Beloved TV host Li Yong dies at 50

Society & Culture

Video by Jia Guo, text by Chauncey Jung

Li Yong, China’s famous former CCTV presenter, passed away on October 25 in the U.S. at the age of 50. His wife, Ha Wen, announced the news on Monday on Weibo.

“After 17 months of treatment in America, I lost my eternal love on October 25 at 5:20 am,” Ha wrote. The Weibo post has received more than 430,000 comments so far.

According to Netease Entertainment, Li struggled with laryngeal cancer, and had shown symptoms back in 2015.

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Li Yong was known for hosting several popular CCTV programs, such as Lucky 52 (幸运52) and Special 6+1 (非常6+1), as well as CCTV’s annual Spring Festival Gala, which is the country’s most-watched program every year.

Born in Urumqi in 1968, Li graduated from the Communication University of China in 1991 and started working for China Central Television that same year. He became a TV host in 1998 with the show Lucky 52 and became popular for his humorous and unorthodox style. In 2002, Li hosted his first Spring Festival Gala. He would host the annual gala 10 more times, the last time in 2013.

According to iFeng entertainment, Li was diagnosed with cancer in May 2017. His family decided to go to the U.S. for medical treatment, but Li lost the battle after 17 months.

Chinese social media reacted to Li’s death with an outpouring of condolences. Many fans expressed shock.

Several Chinese celebrities sent in their condolences on Weibo. Comedian Yue Yunpeng 岳云鹏, actor Pan Changjiang 潘长江, and singer Li Yugang 李玉刚 all expressed regret.

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Li Yong’s alma mater, Communication University of China, also issued a statement for Li. In 2013, Li Yong was hired by the university as an associate professor.

A previous speech made by Li in 2014 went viral. Called “How I would spend the last day of my life,” Li said that he would find a quiet place on the last day of his life. “There will be no apology. There will be no farewells. There will be no complaints. There will only be appreciation…every viewer in front of the TV, thank you for leaving me beautiful memories.”