Louis Cha, the Master of Martial Arts Novels, Was Once Banned in China

Statue of Louis Cha on Taohua Island in Zhejiang Province. (Image:  Clestur via  flickr  CC BY-SA 3.0)
Statue of Louis Cha on Taohua Island in Zhejiang Province. (Image: Clestur via flickr CC BY-SA 3.0)

Louis Cha, long considered to be Hong Kong’s most famous novelist, died on October 30, 2018 at the age of 94.  His novels were popular worldwide, yet were once banned in mainland China. It has been known by many people that his father was killed by the Chinese Communist government.

Louis Cha, better known by his pen name, Jin Yong, was born in 1924 in Yuanhua Town, Haining County, Zhejiang Province. The Cha clan was well known in Haining. At the time of his birth, his family owned 3,000 acres of good farmland, houses, and other properties and their business were flourishing.

Illustration from the novel “The Giant Eagle”, illustrated by Tung Pui-sun. (Image: Hong Kong Heritage Museum / CC0 1.0)

Illustration from the novel ‘The Giant Eagle’  by Jin Yong. (Image: Hong Kong Heritage Museum / CC0 1.0)

The Cha family hailed from the scholarly Cha clan of Haining, whose members included notable literature figures out of which three were Hanlin scholars known to be the highest officials that functioned as emperors’ close advisers and confidential secretaries during the Qing Dynasty. Emperor Kangxi recognized them as a great clan since the Tang and Song dynasties.

However, his father, Cha Shuqing, who received a Western education, was arrested by the Chinese Communist government for allegedly being a counter-revolutionary during the Campaign to Suppress Counter-revolutionaries on April 26, 1951. After Cha Shuqing was arrested, he was condemned as the “most evil” landlord and executed in front of his family. The Cha family was further humiliated and had to pay compensation for the cost of the bullet at 10 RMB.

In 1981, Deng Xiaoping, met with Louis and personally apologized for the killing of Jin Yong’s father. (Image: scmp / CC0 1.0)

In 1981, Deng Xiaoping met with Louis and personally apologized to him for the killing of his father. (Image: scmp /cns / CC0 1.0)

Li Yuanhua, a former associate professor of the Beijing Institute of Education, commented: “Louis Cha’s father was a highly cultivated person and well-respected. In the presence of his family, he was shot dead and the family had to pay for the cost of the bullet. This was very cruel.”

Louis once mentioned that his father had died a tragic death, which was very difficult to accept.  In his biography, there was a detailed account of the killing of his father. After Cha Shuqing’s death, the Chinese Communist government, leaving behind just two old houses, seized the Cha family’s property. Louis’s stepmother, Gu Xiuying, had no means to raise the children and desperately wanted to sell the old houses. However, Gu Xiuying was accused of seeking revenge against the Communist government. She was publicly tried, condemned, and beaten for three days and three nights.

Louis then left for Hong Kong. He worked for the Chinese newspaper Ta Kung Pao. The pseudonym of Jin Yong was from the Chinese character of his third name, which was divided into two characters to become “Jin Yong.”

Louis wrote the first martial arts novel The Book and the Sword in 1955 and finished his final novel, The Deer and the Cauldron, in 1972.  He wrote a total of 15 popular swordsman novels, which earned him a large readership, initially among Chinese communities, but later all over the world.  However, the novels were once banned in Mainland China, in particular, The Legend of the Condor Heroes, which was written in 1957 was related to the persecution of Jin Yong’s father.

Louis wrote a total of 15 popular swordsman novels, which earned him a large readership initially among the Chinese communities and now all over the world. (Image: scmp / CC0 1.0)

Louis wrote a total of 15 popular swordsman novels, which earned him a large readership, initially among Chinese communities, but later all over the world. (Image: scmp / martin chan / CC0 1.0)

 

On July 18, 1981, the then leader of the Communist Party of China, Deng Xiaoping, met with Louis and personally apologized to him for the killing of his father.  Soon after, Cha Shuqing was posthumously declared innocent. Since then, Louis’s novels began to be published in China.

Please watch this video of Louis Cha’s life and works:

Translated by Chua BC

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