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Hu, Wen say final farewell to Epstein
(China Daily/Xinhua)
Updated: 2005-06-03 23:43

President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao were among 1,000 mourners to pay their last respects yesterday to Israel Epstein, the celebrated journalist.

Israel Epstein [Xinhua/file]
Family, friends and colleagues attended the ceremony at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing.

A distinguished Chinese citizen who devoted his life to journalism and to reporting on China, Epstein died in Beijing at age 90 on May 26.

Lying amidst white lilies and covered with the flag of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Epstein in his life time won admiration and love from people who worked with him.

President Hu praised Epstein for his "outstanding contributions" to China's progress and "his sincere affection for China and the Chinese people."

Arriving in China with his Jewish parents at the age of two in 1917, Epstein witnessed all the phases of modern Chinese revolution and of New China's efforts in construction and reforms under the leadership of the CPC.

During the Chinese War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), he was war correspondent for the (US) United Press in Guangzhou, where he met Soong Ching Ling, who invited him to join the China Defence League she established in Hong Kong.

When serving as a correspondent of the United Press and the Allied Labour News of the United States, Epstein visited Northwest China's Shaanxi Province and Shanxi-Suiyuan Anti-Japanese Base Areas, and interviewed Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and other CPC leaders.

Permanently settled in Beijing in 1951 with his first wife Elsie Fairfax-Cholmeley and becoming a Chinese citizen in 1957, Epstein wrote and edited for China Reconstructs (China Today) magazine.

From 1983 on, he served as an elected member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body in China.

As a veteran journalist, Epstein also concerned himself with the development of China's foreign language news media, including China Daily, which launched its first issue 24 years ago.

"He often called me to praise some of the good works the paper carried and point out the things that we missed," recalled Zhu Yinghuang, former editor-in-chief of China Daily and a member of the CPPCC national committee.

During his lifetime, he penned the books "The People's War in China" (1939), "The Unfinished revolution in China" (1947), "From Opium War to Liberation" (1956), "Tibet Transformed" (1983), "Women in World History: Soong Ching Ling" (1993), "I Visit Yan'an" and "My China Eye -- Memoirs of a Jew and a Journalist" (2005).

He and Cholmeley did not have children of their own but adopted two Chinese children. Cholmeley died in 1984.

Epstein's body was cremated after the funeral service.

He is survived by his second wife, Wan Bi, two children and two stepchildren.

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