Li Ziliu, a former mayor of Guangzhou City, China, and inadvertent creator of many Mandarin related-jokes, died on December 25. 

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) says Li Ziliu died of a heart attack and called him “a long-tested communist fighter.”  

However, Hong Kong media Voice of Hope reported on December 27 that he contracted COVID before his death.

Hong Kong’s “Sing Tao Daily” quoted Zhou Qingqiang, the former deputy director of the Guangzhou Municipal People’s Congress, saying that Li Ziliu was infected with the new crown disease on December 15 and passed away on the 10th day after getting infected.

Zhou Qingqiang said that Li Ziliu’s death shows that COVID is “extremely unfriendly” to the elderly.

Li Ziliu was born in 1932. When just 19 (1951), he served as a leader in the Dazhou land reform team.

Two years later, he officially entered the Chinese Communist Party.

During the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1969, the CCP listed him as a “Three Anti” and sent him to prison for two years.

From age 59 to 64, he was appointed Mayor of Guangzhou, period 1991-1996. He retired at 65 (1997).

During his tenure, he promoted the construction of the Wahai Bridge connecting Jiangmen to Zhongshan and founded Wuyi University, the first undergraduate college in Jiangmen.

After his death at 91, the official media called him an “excellent member of the Communist Party of China” and “a long-tested communist fighter.”

People know him as a CCP official with intense local color. So people compiled his Cantonese Mandarin into various jokes.

One time, he tried to speak Mandarin but failed. As a result, the story accidentally creates a joke that causes an uproar in the audience. 

He says, “Government officials should refuse to speak Mandarin!” 

Later, people discovered he wanted to say, “consciously speak Mandarin.”

Another time, instead of saying, “Ladies and Gentlemen!” he said, “Sons-in-law and Gentlemen!”

As a native of Shunde, Li Ziliu speaks Mandarin with a Shunde accent. 

On another occasion, while speaking in public with Putonghua, he suddenly recognized that he couldn’t speak Mandarin well enough.

He quickly switched to Cantonese and which caused a lot of laughter.

His typical saying is, if you can’t do things beyond your ability, go back to Shunde (Benevolent). He was born in Shunde.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.