Beijing, Mar 14 (PTI) China paid rich tributes to Stephen Hawking who died today, saying the renowned British theoretical physicist’s contribution to science will be remembered forever.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang recalled three visits made by the 76-year-old Hawking to China during which he had “joyful” exchanges with the Chinese leaders and scientists.

Besides showing interest in China’s technological progress, Hawking also loved Chinese culture and visited the Great Wall, Lu said.

“We express our condolences in the passing away of Hawking. His contribution will be remembered forever,” he said.

Hawking died peacefully in his home near Cambridge University, where he carried out much of his pioneering work on black holes and relativity.

Hawking was immensely popular in China and had opened an account on Chinese social media giant Weibo, known as China’s Twitter, where he posted both in Chinese as well as in English.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.