Sunday, January 18, 2009

Ge Yang Passed Away

Ge Yang has passed away this morning at a hospital in Flushing, New York. She was ninety-three years old.

Ge Yang, whose real name was Shu Peihua (树佩华), joined the Chinese Communist Party in her teenager years and had a remarkable career as a journalist during the revolutionary years. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, she served as the head of the Shanghai branch of the official Xinhua Press. Later, she was the editor-in-chief of the liberal magazine New Observer (新观察). During the anti-Rightists campaign and Cultural Revolution, she was relegated to perform manual labor for twenty one years.

On April 22, 1989, Ge Yang attended Hu Yaobang's funeral inside the Great Hall of People when thousands of students protested outside. She was deeply moved by the scene and wrote a poem:
One land is split
By a wall of brute force.
On one side lies an iceberg, chilling those who dwell there.
And on the other a warm-water sea.
Here lies Yaobang's body,
And there his soul.
From there we all came;
If there is no "there" there wouldn't be any "here."
Ge Yang left China in that May for a conference in America. Like many other intellectuals in that conference, she chose to remain in the USA as an exile after the massacre. She was interviewed for the documentary Gate of Heavenly Peace. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease and other health problems in recent years.

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