Famed Eng­lish pro­fes­sor dies aged 99

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY

Li Pei, a lin­guist and wife of Guo Yonghuai, one of the found­ing fa­thers of China’s atomic bomb, hy­dro­gen bomb and satel­lite, passed away in Bei­jing on Thurs­day, ac­cord­ing to the Uni­ver­sity of Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences.

The uni­ver­sity, where Li served as a pro­fes­sor of Eng­lish, re­leased an obit­u­ary on Thurs­day, say­ing that Li, 99, died of disease in the early morn­ing.

Born in Jiangsu prov­ince on Dec 20, 1917, Li was ad­mit­ted by Pek­ing Uni­ver­sity to study eco­nom­ics in 1936. She then stud­ied at Cor­nell Uni­ver­sity in the United States in 1947.

She mar­ried Guo in 1948 and re­turned to China to­gether with her hus­band and only daugh­ter in 1956.

Af­ter re­turn­ing, Li worked in Zhong­guan­cun, which has be­come a high-tech and in­no­va­tion hub dubbed “the Sil­i­con Val­ley of China”. Li par­tic­i­pated in the es­tab­lish­ment of hos­pi­tals and West­ern cookie shops, and was re­garded as one of the most im­por­tant in­au­gu­ra­tors of Zhong­guan­cun, the uni­ver­sity said.

In 1961, Li started teach­ing Eng­lish lan­guage at the Uni­ver­sity of Science and Tech­nol­ogy of China and trans­ferred to the uni­ver­sity’s grad­u­ate school in 1978. The grad­u­ate school was re­named the Uni­ver­sity of Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences, where Li worked un­til she re­tired in 1987.

Af­ter re­tir­ing, Li es­tab­lished the Zhong­guan­cun Fo­rum and in­vited em­i­nent schol­ars from many fields, in­clud­ing his­to­rian Zi Zhongyun and econ­o­mist Li Yin­ing, to give lec­tures.

Li helped to ar­range a to­tal of more than 600 fo­rums from 1998 to 2011 at Zhong­guan­cun, and she was given af­fec­tion­ate nick­names such as “the pret­ti­est rose of the Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences” and “a bea­con of Zhong­guan­cun”.

Li had a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing men­tally strong. She was iso­lated and in­spected for more than six years dur­ing the “cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (1966-76). Her hus­band died in an air­plane crash in 1968, while her only daugh­ter died of disease in 1997.

Li once said to stu­dents of the Uni­ver­sity of Chi­nese Acad­emy of Sciences: “Life still goes on what­ever dif­fi­cul­ties we have en­coun­tered. So we should con­tinue to live with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude; we should learn to con­quer dif­fi­cul­ties, rather than be conquered”.

The obit­u­ary said Li de­voted her life to ed­u­ca­tion and nur­tured groups of out­stand­ing young peo­ple. “Her death is a big loss to ed­u­ca­tion in China,” the uni­ver­sity said in the obit­u­ary.

A farewell cer­e­mony will be held at Bei­jing Babaoshan Ceme­tery on Jan 17.

Li Pei, lin­guist

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