Monday, January 28, 2013

People of 1989: Xu Liangying (许良英)

Born in 1920, Xu Liangying spent his formative years during various wars. While he was enthusiastically devoting himself to the efforts of Communist revolution, he nonetheless kept up with his studies and became a well trained physicist and historian. In 1957, he quickly fallen victim to the "Anti-Rightists" movement and was expelled from a university job to his hometown for farm labor. It was in those dark years he managed to translate the entire Collected Works of Albert Einstein from English. The Chinese version was published in 1976, at the end of the Culture Revolution and became an instant sensation.

Near the end of 1986, Xu Liangying, along with Liu Binyan and Fang Lizhi, called for an open symposium in remembrance of the 30-year anniversary of the "Anti-Rightists" movement. After the eruption of a student movement, Fang Lizhi, Liu Binyan, and Wang Ruowang were expelled from the Party. Xu Liangying avoided that fate only by a mistaken identity in the official report. Undeterred, he turned himself in to the authority as a protest.

In 1988, Xu Liangying became an active supporter and participant in the "Democracy Salon" organized by Liu Gang at Peking University. He was also very close to active students such as Wang Dan.

In early 1989, shortly after Fang Lizhi published his open letter to Deng Xiaoping, Xu Liangying organized many scientists and educators to co-sign a supporting open letter. However, he did not actively participating in the ensuring student movement, partly due to his heart conditions. Nonetheless, he was closely monitored by authorities during the entire movement. He refused to escape abroad after the massacre and stayed in Beijing, making every effort to help victims such as Fang Zheng.

Xu Liangying passed away in Beijing on January 28, 2013. He was 93.

People of 1989