OBITUARY: Lo Fu 1921-2014

Lo Fu, former editor sentenced to 10 years for spying, dies aged 93

Former newspaper editor Lo Fu dies at the age of 93. His faith in the party was shaken by Tiananmen, but not his arrest for espionage

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 May, 2014, 5:11pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 October, 2016, 5:52pm

A leftist Hong Kong journalist once sentenced to a decade in prison on the mainland for spying for the United States died yesterday at the age of 93.

Lo Fu, former chief editor of the New Evening Post, died of gastric cancer and complications arising from pneumonia, according to his son, Law Ho-sha. "We appreciate the condolences from relatives and media friends after the news broke," Law said.

Born in 1921, Lo joined the Communist Party in 1948. Like many left-leaning intellectuals of his era, his faith was unwavering: even after he was arrested in 1982 and accused of spying, he asked his wife to check with his superiors how he could continue to pay his membership fees.

He had stayed loyal during the "anti-rightist" movement, which began in 1957 and resulted in the persecution of hundreds of thousands of intellectuals, although he gradually recognised the damage being done by the Red Guards movement during the Cultural Revolution.

The journalist was arrested on the mainland in April 1982 and sentenced to 10 years in jail the following year. According to a Xinhua report in May 1983, Lo was accused of being in the pay of US intelligence agencies, to whom he had provided information about China's "political, diplomatic and military realms".

Lo denied any wrongdoing and said the conviction was due to contacts he made with US figures at the instruction of his superiors in the party.

He never served a day in prison, but remained under house arrest in Beijing until 1993. However, Lo was fired by his employer, the Communist-affiliated Ta Kung Pao newspaper group, and his pension was cut off.

Lo joined Ta Kung Pao as literary editor in Guilin , Guangxi , in 1941. He moved to Hong Kong in 1948 to revive the paper's edition in the city, and became editor of the New Evening Post, Ta Kung Pao's evening edition, on its launch in 1950.

His faith in the party was finally shaken and he became a vocal critic after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, after which his eldest son was jailed for attempting to help student protesters flee the mainland.

The son, Lo Hoi-sing, was arrested in Shenzhen in October 1989 for helping dissidents escape via the underground railroad codenamed Operation Yellow Bird. The younger Lo, who had been chief representative at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's Beijing office, was sentenced to five years' jail in Guangdong in 1990. He was freed on parole in 1991, and died aged 61 in 2010 from the combined effects of a lung infection, diabetes and a weak immune system.

His father was noted for helping some of Hong Kong's brightest literary talents. In the 1950s, Lo encouraged Louis Cha Leung-yung and Chen Wentong to start writing the martial arts fiction for which they became famous.

Inspired by a boxing match that became the talk of Macau in 1954, Lo urged Chen, an editor at the paper, to write a martial arts story for serialisation. His novel, under the pen name Liang Yu-sheng, became a huge success.

A year later, Lo serialised the first novel by Cha, editor of the paper's literary supplement. The story gave the paper's circulation a massive boost, and Cha, under the pen name Jin Yong, went on to dominate the sales charts for years. Cha also founded his own newspaper, Ming Pao, in 1959.

Lo helped launch the career of another well-known Hong Kong name. In 1969, he hired a young reporter named Tsang Tak-sing, who had been sentenced to two years in prison for distributing "inflammatory leaflets" during the 1967 riots. Tsang went on to edit Ta Kung Pao before moving into politics as secretary for home affairs, a role in which he has served in since 2007.

Lo Fu is survived by his wife, Wu Shu-san, three sons and a daughter.