On December 20th, 1965 the Chinese Book of Mormon was published for the first time.
Work on a Chinese translation of the Book of Mormon started shortly after missionaries arrived in 1955 to Hong Kong. President Grant Heaton, hired a few people to translate portions of the Book of Mormon and then had formed a committee to review the translations. Translation of the Book of Mormon proved difficult and the work was slow. The translation was mostly finished by 1959, but President Heaton felt it still needed work. He was released as mission President and the work on the translation stopped. It wasn’t until Hu Wei-I was called in 1962 to translate 3rd Nephi. Hu Wei-I joined the church in 1959 and quickly started translating church material into Chinese. Hu Wei-I and Larry K. Browning were set apart to translate the Book of Mormon on the 5th of November 1963 by Elder Gordon B. Hinckley and began translation in January of 1964. The translation was finished that July and Hu Wei-I was quoted saying, “It took me seven months; Joseph Smith only needed two.” Publication was on December 20th, 1965 with 3,000 copies and was published in hard and softbound.
On January 9, 1966 Elder Gordon B. Hinkley presented a copy of the first edition to President David o. McKay. Inside the cover was a typed the following text:
This copy of the first edition of the Book of Mormon in Chinese presented to President David O. McKay, who 45 years ago on January 9, 1921, accompanied by Elder Hugh J. Cannon, in the “Forbidden City” of Peking dedicated and consecrated and set apart “the Chinese realm for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in this dispensation through the Prophet Smith.”
The Book of Mormon is now available in the language which is the mother tongue of more people than any other on earth. May it go forth among them as a witness of the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
With sincere respect and deep affection, Gordon B. Hinckley
On Either Side – May 1966
“That They May Know“, Church News Article January 1966
“Wherever He Leads Us” – Pioneers in Every Land
Herald G. Heaton personal history 1993-2001