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Passings, 2023

We note the passing of many prominent individuals who played some role in U.S.-China affairs, whether in politics, economics or in helping people in one place understand the other.
January 15, 2024
Image with the title "Passings" for an article about US-China figures who died in 2023.

Most included on the list distinguished themselves through their role as leaders, creators or innovators. We have included some, however, who became famous for their violations of the law.

Jeffrey Bader, b. 1945
Bader was a career diplomat, joining the U.S. State Department in 1975. He wasn’t a China specialist then. He had a doctorate in European history and first served in Africa. He developed deep expertise in China, starting in 1977 and served in Taipei, Beijing, Hong Kong and on the China desk in Washington. He helped monitor the pro-democracy protests in 1989 and contributed to the American response to the crackdown. He retired from the government in 2002, but he advised candidate Barack Obama and served as Pres. Obama’s Asia Director on the National Security Council. He was won of the architect’s of the administration’s pivot to Asia. Near the end of his time at the State Department, Bader returned to Africa as ambassador to Namibia. We were fortunate to have him speak at our China’s Growing Pains conference in 2016 and in conversation with Amb. Zhang Ping in 2019.

Chen Wei-ling 陳慧翎, b. 1975
Chen was an accomplished television director. Three of her best known dramas were Year of the Rain (那年,雨不停國 2010), Autumn’s Concerto (下一站,幸福 2009-2010) and Material Queen (拜金女王 2011). She received three Golden Bell (金鐘獎 Taiwan’s Emmy) awards in 2008 for screenwriting, editing and directing and continued earning Golden Bells through 2019. She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2013, but she continued to work between treatments. Five years ago she was interviewed in conjunction with her sci-fi series, Your Child Is Not Your Child (你的孩子不是你的孩子) . It is available on Netflix as On Children. In 2022, Netflix began streaming her show “Mom, Don’t Do That.” She and her longtime producer Sarso Chou (周銓) planned to start filming Wish You Happiness (祝妳幸福) in 2024. That series is based on Chen’s mother’s story.

John Huo Cheng 霍成, b. 1926
Cheng was ordained in 1954. He studied medicine as well as theology and he worked at a clinic and hospital prior to the Cultural Revolution. At that point, he was imprisoned until 1980. He retired from the hospital in 1983 and focused on his religious work. In 1991 the Vatican and Chinese authorities made him the bishop of Fenyang 汾阳, in Shanxi. In 2011, the provincial religious affairs office removed him from his position atop a seminary. He died in office, as the Vatican has difficulty securing Chinese official approval of new appointees.

Chu Yun-han 朱雲漢, b. 1956
A well-known and accomplished political scientist, Chu studied in Taiwan and the United States and taught at National Taiwan University for 36 years. He was a fellow at Academica Sinica. He is best known for leading the team producing the Asian Barometer Survey which began in 2000. He co-authored numerous books, including How East Asians View Democracy (2010) and Democracy in East Asia: A New Century (2013). His two most recent books were The Rise of China and the Reorganization of the Global Order (高思在雲  2015) and The Future of Globalization: Fission vs Fusion (全球化的裂解與再融合 2021). He was president of the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange at the time of his death. A number of institutions came together to remember him.

Isabel Crook, b. 1915
Born in Sichuan to Canadian missionary parents, Crook spent almost her entire life in China. She trained in anthropology and, together with her husband David Crook, she wrote about the process and impact of Communist Party initiated land reform and subsequent movements in a Hebei village (publishing three volumes on Ten Mile Inn, 1959-1979). She and her husband subsequently taught at what was then called the Central Foreign Affairs School. The couple suffered during the Cultural Revolution, him in prison, her detained on campus. He died in 2000. When she was nearly 100, Crook and co-authors published the Sichuan village study she’d begun in the 1940s. In 2019, Xi Jinping bestowed on her the Friendship Medal, China’s highest honor for foreigners.

David Dollar, b. 1954
Dollar was an economist who began his career at UCLA, but moved to the World Bank in 1989. He served as the Bank’s China director from 2004 to 2009. As it coped with the financial crisis, the Obama administration recruited him to serve as its economic and financial emissary to China. He served in that position until 2013, when he joined the Brookings Institution. As the World Bank’s China director, Dollar managed frictions stemming from a 2007 Bank study which estimated that rising levels of pollution were causing hundreds of thousands of premature deaths and that the economic costs of water and air pollution equalled 1-4% of China’s GDP. Dollar was a prolific scholar who wrote for academic and policy journals on a wide variety of issues including development aid, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, efforts to internationalize China’s currency and U.S.-China economic ties. He was the first Brookings scholar to host a podcast, Dollar & Sense, and produced 130 episodes on trade and other issues. Dollar wrote about “Poverty, Inequality and Social Disparities during China’s Economic Reform” for USCI’s first major conference in 2007.

Mark Elvin, b. 1938
Historian Elvin first came to prominence with his The Pattern of the Chinese Past: A Social and Economic Interpretation (1973). He drew heavily upon Japanese scholarship as he sought to explore three big questions: how was China able to recover from disunity and persist; what was the nature and scale of China’s pre-1300 economic revolution; and why China’s Ming and Qing era economy was large and sophisticated but didn’t produce the technological breakthroughs of the Western industrial revolution. Reviewers praised Elvin’s ambition, but were critical of his execution. Many found his conclusions unconvincing, but many found his attention to technology and economics useful in broadening examinations of China’s past. Elvin went on to write other provocative books, including a sweeping environmental history of China, The Retreat of the Elephants (2004). He co-authored the vital Cultural Atlas of China (1998). Elvin taught at the University of Glasgow, Oxford University and Australian National University.

Gao Yaojie 高耀潔, b. 1927
Gao became well-known in 1996 when she went public with her description of AIDS ravaging communities in rural China. Local officials had suppressed news about the tragedy. Gao’s previous complaints within the health bureaucracy had not generated change, so she spoke out on how unsanitary blood plasma collection efforts spread HIV. She launched a newsletter to address the problem and to promote HIV/AIDS prevention. She became involved in efforts to care for children orphaned by the disease.

Gao became a physician in 1953 and spent the bulk of her career working as a gynecologist and professor in Henan. She and her family suffered during the Cultural Revolution. She officially retired about a decade before becoming involved in the campaign to promote HIV/AIDS awareness. Her work attracted attention and she received numerous awards. Gao’s outspokenness irritated officials and in 2007 she was under house arrest. In 2009 she moved to the U.S. She soon testified before the U.S. Congress, noting that others reported the outbreak of AIDS before she did. She argued that only 5% of those with HIV/AIDS had been identified and unsafe blood collection stations continued to exist.

Merle Goldman, b. 1931
Focusing on intellectuals in Chinese history and contemporary society and the struggle for human rights, Goldman was an influential scholar who produced important monographs, but also wrote for major U.S. newspapers and served on the board of Human Rights Watch. She taught at Boston University and was a longtime fellow of Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies. Literary Dissent in Communist China (1967) examined how Mao and his Party restricted the range of ideas that could be expressed and punished those perceived to have pushed beyond those limits. Goldman continued to track how intellectuals endured movements and coped with other challenges, writing and editing a number of other volumes. The last of these, From Comrade to Citizen: The Struggle for Political Rights in China (2005) moved beyond Goldman’s usual focus on intellectuals to look at cyber dissidents, self-educated lawyers and others. We were privileged to have Goldman speak at our Future of U.S.-China Relations conference in 2007.

Hsing Yun 星雲, b. 1927
Born in Jiangsu, Hsing Yun entered monastic life in 1938. He went to Taiwan and subsequently built a large following. Hsing Yun established the Fo Guang Shan 佛光山 order in Kaohsiung. In addition to worship and educational activities, the order has supported charitable service programs. Hsing Yun formally stepped down as head of the order and temple in 1985, but launched the Buddha’s Light International Association to increase outreach to ordinary people.

Hsing Yun’s support for cross-strait reconciliation allowed the order to work in China. He met Xi Jinping several times. Fo Guang Shan is well-established throughout Taiwan and has more than 100 temples in many foreign lands. He told the New York Times in 2017, “I support the leadership… We Buddhists uphold whomever is in charge. Buddhists don’t get involved in politics.” One of the first, Hsi Lai Si 西来寺 was built in a suburb of Los Angeles in 1988. In 1996, Hsing Yun met U.S. Vice President Al Gore at the temple. The Clinton-Gore campaign received donations from some attendees, some of these were found to have been illegal contributions. The temple is home to the University of the West, one of Fo Guang Shan’s 16 colleges. In Taiwan, Hsing Yun endorsed Nationalist Party (KMT) candidates, but was respected by leaders of other parties. President Tsai Ing-wen and others attended his memorial service.

Jiang Ping 江平, b. 1930
Jiang was a leading Chinese legal scholar, whom the New York Times called the “conscience of China’s legal world.” He received his legal education in the Soviet Union. After returning to China, he was labelled a rightist in the 1950s and wasn’t able to teach until he was politically rehabilitated after Mao Zedong’s death. During this time, a train crushed one of his legs. Once he returned to the China University of Political Science and Law he became a popular professor. He became the school’s president in 1988, but was removed after student-led protests in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere in 1989. He had called on the government to negotiate with the students. He remained a faculty member and continued to call for continued reform. Jiang's university web page highlights his leading role in drafting China's civil code.

Chinese journalist Wang Zichen quoted Jiang’s autobiography (published in 2010) where Jiang insisted on international standards for what was meant by the rule of law. He wrote, “I believe that the most basic elements in the rule of law spirit are democracy and freedom.” Jiang noted he had participated in protests supporting democracy and the rule of law prior to the establishment of the PRC and, I think, building a rule-of-law nation and promoting the spirit of the rule of law, democracy, and freedom are still the goals we pursue today.”

Jiang Yanyong 蒋彦永, b. 1931
A military physician, Jiang received wide attention in 2003 when he spoke out about SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome, caused by a coronavirus). Jiang was outraged that the government was downplaying the extent to which the disease had taken hold and sent a letter to Chinese and then foreign media outlets. Only the foreign outlets published the revelations. Jiang told Time’s Susan Jakes, "If I were an ordinary person and started to run a fever.  I wouldn't know to go to a hospital. I could be severely ill before I realized it was more than a cold." At the time, Jiang was chief surgeon at the army’s main hospital in Beijing. The disease emerged in 2002 and ultimately took over 700 lives on three continents. Jiang’s courage was recognized abroad with human rights awards.

Speaking out became a habit for Jiang. In 2004, near the fifteenth anniversary of the prodemocracy demonstations in Tiananmen Square and elsewhere, Jiang wrote a public letter denouncing the violent suppression of the protests. He was jailed for 49 days.

Henry Kissinger, b. 1923
Kissinger, of course, was at the center of the early 1970s rapprochement between the U.S. and China. Pres. Richard Nixon made him is National Security Advisor and ran major initiatives through Kissinger’s White House office rather than the State Department. Kissinger travelled secretly to China in July 1971, which led to the agreement for Nixon to visit. He helped set up that “week that changed the world,” and continued, as Pres. Gerald Ford’s Secretary of State to nurture the relationship. Out of office, he produced books, served corporations entering China and continued to advise presidents. He made over one hundred trips to China, the last time as Xi Jinping’s guest in July 2023, 52 years after his first journey.

Lao Rongzh i劳荣枝, b. 1974
Lao was convicted of murder, kidnapping and robbery. Her case attracted national attention. She and Fa Ziying 法子英 killed seven people among other crimes between 1996 and 1999. Fa was captured in 1999 and was executed later that year. Lao evaded capture until 2019 when police, aided by facial recognition software arrested her in Xiamen. Her defense was that she had been forced by Fa to help him commit the crimes. She was convicted in 2021 and executed last month.


Coco Lee 李玟, b. 1975
Lee was a pop star who suffered from depression. She passed away while in a coma following a suicide attempt. Lee grew up in Hong Kong and California and enjoyed great success singing in Mandarin, Cantonese and English. Her Mandarin album CoCo Lee, was the best-selling album in Asia in 1996. Her English albums included Brave Enough to Love in 1995 and Exposed in 2005. By the end of the decade she was the voice of Mulan in the Mandarin version of the animated film. She sang A Love Before Time for the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was nominated for an Oscar. She performed the 2008 Summer Olympics theme song Forever Friends with Su Nan. She appeared on Chinese singing reality shows in recent years. She was involved in campaigns to promote the efforts of UNICEF and UNAIDS and to combat cancer. Her passing prompted much discussion of the need for greater awareness of mental health issues.

Li Keqiang, 李克强, b. 1955
Li only stepped down as China’s premier after ten years in March 2023. An Anhui native and the son of a county official, Li joined the Communist Party in 1976 as a sent-down youth. He learned English and studied at Beijing University. Li served in the leadership of the Communist Youth League, where he was a protégé of the future CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao. He then gained experience running Henan and Liaoning provinces before being elevated to the Politburo in 2007 and being made vice-premier in 2008. Though number two in the party hierarchy, Li didn’t have the authority that normally belonged to the head of government. Trained in economics, he sometimes called for letting markets allocate resources and opportunities. In the picture below, his mentor Hu Jintao is guided from the party’s national congress in November 2022, other officials stare ahead as Hu pauses to pat Li on the arm.

Li Wenjun 李文俊, b. 1930
Li translated the novels of William Faulkner and others into Chinese and also produced a Faulkner biography and a history of American literature. His Faulkner translations included The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Go Down, Moses, and Absalom, Absalom! Li told China Social Sciences Today that challenges in translating Faulkner include his nonlinear style, multiple interwoven narratives, and just the length of his sentences. He said that Absalom, Absalom! nearly ended his life as he had a heart attack upon finishing it. He also translated works by Frances Hodgson Burnett and Franz Kafka. Li edited the journal World Literature 1988 to 1993. He received the Translators Association of China lifetime achievement award in 2011.

Li Yining 厉以宁, b. 1930
Economist Li is celebrated as one of the academic heroes of China’s reform and opening era. He pushed for policies that allowed for the expansion of China’s private sector and encouraged the establishment of the country’s stock exchanges. For that he was known as “Mr. Stock Market” (李股份).  Li studied chemistry at Nanjing University, hoping to work in industry. The university closed in 1949 and Li worked as an accountant. A friend helped him apply for the Peking University entrance exam. He succeeded in gaining entrance in economics. Peking University became his academic home for decades. Many of Li’s students became influential. One was Premier Li Keqiang (see above), who earned a doctorate under Prof. Li and visited him in the hospital in February 2023.

Like others, Li was sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution. He returned to the university in 1976. He believed reforming ownership was key to stimulating the economy and pushed for it. PKU says Li argued “the real transition of the Chinese economy all rested on enterprises having the right to operate independently and the obligation to bear operational risks.” Later he pushed to allow farmers to own land as a step towards eradicating China’s rural-urban divide. In 2014 he said, “The situation now is different. All the easy reforms are done and the rest are tough.” He produced a number of works, including Cultural Economics (2020).

Lu Yuanjiu   陆元九, b. 1920
Lu was a physicist who worked in both the United States and China. He earned his undergraduate degree in wartime China and his doctorate at MIT. He became a research fellow at MIT and then worked at Ford. He returned to China in 1956, assuming a leadership position in automation at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Like many, he was sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution, but his time there was relatively short. Lu joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1982. He carried out leading work in gyroscopes and inertial navigation and is credited with greatly advancing China’s capabilities in these areas. Lu helped design and build China’s first satellite in 1970. In 2021, at the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party, Lu was one of 29 party members awarded the “July 1 Medal,” the party’s highest honor.

Doug Merwin, b. 1939
Merwin was born in Beijing to missionary parents, they left China in 1949. He studied Chinese and Korean literature and languages at Columbia University. He was a key publisher of academic works on China, first at M.E. Sharpe and East Gate Press and later at his own Merwin Asia. In a post to H-Asia, Charles Hayford quoted historian Josh Fogel, “I worked with Doug over the course of 40 years: 4 vols of edited work and 8 vols of translation. He was the easiest editor I have ever met, a total mentsh. Quiet, unaffecting, courteous. He was especially happy … to publish work in the Sino-Japanese field that I was trying to encourage….for 40 years and three publishers. I miss him already.”

Tang Xiao-ou, b. 1968
Tang was an accomplished computer scientist who founded SenseTime, a leading developer of facial recognition and artificial intelligence technologies. He graduated from one of China’s top universities, the University of Science and Technology and subsequently came to the U.S. where he earned degrees at the University of Rochester and MIT. He became a professor at Chinese University of Hong Kong. While there he and Xu Li launched SenseTime. Tang’s share of the company when it went public in 2021 was worth $3.4 billion. In 2019 SenseTime was among the Chinese firms blacklisted by the U.S. because their products aided the repression of Muslims in Xinjiang.

Teng Rujun 滕汝骏, b. 1946
Teng graduated from the Central Academy of Drama during the Cultural Revolution. He became a prominent actor in his forties, playing a key roles in Red Sorghum (紅高粱 1987), Beiyang Navy (北洋水師 1992), Roaring Across the Horizon (横空出世 1999), Postman in the Mountains (那山那人那狗 1999) and other films. He received the Golden Rooster Award for his performance in Hou Jianqi’s Postman in the Mountains. Health problems limited his work in recent years.


Wang Zhiliang 王智量, b. 1928
Wang was an important bridge between the Soviet Union and, later, Russia and China. He was a leading translator who translated more than thirty novels. He translated works by Leo Tolstoy (Anna Karenina), Alexander Pushkin (Eugene Onegin) and others. He studied at Peking University and later taught there before moving to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He was labelled a rightist in 1958 and was sent to the Northwest. He later slipped away and went to his family in Shanghai. His former supervisor helped him get Shanghai household registration. He worked in a factory, but continued his translation work in his free time. He only returned to academia after Mao's death. He taught at East China Normal University.  In addition to his translation work, Wang published a novel based on his experiences in Gansu as well as works on Russian literature as well as essays and vignettes. The Russian government recognized his work with the Pushkin Medal in 1999. The Translators Association of China gave him a lifetime achievement award.

Wei Wei 韋偉, b. 1922
Born Miao Mengying 缪孟英, actress Wei is best known for her role as Zhou Yuwen in the 1948 Fei Mu (費穆) film Spring in a Small Town (小城之春). The film is now recognized as a classic. It was Wei’s third film. She moved to Hong Kong and worked steadily until the 1960s.  In the 1990s she returned to acting. Her last film, at age 90, was The Assassins (铜雀台).




Wu Zunyou 吴尊友, b. 1963
Wu was the chief epidemiologist at China’s Center for Disease Control. Prior to that he headed China’s National Center for AIDS/STD Control. In that position he created outreach to sex worker programs, established China’s first needle exchange program and launched the country’s first opioid replacement program. Wu was involved in the fights against SARS and MERS. He led the scientific evaluation of covid-19’s transmission and spread. Wu earned his medical degree and master’s degree at Anhui Medical College. He later earned a doctorate in public health at UCLA.  In recognition of his distinguished work, Wu numerous awards, including a UNAIDS Gold Medal and the World Health Organization’s Nelson Mandela Award for Health Promotion.

As the covid-19 pandemic unfolded in 2020, Wu joined a USCI/U.S.-China Heartland Association panel discussion on “The Future of Public Health and Global Collaboration.” He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2021. Foreign media reported that Wu wrote internal reports critical of how local governments implemented the dynamic zero-covid policy. He complained that local policies had “no scientific basis” and caused the social discontent.

Yan Mingfu 阎明复, b. 1931
Yan’s father was a Communist intelligence officer during the civil war and Yan studied Russian in Harbin. He joined the Communist Party in 1949 and eventually served as an interpreter for Chinese officials, including Mao Zedong, in meetings with Soviet leaders. During the Cultural Revolution Yan and his father were both removed from their duties and the elder Yan passed away soon after. Yan was eventually released from prison and he returned to government service. He held important positions. By 1989 and the Tiananmen protests, Yan was serving in the Party’s secretariat under General Secretary Zhao Ziyang. In this capacity he met with student leaders. With the crushing of the protests and the removal of Zhao, Yan slipped from public view. He returned in 1991 in the Ministry of Civil Affairs. He then became head of a government-sponsored NGO, the China Charity Federation.  In 2015, Yan was interviewed by Care for Children about its work in China.

Yang Bing-yi 楊秉彝, b. 1927
Yang and his wife Lai Pen-mei賴盆妹founded the best known chain of dumpling restaurants, Din Tai Fung 鼎泰豐 in 1958. Originally from Shanxi, Yang went to Taiwan in 1948. Din Tai Fung originally sold cooking oil and soup dumplings, but shifted to a focus on food. Its dumplings generated a passionate following. In 1993, Din Tai Fung was included in a New York Times piece on top-notch tables. The chain arrived in Los Angeles in 2000. A reviewer for the New York Times praised the Shanghai branch in 2007. One of the Hong Kong branches began earning a Michelin star in 2009. There are now more than 170 restaurants across the globe. Yang’s sons have been active in the business, including Yang Ji-hua 楊紀華who took over as CEO in the 1990s.California State University, Pomona Professor Haiming Liu featured the restaurant in his book on Chinese food in the United States, highlighting the tight control the family exerted over the ingredients of the signature xiaolongbao 小籠包 dumplings. Below is a photo with Yang in front of their first restaurant.


















Yang Yi 杨苡  (Yang Jingru 杨静如), b. 1919
Yang and her siblings grew up in a wealthy banking family. She became a distinguished translator as did her elder brother Yang Xianyi 杨宪益. Her elder sister Yang Minru 杨敏如became a professor of classical Chinese literature at Beijing Normal University. Yang Yi’s best known translation was of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights (1955). She revised it in 1980 (after it and other foreign literature was suppressed during the Cultural Revolution). The first printing of the revised edition sold 350,000 copies. It was reprinted 26 times during the decade and garnered several awards.

As a teen, Yang Yi struck up a seven-decade friendship with Ba Jin 巴金 who encouraged her interest in writing and translation. Decades later, she published an edited and annotated collection of his letters to her. Other literary translations included poems of William Blake and a novel about the sculptor Rodin. She published several collections of poetry for children. One poem “Do your own things yourself” was received a national Outstanding Children’s Literature Award. Her work and teaching at Nanjing Normal University was interrupted by the Cultural Revolution when she criticized for works such as Wuthering Heights and correspondence with Ba Jin. She also published a collection of poems she and her brother liked and translated. Her final work was an oral autobiography covering her century of life and the many prominent people she had known. Flipping through the book, she told a reporter for The Paper, “My mother should be satisfied with this book.”

Ed Tse-chun Young 杨志成, b. 1931
Young probably brought more Chinese tales and artistic approaches to American children than any other creator. He grew up in China and came to the U.S. to study in 1951. While working in advertising, he illustrated The Mean Mouse and Other Mean Stories. It won an award and launched him on a career which yielded one hundred books. He’s best known for his Caldecott Medal winning books, The Emperor and the Kite (1967, by Jane Yolen) and Lon Po Po, a Chinese version of the Little Red Riding Hood story, and Seven Blind Mice, both of which he wrote and illustrated. He also wrote of his experiences in wartime Shanghai in The House Baba Built (click for a BBC film about Young and the book) and created a scroll-like reading experience in Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China (click for a Teaching Books video).

Yu Zhenwu 于振武, b. 1931
Yu was one of the first People’s Liberation Army pilots. He joined the army in 1947. The first flight of China’s first domestically-developed jet aircraft crashed in 1958. Yu was called upon to pilot the second test (video) . He was the second pilot, in 1958, to fly China’s first jet aircraft (video). He later headed the air force’s pilot training program and became an alternate member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee. He was promoted to general in 1988 and was commander of the air force from 1994 to 1996. Yu broke off a visit to the U.S. in May 1995 because of the decision to allow Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui to visit, Cornell University, his alma mater. The State Department spokesperson at the time, Nicholas Burns, is now America's ambassador to Beijing.

Yuán Rénguó 袁仁国, b. 1956
Yuan spent five decades working for Moutai, China’s iconic spirits producer. From Mao and Nixon to Xi and Obama, Chinese and American leaders toasted each other with Moutai. In 1974, Kissinger told Deng Xiaoping, "I think if we drink enough Moutai, we can solve anything.” Deng responded that they would increase production of it.

Yuan headed Kweichow Moutai for almost two decades before being removed as part of China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. Yuan was ensnared as part of an investigation of Guizhou and Gansu leaders. Yuan was arrested in 2019 and in 2021 received a life sentence for accepting bribes totaling US$17 million. Yuan reported provided the relatives of officials with lucrative Moutai distribution rights. State media reported that he confessed to crimes the authorities weren’t aware of and returned some of the money he had taken. His successor Gao Weidong 高卫东 was also arrested for corruption. In addition to cash, Yuan received over one thousand “gifts,” including gold, watches, luxury bags, and jewelry. The five kg gold ding below, inscribed with “liquor champion Renguo” was one of those items.

Zhou Lingzhao 周令钊, b. 1919
Zhou was a painter who created the first portrait of Mao to hang at Tiananmen and who also designed propaganda posters, stamps and bank notes. He was the art director for several national parades. He played a role in creating several national symbols. He worked at the Central Academy of Fine Arts for decades. He had three weeks to complete the huge Mao portrait for the formal launch of the People’s Republic in 1949. At Zhou Enlai’s direction, he and his wife worked late the night before to remove “serve the people” (为人民服务) from the painting. At 99 he designed China’s “year of the dog” lunar new year stamps. And the academy marked his 100th birthday with a major exhibition on his contributions. Earlier, the national art museum hosted an exhibition of his paintings and murals. Below is a photo showing Zhou's massive 1949 portrait.