Malta President George Abela missed the spectacular opening ceremony of the World Expo in Shanghai because of a leg injury, but he felt something that he said he would remember forever during the special Chinese tour.
In the morning of April 30, twelve hours before the opening ceremony of the World Expo, Abela's leg was hurt in an accident. The head of the Mediterranean state was rushed to the city's best Ruijin Hospital.
"I will not meet with President Hu Jintao on a wheelchair," said Malta President George Abela lying on a hospital bed in Shanghai, striving to stand up, but failed.
Absent from the opening session held beside the Huangpu River that evening, Abela, who was supposed to be there, watched in his ward the live TV show of those magnificent dancing, singing and splendid fireworks.
"I'm not there, but I can feel as the Chinese do," Abela was quoted by a Chinese diplomat as saying.
President Hu, upon his knowledge of the accident, immediately instructed senior officials of the Chinese Foreign Ministry to visit Abela in hospital.
On May 1, Hu met with six foreign leaders who came to the Chinese economic hub for the first World Expo in a developing country. He repeatedly asked about Abela's situation during the short breaks.
Finishing all the meetings, Hu rushed to Abela's ward, and the two presidents' hands held tight.
"I know that today you are very busy and your coming impressed me very much," Abela said, noting such a meeting indicated the friendship and mutual respect between China and Malta.
"I was sorry to hear you got hurt yesterday," Hu told Abela, asking his counterpart to be relieved and pledged the best medicare.
"You sent a letter of condolence to us after the earthquake in Yushu of Qinghai Province, and you came here for the Expo after such a long journey.Now I would like to express my sincere appreciation to you," Hu said.
As the Malta delegation failed to find a charter plane to take home their president, Hu decided to send a special plane for the task.
"I will remember forever the friendship with Chinese, as well as President Hu and his wife," Abela told senior officials of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Shanghai government at the Hongqiao Airport before leaving.
The plane took off at 8:55 a.m., May 3 and landed on 4 p.m. local time at the Malta International Airport, where Abela, accompanied by a Chinese medical group, was received by his colleagues and Chinese ambassador Zhang Keyuan.
"I, on behalf of all the Malta people, invite all the friendly Chinese people to visit my country," Abela, still on a hospital bed, told the medical group who were backing China. Source: Xinhuahttp://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2010-05/06/nw.D110000renmrb_20100506_1-01.htm