Wang Fanxi Funeral Committee
16th January 2003
16 January 2003
下午1:00 遺體運往 Otley Road, Lawnswood 火葬場
死者家屬致悼詞 - 薜豐
成令方悼文 - 由黃紫紅宣讀
下午 1:25 禮成
地址: 6 Bingley Street, Leeds LS3
12:30pm Cortege leaving Headingley Co-Operative Funeral Service, North Lane, Leeds LS6
1:00pm Funeral Service at Lawnswood Cemetery, Otley Road, Leeds LS16
A minute silence
Wang Fanxi and Chinese Community – Bobby Chan
Message from Mr Wang’s family – Xue Feng
Readings – Bobby Chan
Greeting from Fourth International
Message from Shing Lingfang – Din Wong
Obituary – Prog Gregor Benton
2:00 to 3:30pm
Lunch or Drink at Maxi’s Restaurant
Address: 6 Bingley Street, Leeds LS3
南京大學 奚金芳 敬挽
Wang Fanxi Obituary Din Wong
“I have spent the greater part of my life and effort in the struggle for socialism and against Stalinism. “ – Wang Fan-hsi 1907-2002
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, many on the left greeted the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe and the rise of US “New World Order” with dismay and despondency. But not Wang Fan-hsi, a life-long Trotskyist and Chinese communist revolutionary, who passed away in Leeds, England, on 30 Dec 2002, aged 95.
For Wang, the collapse of Stalinism was a vindication of his opposition to both the theory and practice of Stalinism, first in the Soviet Union and then in China. It was Trotskyists like Wang who consistently came out against the degeneration of the Soviet state, against its bureaucratic dictatorship and who exposed as an illusion the Stalinist idea of “building socialism in one country”.
Born in 1907 in Hsia-shih (between Shanghai and Hangchow), Wang became politicised in high school at a momentous turning point in Chinese history - the May Fourth movement. As a student at Peking University in 1925, Wang Fan-hsi joined the Chinese Communist Party, at a time when the CCP was under instruction from the Comintern to subordinate itself to the Nationalist Party (Kuomintang KMT) and Chiang Kai-shek in a fatally opportunist interpretation of the united front tactic.
After the betrayal and massacre of workers in Canton and Shanghai by Chiang Kai-shek in 1926-7, Wang Fan-hsi was sent to Wuhan, the power base of the “Left” Nationalist leader, Wang Ching-wei with whom the Chinese Communist Party, under orders from Moscow, now made an alliance. He watched with growing unease as the Party once again agreed to the surrender of arms by trade unionists and workers’ militia to the local garrison as a mark of their “loyalty” to the nationalist government, just as they had in Shanghai.
In 1928, Wang Fan-hsi arrived in Moscow for military training at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East, then in the thick of Stalin’s campaign against Trotsky and the Left Opposition. Persuaded by Trotsky’s analysis of the failure of the 2nd revolution, he joined, and soon became one of the organisers of, the clandestine group of Chinese Left Oppositionists.
When he returned to China in 1929, Wang worked as an aide to Chou En-lai in Shanghai until he was expelled from the CCP. He then worked for the unification of the 4 opposition groups to overcome their divisions regarding the nature of the coming revolution and the slogan for a constituent assembly. Unfortunately, soon after he was elected with Chen Tu-hsiu to the leadership of the unified opposition group, Wang was arrested and jailed for 3 years by the Nationalists. Not deterred by this, he returned to Shanghai and, in collaboration with the South African communist Frank Glass and the American Harold Isaacs, threw his energy into rebuilding the Trotskyist organisation and publishing theoretical and political periodicals.
Just before the outbreak of war with the Japanese, he was kidnapped by KMT special service agents and endured another jail term. Under interrogation, despite torture, Wang refused to divulge the names and addresses of his comrades and was put in solitary confinement. This period, described by Wang as the darkest days of his life, was cut short only by the action of a sympathetic jailer who unlocked his cell before fleeing from the approaching Japanese army.
Back in Japanese occupied Shanghai, Wang and his comrades resumed political activity under very difficult circumstances and at great risks to their lives. Their efforts centred on education, propaganda, writing, translation and the publication of Trotsky’s work, including The History of the Russian Revolution. Just weeks before his assassination, Trotsky wrote of this, “The day I learned that my History of the Russian Revolution was to be published in Chinese was a holiday for me…”
This clandestine political activity continued in Shanghai throughout the war years. When the Japanese surrendered in 1945, the Trotskyists were able, despite a split in their ranks and a ban by the KMT government, to take some advantage of the situation in the cities where the CCP’s concentration on the countryside had left a virtual vacuum in the leadership of the urban working classes.
When a CCP military victory seemed certain, however, Wang was sent to Hong Kong to set up a new co-ordinating centre. Un-welcomed by the British, he was deported to Macau where he stayed until he came to England in 1975. His comrades in China were rounded up in 1952 and the last of them, Cheng Ch’ao-lin, one of Wang’s closest comrade, was not released until 27 years later.
In Macau, having lost his family, relatives, comrades and friends, Wang recollected his part in the Chinese revolution and reflected on the defeat of the Chinese Trotskyist movement in his memoirs, which have now been translated and published in English, French, German and Japanese. He kept a critical watch on events in China and continued to publish his writing which included translations of Trotsky’s works, studies on Mao Tse-tung’s thoughts and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. He also wrote several plays.
Despite years of hand to mouth existence, perilous threats to his life and prison terms that were most injurious to his health, Wang was unshaken in his political beliefs. The terms of his exile in Britain did not allow him to be politically active, yet he kept up extensive political correspondence with revolutionaries around the world and, ever forward-looking, he encouraged and inspired, a new generation of radical Chinese youth in Hong Kong and Britain in the seventies and eighties.
With the recent partial rehabilitation of Chen Tu-hsiu in China, Wang’s Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary and a new edition of his Study on the Thoughts of Mao have also now been published, although with restricted availability, in China. He was also very gratified to learn that some of his work is available on the Web, his only regret being that he was too old to learn how to use a computer.
If the downfall of Stalinism vindicated his commitment to the programme of Trotskyism, the emergence of a new workers’ movement in China and of the anti-capitalist movement globally, confirmed his continuing political optimism and enthusiasm. Undimmed and an internationalist till his last, he was still enquiring about the progress of the anti-war and anti-capitalist movements even in his very last days. A modest and un-embittered comrade, generous and scrupulously fair to others in the Chinese Trotskyist movement with different views, his memory, and his example, will continue to inspire us all.
Wang is survived by his wife, at least two of his children, and some grandchildren, all except one are now in China
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Wang Fanxi (1907-2002), an obituary
On December 30, 2002, the Chinese Trotskyist leader Wang Fanxi died in Leeds of heart failure, aged 95. Born in Xiashi near Hangzhou in 1907, he joined the Chinese Communist party (CCP) in 1925, abandoning his literature studies at Beijing University for the revolution. In 1931, he was expelled from the CCP and helped set up the Left Opposition led by Chen Duxiu, the CCP’s founder and a giant of modern Chinese thought and letters. He and the Trotskyists spent much of the 1930s in Chiang Kai-shek’s gaols. In 1949, when the Communists set up their regime in Beijing, his comrades sent him (much against his will) to Hong Kong, to act as their external link while they continued the fight in China for workers’ democracy and socialism worldwide. The colonial authorities evicted him from his “safe place” even before his comrades’ arrest on the mainland in 1952. (Some stayed locked up for the next 27 years.) In 1975 he fled his second sanctuary in Macao, where Communist agents were plotting to spirit him across the border. He went on invitation to Leeds, where he lived until his death.
Wang was one of hundreds of young Chinese borne into radical politics by the New Culture movement, which peaked on May 4, 1919, in a campaign of protest against China’s betrayal by the Versailles Peace Conference. Like May Fourth’s leader Chen Duxiu, he continued to view internationalism and democracy as indispensable ingredients of Communist society, even after their extinction in the Stalinised CCP. An accomplished author who contributed to the seminal literary journal Yusi (Threads of talk) before committing himself to a life of revolution, he was also a virtuoso linguist, fluent in English, Russian and several Chinese dialects and able to read Japanese, French and German. His university class in 1925 was unusually distinguished. Besides him, it contained the party’s two best-known literary dissentients, his close friend Wang Shiwei (executed by the Communists in 1947) and Hu Feng. After his expulsion from the party, Wang resumed writing and translating in time snatched from politics, to help fund the impoverished Trotskyists and feed his family. In lonely exile in Macao, he had more time to write than he would have wished. His books include Study of Mao Tze Tung Thoughts, On the Poletariat.Cultural Revolution and many others. His memoirs were published in English translation by OUP in 1980 and in an expanded edition by Columbia University Press in 1991.
Wang was imprisoned for the first time (of three) in Wuhan in 1927, after boldly criticising the CCP’s senior Nationalist allies. Following the bloody collapse of the alliance, he went to Moscow for military training. There he rallied to Trotsky’s criticism of the Chinese united front, which had ended in massacres of Red supporters. Back in Shanghai, he worked under Zhou Enlai as an undercover oppositionist until his exposure and expulsion in 1931, as a prelude to his second and third spells in gaol. When not behind bars, Wang and the other Trotskyists strove in the early and mid 1930s to revive the revolution’s shattered urban base by campaigning for a democratically elected constituent assembly. The campaign failed miserably, if only because most Trotskyists were in gaol, but so did the rural strategy favoured by the CCP, which sacrificed its forces in futile warfare. In 1937, the start of the Japanese War radically altered the nature of Chinese politics. Quixotically, Wang and Chen Duxiu tried to win armed forces to a policy of resistance combined with rural revolution. The CCP, hundreds of times bigger and with a decade of military experience and some Soviet support, effortlessly eclipsed them. After the war, the Trotskyists resumed their campaign for radical democracy and class struggle in the cities. They were as if blind to Mao’s peasant armies, poised by 1949 to seize power everywhere on the mainland.
Wang spent the first years of his exile reflecting on the causes of the Maoist victory and the Trotskyist defeat. In a departure from Trotskyist orthodoxy, he found that a real revolution had indeed taken place under Mao. He criticised his own group’s failure to develop armed forces and mobilise the peasants as one part of their activities. Yet he continued to question the overwhelmingly military thrust of Maoist strategy, which he feared in some ways was just another link in China’s endless chain of wars followed by tyrannical restorations. Instead, he argued for the centrality of the industrial workers and the intelligentsia, new urban classes that offered a way of unlocking the cycle with an experiment in democratic communism.
Other Trotskyists around Peng Shuzhi, in exile in the United States, denounced Wang for “capitulating” to Stalinism. The row was symptomatic of the Trotskyists’ fractiousness, which left them even more vulnerable to their many enemies.
Relegated to the role of a mere observer of Chinese politics in later life, Wang could offer little more than commentary, but even in his early nineties he kept up a lively interest in developments in China and the world. He closely followed the CCP’s evolution and predicted a new opposition would emerge from it. Communist officials tried to tempt him home, but he demanded in return the rehabilitation of Chen Duxiu and the others, a condition that stayed unmet. He kept up a voluminous three-way correspondence with the veteran opposionist Zheng Chaolin in Shanghai (freed from prison in 1979) and the Trotskyist writer Lou Guohua in Hong Kong. The death of Lou in 1995 and of Zheng in 1998 shut down his sounding boards and sources of inspiration, at a time when ill health (caused partly by Nationalist torture) and massive exhaustion anyway made it hard for him to read let alone to comment.
The Trotskyists’ main contribution to the Chinese Revolution was by the pen. The Maoists paid scant heed to Marxism until the late 1930s. By then Stalin had reduced Marxist theory to a self-serving state ideology, which Mao plagiarised to boost his “theoretical” credentials. Wang and his comrades, in contrast, published Marxist writings in Chinese by the shelf-full, including their own creative studies and translations of the classics. In the 1970s, Wang’s memoirs were published in Beijing in a restricted edition. More recently, his study on Maoism also appeared. Before Mao’s death, the very word Trotskyism was enough to trigger a violent shock in most old cadres, but bolder thinkers took a friendlier approach after official ideology began to lose its grip in an increasingly polarised and corrupt society. Among well-known thinkers who have shown sympathy for Wang’s ideas are the former political prisoner Wang Xizhe, the party critic Liu Binyan, the philosopher Wang Ruoshui, and the woman dissident Dai Qing. Although this list of Wang’s Chinese admirers is still short, their writings roused him to a state of high excitement.
In Britain, Wang did not directly engage in politics. However, he influenced students from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia and was revered by radical leaders of the local Chinese community, who sought his advice on their campaigns for social equity in Chinatown and against white racism.
He was unswervingly radical but departed in almost all respects from the stereotype of the hard, narrow, unrelenting revolutionary. Friends knew him as deeply cultured, sensitive, modest, gentle, courteous, enlightened, approachable, open-minded and absolutely true, to individuals as well as to the cause. His extreme selflessness and the fortitude with which he bore numerous personal tragedies and losses lent him an almost saintly aura.
He is survived by his wife in Shanghai and by two children, three grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. Dora, a sort of adopted daughter, cared for him in his old age.
Gregor Benton, January 7, 2003
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Wang Fanxi (1907-2002)
On 30 December 2002, the Chinese Trotskyist leader Wang Fanxi died in Leeds of heart failure aged 95. For nearly 30 years Wang had been exiled in Leeds.
He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1925 and in 1926 was sent for training in Moscow. The whole city was in turmoil with the campaign by Stalin against Trotsky. Trotsky made China on his central planks of criticism exposing the disastrous political strategy, which lead to the massacres in Shanghai and else where. Wang, after much careful thought, became a member of the Left Opposition along the majority of Chinese students in Moscow. On returning to Shanghai, still regarding himself as oppositionist within the Communist Party, he worked for Zhou Enlai until he was expelled in 1931.
For the next 20 years Wang worked with all the major figures in China including Chen Duxiu the founder of the Chinese Communist Party and the Harold Isaacs to build an alternative to the Stalinists. He did not have a lot of success in the sharp conditions of the Japanese invasion of China and the always incipient conditions of civil war between the nationalists and communists. Political arguments were settled by guns and many of Wang's comrades died and the rest including Wang spent many years in gaol. His Memoirs of a Chinese Revolutionary (ISBN 0-231-0745-2,Columbia University Press, 1991) provides an inspiring account of his life. However this struggle, partly through Wang's efforts has found its echoes in many of the struggles for democracy in China right down to Tiananmen Square.
Through his various exiles Wang was the most non sectarian of Trotskyists always willing to comment, listen and contribute. The list of people visiting him included socialists from all over the world. His tolerance even including listening to a young Graham Bash (complete with hair) explaining his own views of the Chinese Revolution. Wang still read Labour Briefing years later.
His commitment to treating everyone as a human being was a sharp contrast to the way he had been dealt. His unassuming warmth provided inspiration to those who met him right up to his death.
He was a friend of Louis Sinclair the famous bibliographer of Trotskyism. On one trip to Glasgow to meet Louis he was introduced to Charlie van Gledern and they too became firm friends. The strength of internationalism of socialism is to remember these three comrades from three continents wondering round the streets of Glasgow arguing and enjoying themselves. I am sure their ghosts are still there.
Garth Frankland 13 Jan 2003
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Words can hardly express how sad I am to hear this. He was like a mirror of conscience, be it right or wrong-- and really, there is no right or wrong in this--, let us treasure that we have encountered somebody like him in our limited life. and disregard what our present state of mind may be, I do take my hat for GunShu--, my respected mentor.
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I am very very sorry to learn this. I thought he was getting better from your last e-mail. What a shock to learn the bad news from Wai Ha while she woke me up in the mid of night. Hope Ganshu did not suffer a lot before he passed away. Let me know the latest news and if I can be of any help to the matter.
Steve Law 31/12/02
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I was really sad to learn that Ganshu is gone. If there is anything that I can do to assist please let me know.
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Just want to say I am really sorry that Ganshu has passed away, I know he meant a lot to you. Although I am not very close to him but I always admired his strength and he is a fighter to the end.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do.
Wai Ha 1/1/03
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南京大學 奚金芳 敬挽
後學馮崇義， University of Technology, Sydney,2003年元月。
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Garth Frankland just left a message on my voicemail to say that Wang Faxni recently died and that the funeral is on Thursday. I am sorry to say that I will not be able to attend the funeral, but I wanted to extend my condolences on the occasion of the death of a courageous revolutionary and one of the more creative thinkers in the trotskyist
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The news of Wang Fanxi's death fills me with a great sadness.
Wang Fanxi received my wife and me at his home in Leeds about a decade ago. Despite his frail health, he generously gave us several hours of his time. We discussed KUTV in the 1920s and other topics in which I have a scholarly interest, and then Mr. Wang gave us a delightful lunch. Not being a Sinologist, at the time I knew relatively little about his background, but in the years since our meeting I have read his works in translation and have come to admire his intellect and his courage and dignity. I shall always treasure the photographs we made on that day in Leeds.
I regret that I will be unable to attend the funeral service next Thursday January 16.
University of Virginia, 12 Jan 2003
To Wang Fanxi Funeral Committee
I am very sorry to hear that Mr.Wang Fanxi passed away.
At first I would heartily like to condole with Mr.Wang Fanxi's family from China and his friends and comrades in Leeds.
I have been in communication with him for several years, and I had a chance to visit him in Leeds in autumn of 2001.
I came to know his name when I was a student at Univ.of Tokyo in 1979. Then his memoir’s Japanese edition published in Japan. I read his memoirs, and I was attracted by his words and his character. I felt that his words contained no falsehood. A Chinese proverb says, the literary works explain the author's character. I think he was a person who continued to tell the truth. And he devoted whole of his life to his ideal. I have the utmost respect for him.
I study modern Chinese literature, especially on Luxun and his attitude toward Trotsky's thought on literary art. Concerning Mr.Wang's contribution to this field , we must notice his works on Luxun, Trotsky and Mao's speech at Yan'an forum,for example he had written << Mao Zedong sixiang lungao>>. He was a pioneer in this field. Even CCP cannot deny his contribution, though they cannot express to him their gratitude for that. I will never forget Mr.Wang's many precious works and his noble character. Good-bye, Wang lao! Hope you could enjoy chatting with Marx, Trotsky, Chen Duxiu and Zheng lao!
NAHAHORI Yuzo ,
Professor at Keio Univ. Tokyo
10 Jan 2003
January 14, 2003
Dear Xue Feng:
I knew the death of Comrade Wang Fanxi on returning from Beijing on January 3. I have just translated his article with the title "Chen Duxiu: The Founder of Chinese Communism" into Japanese for "Trotsky Studies", No. 39, published in December 2002. I assume he received and saw the issue containing my translation in his last days. It was my honor and pleasure to undertake this task for Comrade Wang. It was indeed the deep regret for the Trotskyist movement in the world and the peoples of East Asia. I will convey the sad news to all our comrades.
I will never forget what Comrade Wang wrote to me by letters in his last years. I hereby promise on behalf of the Chen Duxiu Research Society in Japan, founded at Nanjing University in May 27, 2002, to succeed Comrade Wang's belief in revolutionary Marxism for the peoples of East Asia in the 21st century.
SASAKI Chikara, Professor of the University of Tokyo;
President of the Chen Duxiu Research Society in Japan
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I have just read on the AWL website the obituary of Wang Fan-hsi, and wish to send my condolences to the family and friends of this remarkable comrade, whose life-story is inspirational in its dedication, courage, perseverance and steadfastness.
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I am really sad to receive the letter announcing the demise of uncle Wang.
Though uncle Wang had not been in good health for quite some time, it was still quite hard to accept that he finally left us.
I shall miss him. I will not be able to attend his funeral.
Goy Teck Hui
13 Jan 2003
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陳清華 二零零三年冬 於香港
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劉子濂、陳寶瑩 二零零三年冬 於香港
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 12:15:56 +0000
I am very sorry to learn of the death of Wang Fanxi and know it must be a profound and sad occasion for you.
I was very touched to receive your invitation to the funeral. I am unable to attend, unfortunately, as I am sure it will be a momentous occasion and I very much wish I could be there, too.
look forward to seeing you again soon in this new year and please accept
my deepest sympathy.
With warm wishes,
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13 Jan 2003
I will come on the 16th of January 2003 to attend Mr. Wang’s funeral Service.
Mr. Wang is one of my best friends and teacher, his life is a whole story that always shows courage and wisdom. We will always miss him.
Dr. Yongtao Wang
Food Science Department
University of Leeds.
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Velia has informed me the news of "Gan sook"'s passing. I heard this news with immense grief—with the sense that one who has been closest to my soul since dulthood has left forever. My shadow is lost.(Though the last time I saw him was years and years ago, I trust he lived up to his beliefs and integrity till his last breath, perhaps beyond.
An internationalist, he loved his country and is a diehard patriot all his life, as witnessed the two mountain painting that accompanied him wherever he went---a secenery from his hometown Haining, from where he also got his penname.)
How was he like in his last moments? If at all possible, I hope to write a memorial essay, or something like that.
Lee Wai Kwok/SK Lee
13 Jan 2003
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I felt sad to hear of the passing away of Uncle Wang (as he was known to us). I am sorry that I will not be able to attend the funeral at Leeds. Still, I do feel better because Uncle Wang has you guys around. Though I do not know you, and you are probably very busy, if you have a chance, please do tell me more about his passing away, did he say anthing before he died? Was there anyone beside him?
Uncle Wang liked flowers. I will arrange to have flowers delivered to the funeral service, in his memory, and in memory of times with him.
14 Jan 2003
Comrades and friends in Vancouver pay their last
respect to Wang Fanxi, fighter and teacher. S.H. Cheng 14 Jan 03
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TO : Wang Fanxi Funeral Committee
From the mid-1970s and for a decade, I was often travelling in Asia as a young member of the Fourth International bureau. I met many activists of all ages in many countries during these trips, among them Wang Fanxi for a few times and too briefly. At that time, I read also many books on the Chinese Revolution, and very little was available from him in a language I could undestand.
Because of other responsibilities, my links with Asia shrunk in the following years and unhappily I lost contact with Chinese friends. It proved impossible for me to keep alive most of the relations I had tied during these « Asian years » which I found very sad, even if lately some old contacts were revived and new ones established because of common involvements in the present rise of anti-capitalist globalization struggles.
In these circumstances, my memory of Wang Fanxi should have slowly faded away. But it remained vivid. My wife Sally (even if she never met him) and I time and again thought « When we’ll go to England, we shall visit him in Leeds ». We never went to England. Last summer still, we were planning to go on holidays to Scotland –with a possible stopover in Leeds. Sally fell ill and there were no holidays, no stopover.
Wang Fanxi was someone very special, for us to feel such a desire to meet him again even after twenty years have passed. He was both kind, human and intellectually sharp. So experienced but unpretending and helping, able to relate equally with unexperienced youngsters as we were at that time inspite of the age and cultural gaps. We could learn from him and his extraordinary life, while feeling his friendship. He kept a fresh look at a changing world. With so much to say about the past, he lived in the present, caring for the new generation of Chinese activists. To use a formula those from my generation will understand the meaning of, in a factional political environment, especially in Hongkong at the time, he could keep alive an unfactional vision of realities.
These words are so often used at the time of funerals that they become ritualistic, but they do express our feelings : Wang Fanxi will not be forgotten.
January 16, 2003
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