Hong Kong remembers Meng Lang, supporter of dissident Chinese poets

  • Co-founder of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre and campaigner for the release of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, Meng died of lung cancer this month
  • Evening of poetry readings and music held in memory of 57-year-old

An evening of poetry reading and music was held in Hong Kong on Tuesday in memory of Meng Lang, the Chinese poet who co-founded Independent Chinese PEN Centre and fought tirelessly for the release of his late friend Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Nobel peace laureate.

The commemoration took place at Green Wave Art in Mong Kok.

On December 12, Meng lost a 10-month fight against lung cancer and died at the age of 57 at Sha Tin Hospital with his Taiwan-born wife, To Chia-chi, and many friends by his side.

The poet, who was born in Shanghai in 1961, became active in independent poetry movements in China in the 1980s and for decades was a keen promoter of fellow poets whose works are banned in China because of their outspokenness.

He lived in Hong Kong from 2009 until 2015 and was chief editor of independent publishing houses Morning Bell Press and Fountainhead Press. He and his wife moved to Taiwan later, but he had flown back to Hong Kong on February 14 to promote a new collection of Liu’s poems.

However, Meng never had the chance to organise an event, as he was rushed to the Prince of Wales Hospital on February 17. In March he was found to have stage-four lung cancer.

Meng celebrated his last birthday in August at his serviced apartment home, when he was allowed to leave hospital for a brief period. However, his condition deteriorated and he was taken back to hospital soon afterwards. In November, Chinese dissident writer Ma Jian visited Meng after speaking at Tai Kwun, the new heritage and culture centre in Central that had initially cancelled his talk; the novelist is often critical of the Chinese government.

Meng left behind unpublished works and a second poetry collection that he was editing for the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown next year. He was also in the midst of planning for an archive in Taiwan of underground and exiled Chinese writers.

Meng was a major force behind the setting up of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre in July 2001, which had 28 founding members, including Liu.