China Beat Archive


Date of this Version


Document Type



January 12, 2009 in The China Beat


Copyright January 12, 2009 Claire Conceison. Used by permission.


During the final three years of his life, I collaborated with Ying Ruocheng on his autobiography in English. Sitting by his bedside, he captivated me with stories from his imprisonment, education, childhood, and his careers on stage and screen as well as in political and cultural diplomacy. His resulting autobiography, entitledVoices Carry, is an unusually witty narrative that includes vivid accounts of the events listed below and many more…

1. He was chosen by Bernardo Bertolucci to star in his film The Last Emperor after Bertolucci saw him play the role of Kublai Khan in the 1982 NBC miniseries Marco Polo.

2. His grandfather, Ying Lianzhi, founded the Dagongbao newspaper in Tianjin (now in Hong Kong) and Furen University in Beijing (now in Taiwan), and was knighted by Pope Pius XII for his impact on Catholic education in China.

3. His father, Ying Qianli, was imprisoned twice by the Japanese during the occupation, and then taken to Taiwan by Chiang Kai-shek in the late 1940s, where he became a prominent scholar at Taiwan National University until his death in 1969.

4. His son, media celebrity Ying Da, is host of several talk shows for CCTV, creator of the wildly popular 1990s sitcom Wo ai wo jia (I Love My Home), and a featured actor in Chen Kai-ge’s new film about the life of Mei Lanfang.

5. He was a founding member of the Beijing People’s Art Theatre, where he starred as Pock-mark Liu in the 1958 staging and 1979 revivals of Lao She’s masterpiece Teahouse, and translated the play into English for its touring productions abroad. (He also translated plays by Shakespeare, Shaw, Miller, Cao Yu, and others.)