Sidney Shapiro, a famed US-born translator who gained Chinese citizenship and became a member of China’s top political advisory body, died in Beijing on the weekend, Reuters reported, citing his granddaughter. He was 98.
Shapiro was born in New York in 1915 and first came to China in 1947, having been selected by the US army to learn Chinese during World War II.
He married a Chinese actress and remained in China after the Communists won in 1949. He did not visit the United States again until 1971.
He remained in China after the Communist revolution in 1949, when many Western foreigners left, and became a Chinese citizen in 1963 — an honor reserved only for a few foreigners judged to have performed special services for China.
He was best known for his English translations of Outlaws of the Marsh, a Chinese classic novel, as well as works by modern authors Ba Jin and Mao Dun.
“Translators like us have the responsibility to let the world know that China has the richest tradition of virtue,” he told Xinhua News Agency in 2010, after being bestowed a lifetime achievement award by the Translators Association of China.
Better known in China by his Chinese name Sha Boli, he was appointed in 1983 to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a high-profile advisory body to the parliament.
He never joined the Communist Party, although he had always been an ardent supporter.
“I was still too much of a maverick, reluctant to accept any organizational strictures or discipline. But I had the greatest respect for the Chinese party, and fully supported its principles and goals,” he wrote in his autobiography I Chose China.
Shapiro died on Saturday morning, just two months short of his 99th birthday, his granddaughter, Stella Guo, said in an email.
“As his granddaughter, I am blessed with so many memories — his quirky humor, wonderful stories, great taste in music, appreciation for old movies, his American-Jewish heritage, energetic debates, love of new technology and so much more,” she wrote.
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