Beijing - Lei Jieqiong, a Chinese woman well-known for her colorful life spanning politics, education, academic studies and legislation, died of illness in Beijing on Sunday at the age of 106.
Lei was the founder and former leader of the China Association for Promoting Democracy (CAPD), one of the eight non-Communist parties of China. She served as the chairperson of the 7th to 9th Central Committee of the CAPD, and honorary president of the 10th and 11th CAPD Central Committee.
Born in the southern city of Guangzhou in 1905, Lei studied in the United States and received a master's degree of sociology at the University of Southern California in 1931.
Lei Jieqiong was founder of the China Association for Promoting Democracy. [China Daily]
She then came back to China and began teaching sociology at Yenching University in Beijing, the predecessor of Peking University. Lei became a professor and doctoral supervisor when Peking University established its sociology department in 1982.
Having taught for more than 70 years, Lei once said "of all my titles, 'professor' is the one I like most".
Yao Youjun, one of Lei's students, once said Lei was a "dedicated and well-tempered" teacher.
"She always got up early for class and never used speakers. No matter how large the classroom was, students could hear her clearly," Yao said.
Lei majored in sociology but her research covered law, sociology, demography, women, marriage, family matters and aging problems.
Apart from teaching, Lei actively took part in patriotic and democratic movements throughout her life. During the December 9th Movement in 1935, Lei was the only female professor at Yenching University who took part in the demonstration, Chairwoman of the CAPD Yan Junqi said.
"Her decisive devotion in the pursuit of democracy is well elaborated by her active participation in such democratic movements," Yan said.
Establishing the CAPD with her peers in 1935, Lei was also a close friend of the Communist Party of China (CPC).
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Lei served as vice-chairperson of the country's top advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and vice-chairperson of the standing committee of the country's top legislature, the National People's Congress.
China's top political adviser Jia Qinglin, as he visited Lei on her 105th birthday last year, said Lei was a representative of "the united front and the democratic parties."
Lei became a vice-mayor of Beijing at the age of 74 in 1979. During her four years in office, she reopened many temples and churches that had been closed during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976).
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said on Monday he was saddened to learn of the death of Lei.
A State leader and a renowned jurist, Lei served on the Basic Law Drafting Committee and visited Hong Kong a number of times to gauge the views of various sectors of the public.
In 1997, she attended Hong Kong's handover ceremony at the age of 91.
China Daily, Xinhua contributed to this story.