China library puts up statue of book-loving newspaper collector, who was a secret donor

After his death, news of his secret good works came to light - he had quietly donated money to needy students from 1994.
After his death, news of his secret good works came to light - he had quietly donated money to needy students from 1994. PHOTO: CHINADAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A bronze statue is being unveiled in a library in Hangzhou, the capital city of China's Zhejiang province, to honour a newspaper collector who was a familiar face at the library.

Mr Wei Sihao was actually a retired teacher who visited the library often. He became a Chinese Internet celebrity after a reporter's photograph of him washing his hands before reading books at the library went viral in 2014.

Mr Wei died aged 77 in December 2015 after being hit by a car while crossing a road, Chinese news site people.cn reported on Tuesday (Jan 10).

Construction of a 1.6m-high bronze statue of Mr Wei, funded by 1,178 donors, was completed in mid-December, Chinese news site news.zj.com previously reported.

After his death, news of his secret good works came to light - he had quietly donated money to needy students from 1994.

While cleaning his things after his death, Mr Wei's family found out that he had been donating to needy students since 1994 under a pen name.

He started with 300 yuan (S$62) and was donating sums of 3,000 yuan in his later days.

Some students had written to him to thank him, and he would reply them encouraging them to study hard and sending some of them books and magazines.

Mr Wei, who was known affectionately as "the old collector", had a pension of 5,000 yuan per month, but he would go around collecting old newspapers and magazines to earn some money which went into his donation.

His daughter shared that he was a teacher but never got to finish his university studies.

"But his love for learning never changed. He loved to go to the library," people.cn quoted her as saying.

The statue in Mr Wei's honour will be displayed inside the Hangzhou Public Library, South China Morning Post reported on Monday (Jan 9).