'Premier Zhou valued my father'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 March, 2004, 12:00am

An able military man who fought against the Japanese in the second world war, the late lieutenant-general Li Yin-wo - father of Martin Lee - was also a respected scholar. Born in 1898, Li was one of the first young Chinese to study in France and the first Chinese to receive a French doctor of pharmacy degree.

During his student days in Paris in the 1920s, Li (right) became acquainted with Zhou Enlai, who went on to become China's first premier.

'At that time, my father was already a member of the Kuomintang and premier Zhou was a Communist Party member,' Mr Lee said. 'There was one day when the two men spent 24 hours trying to convince each other to give up their political affiliation and join the other party. Of course, both men failed in their attempt.'

Li was widely known as a clean politician who adopted a humble lifestyle, in stark contrast to many of his Kuomintang colleagues. He fled to Hong Kong in 1949 when the Communist Party took over the mainland, and worked as a teacher.

'Every year after the unification, premier Zhou sent a delegate to try to convince my father to return to the motherland. Premier Zhou valued my father very much,' Mr Lee said. Li died on February 4, 1989.