schedule had been hectic.

Before going to Shenyang on Nov 17, Luo had attended Airshow China 2012 in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Immediately after the air show, he got on a helicopter and headed directly to the J-15 fighter base for test flight preparations.

Luo usually started work at 6 am and returned home around midnight. He did not smoke or drink alcohol, but he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

"He stood within 20 meters of the take-off point for the J-15, whose spectacular roar was almost unbearable," Meng Jun, chairman of AVIC Shenyang Liming Aero-Engine (Group) Corporation LTD, told Xinhua.

Xu Zhangrong, a doctor at the 306th Hospital of the PLA, said that people should pay more attention to the risks of heart disease.

"Luo Yang died from heart disease. People should be aware of factors contributing to this, including blood pressure. Weight is also an issue and people should quit smoking," he said.

Guan Ying, a researcher at the Tianjin Academy of Social Sciences, said on her micro blog that Luo seemed very tired in TV footage taken on the carrier.

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