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Li Yong, Chinese TV host, dies after battle with cancer

Li Yong
Li Yong has passed away from cancer. Pic credit: Photo: Weibo

Li Yong, a popular television host in China, has passed away after a 17-month long fight with cancer.

The news surfaced on social media Monday morning after Li’s wife, television director Ha Wen, shared the news that he had passed away last Thursday in the United States.

She explained that he was battling cancer, but did not disclose the type of cancer he was battling. She shared the news of his passing on the social microblogging site Weibo, writing, “I have lost my eternal love”.

According to the South China Morning Post, Ha’s post about her husband’s passing had been viewed more than 760 million times and had received more than 240,000 comments just five hours after she published it. Needless to say, fans of Li Yong are shocked.

“It’s so sudden – I had no idea that he was even ill,” one person wrote on Weibo, while another added, “I can’t believe it because it seems like he has been on our television screens the whole time.”

Li was born in the city of Urumqi, in the far western Xinjiang region, in 1968. He graduated from the University of China in 1991 after studying communications in 1991 and got a job with CCTV as a journalist. He would later get experience working as a producer and later a host. His wife also worked at CCTV.

Li Yong married his wife Ha Wen in 1992 and the two have one daughter, Fatima Li, from 2002.

Fans may best remember Li for his unorthodox hosting stills, flamboyant outfits, and his ability to laugh at his own jokes. He was down-to-earth and had been on television screens for two decades.

He hosted a variety of programs on CCTV, China Central Television, including Lucky 52 which made him a household name in the 1990s. Lucky 52 was a game show and it aired on Saturday nights. But in October 2008, the show ended and the CCTV network announced that Lucky 52 would go off the air with Li as the host.

After leaving the hit show that made him famous, he went on to host the Spring Festival Gala 10 times and even the CCTV’s New Year’s Gala before leaving CCTV in 2013. He was diagnosed with cancer in 2017.

The family had moved to the United States with their 16-year-old daughter, but they had stayed out of the public spotlight.

Fans are mourning his passing on social media, many in shock that he had cancer. It seemed to be something he had kept to himself for months.

Li Yong passed away on October 25, 2018.

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