The Roman Catholic Church's only Chinese cardinal, Archbishop Paul Yu Pin, died of a heart attack yesterday, reducing to 111 the number of princes of the church who will elect a successor to Pope Paul VI:

Yu Pin, 77, was the archbishop of Nanking but lived in Taiwan. He fell ill at the religious hospice where he was staying and died two hours later of a heart attack, church sources said.

The archbishop fainted Saturday at the funeral for Pope Paul.

John Joseph Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia, who arrived in Rome on the same plane as the Chinese prelate, said Yu Pin appeared weak even before his arrival for the conclave.

"He got up this morning and was dressing for the congress when he said, 'I don't feel very well," Krol said of Yu Pin. "He went to lie down on the bed and didn't get up."

Krol said a funeral Mass for Yu Pin would be held tomorrow is St. Peter's Basilica.

Of the other 129 surviving members of the College of Cardinals, 15 are over the age of 80 and thus too old to vote, and three have said they will be unable to come because of illness, including an American cardinal, John Wright.

Yu Pin was one of the survivors of a once-flourishing Catholic church in China that has been all but annihilated by the Communists. Thus, the world's most populous nation will be unrepresented in the election.

Yu Pin frequently accused the Peking government of religious persecution and the Communists put him on their list of "war criminals." He opposed extending Vatican recognition to the Chinese Bishops that had been named without the consent of the Holy See. Both Pope Paul and his predecessor, Pope John XXIII, reportedly favored such recognition.

The Chinese prelate fled he mainland in 1949 at the time of the Communist takeover. He first went to the United States, where he took an active part in the cultural affairs of Chinese students. In 1960, at the request of Pope John, he went to Taiwan, which has 300,000 Catholics, to revive the Catholic Fu Jen University there.

Observers had been expecting him to take a conservative position in next week's conclave of cardinals that will meet to elect a new pope.

The other cardinals, meanwhile held their seventh meeting in preparation for the conclave, which begins Aug. 25.

Official Vatican sources said the cardinals discussed how the conclave would be managed in accordance with Pope Paul's formal instructions issued in October, 1975. The sources gave no details but said the discussion lasted 45 minutes and that another meeting is scheduled for this morning.

The cardinals also heard a report on the latest developments in the Roman Catholic Church around the world.

Outside the formal meetings in the Apostolic Palace, the cardinals were also reportedly discussing privately among themselves the future of the church, its rols in the world and the kind of individual they are seeking to lead it.