Veteran, reformist dies at 99

Updated: 2016-02-01 07:56

By Zhang Yi(China Daily)

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Yuan Geng, a prominent figure in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and a pioneer of China's reform and opening-up, has died. He was 99.

Yuan was born Ouyang Rushan in Guangdong province's Bao'an county in April 1917 and joined the Communist Party of China at 21.

In 1939, he joined the Dongjiang Column of the Guangdong People's Anti-Japanese Aggression Guerrilla Force, which was led by the CPC in southern China.

When Hong Kong was occupied by Japanese troops in 1942, Yuan helped save more than 800 people who supported the Chinese people's revolutionary cause.

He was appointed head of the Dongjiang Column's liaison division in August 1944 and provided large amounts of valuable information to the United States Pacific Fleet and the US 14th Army Air Force.

In September 1945, immediately after Japan's surrender at the end of World War II, Yuan was sent to Hong Kong to set up a liaison office which would become the Xinhua News Agency Hong Kong Branch.

He then headed to Yantai, Shandong province, where the Dongjiang Column took part in more than a dozen battles from 1945 to 1949.

Following the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Yuan continued in intelligence work and ensured the safety of the Chinese delegation at the Bandung Conference of 1955 including delegation head Zhou Enlai.

Veteran, reformist dies at 99

Wrongfully imprisoned during the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Yuan was reinstated upon his release in October 1975, and appointed head of foreign affairs in the then Transport Ministry.

In June 1978, he was assigned to help set up a bureau of merchants services in Hong Kong and was in charge of the bureau's affairs from October that same year.

The Shekou Industrial Zone he helped set up in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, was a flagship program of China's reform and opening-up - introducing new ways of distributing wages and housing based on performance and market values.

Yuan also played a major role in establishing China Merchants Bank, the country's first joint-stock commercial bank, in 1987 and Ping An Insurance Company of China, the first commercial insurance company founded by merchants in May 1988.

Ma Xingrui, the Party chief of Shenzhen and Xu Qin, the mayor of the city, paid respects to Yuan and expressed condolences to his family on Sunday.