- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2002

Yu Chi-chung, founder of the mass-circulation China Times and a most-influential newspaperman in Taiwan for the past half-century, died of liver cancer April 9 at his home in Taipei. He was 92.
A native of Jiangsu province, China, Mr. Yu graduated from National Central University (now Nanjing and Southeastern universities) in 1932. Shortly before his graduation, war broke out between China and Japan in Shanghai. Mr. Yu interrupted his studies and joined the Nationalist Chinese army.
In 1934, Mr. Yu went to Great Britain to pursue graduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science. When the all-out Sino-Japanese war erupted in 1937, he rushed back to China to enlist in the war effort.
Headquartered in Sian throughout World War II, Mr. Yu rose to the position of director of the political department at the Sian campus of the Central Military Academy. Later, involved in the crucial task of recovering Manchuria and negotiating with occupying Soviet forces, Mr. Yu became director of the political department of the Northeastern Garrison Command with the rank of lieutenant general.
On the eve of China's fall to the communists in 1949, Mr. Yu and his family moved to Taiwan. The following year, he started a mimeographed tabloid newspaper called Credit Information. In later years, he enjoyed telling people how he pedaled his bike and sold on the street six copies of the paper the first day it was published. The publication, renamed China Times in 1968, has grown into a major and influential newspaper in Taiwan.
At its peak, China Times had a circulation of more than 1 million, officially certified by the American Audit Bureau of Circulations in 1982.
Mr. Yu was a staunch defender of a free press and contributed significantly to Taiwan's movement toward an open and pluralistic society. President Chen Shui-bian, of the Democratic Progressive Party, called him "a helmsman of Taiwan's democracy" in a personal message celebrating China Times' 50th anniversary in 2000.
When the Democratic Progressive Party was formed in 1986, Mr. Yu defied the government's ban on coverage of the party's founding and related activities, and gave the epoch-making political event prominent space in China Times.
Mr. Yu incurred the wrath of the hard-liners and old guard within the ruling Kuomintang Party. This led eventually to the closing of the U.S. edition of China Times in November 1984, as a result of governmental and party pressures along with a cutoff of funds from Taiwan.
Apart from championing freedom and democracy, Mr. Yu was a lifelong opponent of the idea of Taiwanese independence and a steadfast believer in the ultimate peaceful reunification of Taiwan with China. As he saw it, this was the only solution to the question of Taiwan and the only way to avoid war.
Since the late 1980s, when Taiwan and China re-established people-to-people contacts and exchanges, Mr. Yu had penned a number of editorials and commentaries expounding the concept of peaceful reunification through the formation of a Chinese confederation. To explore such a possibility, at China's invitation, Mr. Yu traveled to Beijing in 1999 and held a two-hour meeting with President Jiang Zemin.
Mr. Yu personally reported his findings to former President Lee Teng-hui. Mr. Lee's subsequent "Two-States Doctrine" negated Mr. Yu's endeavor at rapprochement.
Since then, the relationship across the Taiwan Strait has been in a deep freeze.
Mr. Yu established a cultural and educational foundation in China with a $7 million endowment. The Yinghua Foundation was designed to help faculty members and worthy students of his alma mater to engage in research projects.
There is a similarly endowed China Times Cultural Foundation in America to award scholarships annually to doctoral candidates for writing their dissertations.
Mr. Yu is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Tsai Yu-hui; two sons and two daughters, Albert and Alice of Taipei and Frank and Louisa of California; and eight grandchildren.

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