Shi Ping of China, potentially World’s Oldest Man, dies at 112

Shi Ping on his 112th birthday in November 2023

The Gerontology Research Group is saddened to report news that Mr. Shi Ping, Chinese academic, political administrator, the oldest living man in China, and possibly the world’s oldest living man, sadly died in Xuhui District, Shanghai, China on 29 June 2024 at the age of 112 years, 241 days. His age has been pending validation by the Gerontology Research Group (GRG) as of 4 June 2024.

Shi Ping was born as Shi Eryi in Dayao County, Yunnan, China on 1 November 1911. At the beginning of 1926, when Shi Ping left Dayao, this ancient mountain city was under the rule of the warlords of the Republic of China. He joined the First Revolution in Kunming in 1926. When he was a student at Zhejiang University, Shi Ping actively participated in the “December 9” anti-Japanese salvation movement, and twice confronted Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-Japanese proposals. During the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the War of Liberation, he served as a local party leader under Su Yu and Chen Pixian of the New Fourth Army.

In 1929, aged 17, he traveled to Nanjing, and initially attended Nanjing Jinling University in 1931, but was unable to continue due to the high tuition costs, and transferred to Zhejiang University, where he was admitted to the university’s agriculture college. While attending university, he helped found the “Agricultural College Students Anti-Japanese Association”, and was elected by his fellow students to become the chairman of the association at the age of 19. Later this same year, he joined a group of around 2,000 student representatives from various schools in Hangzhou, where they traveled to Nanjing to protest the government’s diplomatic relationship with Japan. It was around this time when he met his future wife, Yang Lin, a fellow student in the agricultural college, and the couple married in 1934. Later on in the same year, Lin – who was pregnant at the time – was imprisoned due to her involvement in the organization of communist student activities. While in prison, she gave birth to their son on 5 January 1935. Tragically, Lin experienced complications in childbirth and passed away in prison just 18 days after giving birth, leaving her grief-stricken, widowed husband to name their son Huailin in her honor.

In 1935, just a few months after the birth of his son and the death of his wife, he was elected the chairman of the city student union, where his leadership began to garner the attention of Chiang Kai-shek, who disapproved of what he viewed as “disruptive” student activities. In May 1936, he was elected as an executive member of the National Federation of Students, and Chairman of the Special Committee of the Federation. Shortly thereafter, he was arrested and briefly jailed due to his communist affiliations, but was released after seven days. In 1938, he joined the Communist Party of China, where he was appointed to serve secretary of the county party committee and regiment political commissar of the New Fourth Army. Due to the political persecution he had received from the government during his college years, he later changed his name from Shi Eryi to Shi Ping.

From October 1953 to February 1960, he served as Party Secretary and Vice President of Beijing Agricultural University (now China Agricultural University), but was forced out of his position during the Anti-Rightist Campaign, where the government labeled him as a “rightist opportunist”, despite having been a dedicated member of the Communist Party for over 20 years. Two years later, the government discovered that their persecution of Shi had been a mistake, and allowed him to serve as deputy director of the Rural Office of the East China Bureau of the Central Committee of the CCP.

In 1978, he was appointed as the Party Secretary of East China Normal University, where he served for five years before being elected Secretary General of Shanghai Municipal People’s Congress in 1983, where he served for two years before his retirement in 1985. Following his retirement, his hobbies included reading, writing, and photography, where he has published four photo books containing his pictures. His only son, Shi Huailin, a graduate of Harbin Institute of Technology, sadly passed away on 21 September 1987 after being hit by a taxi driver while riding his bike.

In 2011, the East China Normal University Press published the Collected Works of Shi Ping, a book consisting of writings he had produced over the course of nearly 80 years. In 2013, aged 101, he published his fourth photo book, and donated it to the library of East China Normal University. His grandson is Dr. Shi Yigong, a biologist who serves as the current president of Westlake University in Hangzhou, Zhejiang. On 7 February 2024, at the age of 112, he was officially recognized by the Shanghai Alumni Association of China Agricultural University for his significant contributions to the college. As of 2024, he slept throughout most of the day and received all of his nutrients through a feeding tube, but was still able to sit up in a wheelchair. He was almost completely deaf but was able to provide simple responses if someone tapped his shoulder.

On 2 April 2024, following the death of 114-year-old Juan Vicente Pérez Mora of Venezuela, he became candidate fot the world’s oldest living man title. His age has been pending validation by the Gerontology Research Group as of 4 June 2024.

After his death, the new World’s Oldest Living Man is 111-year-old John Tinniswood (born 26 August 1912) of the United Kingdom who has already been recognized by Guinness World Records on 4 April 2024.

Shi Ping, a 113-year-old veteran of the New Fourth Army, passed away in Shanghai! He is the grandfather of Shi Yigong


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