Zhou Youguang, who created the writing system that turns Chinese characters into words using letters from the Roman alphabet, has died aged 111.
Zhou developed the Pinyin system of writing in conjunction with the Communist Party Committee in the 1950s.
It changed the way the language was taught and helped to raise literacy rates.
Born in 1906 in the Qing Dynasty, Zhou later became a fierce critic of China's communist rulers.
He died in Beijing on 14th Jan 2017 a day after his birthday.
Starting out as a Wall Street Banker, he came to China after the communist victory in 1949 and was put in charge of creating a new writing system using the Roman alphabet.
Before Pinyin was developed, 85% of Chinese people could not read, now almost all can.
Pinyin has since become the most commonly used system internationally. Some Chinese communities, particularly in Hong Kong and Taiwan, continue to use alternatives.
Pinyin is also widely used to type Chinese characters on computers and smartphones,
Zhou has also written books critiquing the Maoist regime, most of which were banned.