President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and 11 other current and past leaders of China mourn passing of Hong Kong literary giant Louis Cha ‘Jin Yong’
- Liaison office director Wang Zhimin visits Cha’s home and relays leaders’ condolences to novelist’s widow May Lam
Thirteen current and former state leaders of China, including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, mourned the passing of Hong Kong literary giant Louis Cha Leung-yung, Beijing’s liaison office in the city said in a statement on Friday night.
Cha, 94, also known by his pen name Jin Yong, died at the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital in Happy Valley with friends and family at his bedside on Tuesday afternoon.
Liaison office director Wang Zhimin visited Cha’s home on Friday night and relayed the leaders’ condolences to the novelist’s widow May Lam Lok-yee, according to the statement.
Other than Xi and Li, vice-premiers Han Zheng and Sun Chunlan, Chinese Communist Party propaganda chief Huang Kunming and former leaders Zhu Rongji, Wen Jiabao, Zhang Dejiang, Li Lanqing, Liu Yandong, Li Yuanchao, Wang Hanbin and Liao Hui also grieved Cha’s death.
Earlier on Friday, the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office published its letter of condolence to Cha’s family, praising the writer as a patriot who “carried morality and justice on his shoulders and created masterpieces with his magic hands”.
“Mr Cha supported the country’s policies of reform and opening up and the principle of ‘one country, two systems’. He partook the drafting of the Basic Law for Hong Kong with great passion, and contributed his political wisdom to design the city’s political system for long-term prosperity and stability,” the letter said.
With well over 100 million copies of his books sold worldwide and countless adaptations, ranging from films to video games, Cha was universally regarded as the most influential Chinese martial arts novelist of the 20th century.
His fame even earned him a meeting in 1981 with paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, who reportedly told him: “We’re already old friends. I’ve read your novels.”
In mainland China, Cha was an honorary member of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles, and honorary vice-president of the Chinese Writers Association.
After China and Britain struck a deal on Hong Kong’s 1997 handover, Cha was appointed by Beijing in 1985 as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee, with the weighty task of drawing up the city’s mini-constitution.
Observers at the time believed he was probably hand-picked for his ability to balance conflicting views. But the widely admired writer stepped into controversy after he co-presented a conservative proposal for the city’s post-1997 political reforms.