Wed, Apr 10, 2002 - Page 4 News List

Nation mourns death of `China Times' founder

ADVOCATING HIS IDEALS After Yu Chi-chung passed away yesterday, Taiwan reflected on his impact on the press and the transition to democracy from martial law

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Yu Chi-chung, founder of the China Times, died of liver cancer at age 93 on Monday morning. On Oct. 2, 2000, the 50th anniversary of the paper, Yu personally wrote a note encouraging his colleagues, telling them to have great aspirations all the time.

PHOTO COURTESY OF CHINA TIMES

The Founder of the China Times, (中國時報) Yu Chi-chung (余紀忠), a legendary figure in the nation's media industry, passed away yesterday morning. He was 93.

Dubbed "the oldest worker in Taiwan," Yu announced his retirement last October because of his declining health, passing the paper's management onto his son Albert Yu (余建新). Even so, he remained the true head of the paper since its establishment in 1950 until the day he died.

In 1996, Yu was diagnosed with liver cancer, and since then he had been afflicted with the disease. Regardless of two major operations and numerous treatments, his health continued to deteriorate.

Yu was the owner of three newspapers, six magazines and three cultural organizations. However, his death left his lifelong wishes unfulfilled.

Heritage and home

Born and raised in China, Yu had long expected to see Taiwan united with China. Had that happened, he would have expanded his media enterprise to China. But neither of these wishes was accomplished during his lifetime.

Many in political and media circles yesterday paid their tribute to Yu and sent their condolences to his family.

They considered Yu's death a great loss to society because of his contribution to Taiwan's democratic development and his courage to stand up for social justice.

Employees at the China Times have lost their spiritual leader, and the image of the elderly man walking slowly into the office every day has become thing of the past.

Yu lived through many significant historic events both in China and in Taiwan.

He was born on April 16, 1910 in Jiangsu province, China.

Witnessing the rampant warlords in China at that time, Yu, during his teenage years, became a student activist in an attempt to save the country.

After earning a bachelor's degree in history from National Central University in Nanking, he continued his education at the London School of Economics and Political Science. But his studies were interrupted after the eruption of World War II. He returned to China to join the army.

Yu then moved to Taiwan in 1949 with the KMT after the communists took over China.

Serving the country

In 1950, the 40-year-old Yu decided to serve the country by founding a newspaper. He established a paper called The Commercial and Industrial Daily News (徵信新聞). The paper was renamed as China Times in 1968. In 1978, the Commercial Times (工商時報) was first published and the China Times Express (中時晚報), an evening newspaper, was launched in 1988.

"The reason why I decided to start the newspaper was to publish the truth, which can endure trial by public opinion," Yu said three years ago at the celebration of his 90th birthday.

Under Yu's management, the paper quickly defeated its rivals in its early years as a result of Yu's successful marketing strategies. It has been rated one of the three most influential newspapers in Taiwan.

Advocating his ideals to achieve democracy and freedom in Taiwan, Yu was most acclaimed for his championing of the re-election of the legislature, the abolishment of martial law (1987), and the relaxation of the ban to found political parties and newspapers (1988).

When the DPP was established in 1986, the China Times was the only newspaper to have comprehensively covered the event.

A driving force

"Despite his allegiance to the KMT, he was liberal and had been a driving force behind the nation's democratization in the late 1980s -- the years before late president and KMT chairman Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) died," said a senior journalist.

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