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Thu, Feb 24, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Farewell to a revered publisher

The late Liu Shao-tang, founder and publisher of the 38-year-old monthly magazine 'Biographical Literature,' was given a heartfelt goodbye at a funeral service yesterday, as historians paid respects to a man they said contributed much to the study of modern Chinese history. As staff reporter Monique Chu found, Mayor Ma Ying-jeou was just one among many who praised his life's work.

By Monique Chu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Those attending the funeral of Liu Shao-tang, the founder of the magazine Biographical Literature, pay their respects yesterday, in front of a picture of the late publisher himself.

PHOTO: CHEN CHENG-CHANG, TAIPEI TIMES

Liu Shao-tang (劉紹唐), founder and publisher of the monthly magazine Biographical Literature (傳記文學), was eulogized yesterday during a funeral service in Taipei. Liu died on Feb. 10 of lung cancer, aged 80.

Historians that came to the service said Liu's efforts in collecting first-hand historical records on Chinese history from 1911 to the present day helped fill the gaps in official accounts of the same period.

"Liu has been dubbed as the head of the `unofficial Academia Historica,' and his contribution to the study of modern Chinese history is of paramount importance," said Chang Yu-fa (張玉法), a research fellow at the Institute of Modern History at Academic Sinica.

Pouring rains and Chinese classical music greeted long lines of mourners who attended the service, held in the Chinghsing Hall at Taipei's First Funeral Parlor yesterday morning. Among those attending were officials, retired officials, scholars, and Huang's relatives and friends.

Two of Liu's old friends -- Liang Su-jung (梁肅戎), former Legislative Yuan speaker, and Pok Shau-fu (卜少夫), a veteran newsman -- gave their eulogies. Also invited to express his thoughts on Liu was Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

"I didn't see this occasion merely as an official engagement in which I as the Mayor of Taipei came to pay tribute to the founder of a monthly magazine published in Taipei. I am here to pay my respects to someone who has devoted his life to the development of culture," said Ma.

In addition to praising Liu's devotion to the monthly magazine for the past 38 years, Ma expressed his own personal fondness of the publication.

"During a time when extracurricular reading materials were relatively scarce here in Taiwan, the magazine gave me an opportunity to probe the life histories of important figures in modern Chinese history. It served as the best of learning materials for me," he added.

Liu gained fame long before founding the magazine in 1962. In 1951, he published a book titled Out of Red China (紅色中國的叛徒) in which he recounted his experiences as a reporter at the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) Xinhua News Agency, and his days in the CCP's People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Liu also described why it was he decided to leave the Communist Party after one year within the organization.

Since publication of the book, Liu was seen as a well-known anti-communist writer.

The US Information Service (USIS) later translated the book into more than ten languages as anti-communist propaganda, during a time when containment of communism was a mainstream doctrine in the West.

For historians, however, it is Liu's endeavor to found the magazine, focusing on biographic writing, that made him a key figure in preserving a record of modern Chinese history.

For this, Liu won a 1996 National Literary Award (國家文藝獎), conferred by the Council for Cultural Affairs.

Liu founded the magazine in Taiwan in June 1962, at the age of 40. It coincided with an era when publishing contemporary history could land an author in jail.

Until this year, the magazine has been published uninterruptedly for a total of 452 issues, relying on a single editor, no advertising revenue, and no subsidies. Cultural critics often described the magazine's longevity as "a miracle" in Taiwan's publishing industry.

Chang said Liu's decision to launch the magazine was influenced by Hu Shih (胡適), the great thinker. "Hu was an advocate of biographic writing. He believed that everybody should write their own stories to serve as eyewitnesses to their times. And Liu carried out Hu's dream," Chang said.

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