Date
22 August 2017
YP Cheng published a book in 2010. Cheng acted as an interpreter during the Sino-British negotiations on the Hong Kong sovereignty handover. Photos: Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao
YP Cheng published a book in 2010. Cheng acted as an interpreter during the Sino-British negotiations on the Hong Kong sovereignty handover. Photos: Wen Wei Po, Ta Kung Pao

Sino-British negotiations interpreter YP Cheng dies at 85

YP Cheng, the former chief interpreter of the Hong Kong government, died on July 25 in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, the Apple Daily reported Tuesday. He was 85.

Cheng suffered from hemorrhagic strokes a few years ago and his health had since deteriorated with a series of lung infections, Cheng’s widow Geng Yan said.

Cheng was the only person from Hong Kong who participated in the entire course of negotiations between China and the United Kingdom as an interpreter before the Sino-British Joint Declaration was finally signed in 1984.

Cheng was a professional with an unassailable work ethic, and never in his life had he disclosed any part of the negotiations. He once said an interpreter is the most knowledgeable person at the negotiation table because he understands the thoughts of the two sides.

His family and friends attended the cremation ceremony on Monday.

Retired Apple Daily publisher Tung Qiao, a long-time friend who worked with him at BBC, said Cheng was a very diligent person and an expert in simultaneous interpretation. He could translate an English script into Chinese straight away without having to write down a Chinese version first. He was regarded as a legend by people in his profession.

Commentator and former legislator Allen Lee remembers Cheng as a quiet but highly competent man. “While chief negotiators had been changed a few times, Cheng had always remained as the chief interpreter, and that showed how trusted he was by the British government,” Lee said.

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