'Red' spirit reaffirmed for centenary celebrations
July Keywords: "Red" spirit lingers
A "red" post office opened in mid-July as a curtain-raiser to a series of events planned this year to celebrate the centenary of the Second CPC National Congress, an important episode in the Community Party of China's history.
Situated in the memorial built on the former meeting site on Laochengdu Road N, it is quite literally a "red" post office inside and out – decorated with brownish red colors, and crammed with a motley collection of knick-knacks and books that record big events and names in the CPC.
A red mailbox of an adult's height stands prominently on one side. It asks postmen to pick up mail at 4:23pm every day in tribute to the meeting that was held between July 16 and 23, 1922.
It is highly recommended to send off a post card exclusive to the site. Each post card is printed with a unique QR code which when scanned will allow the user to listen to a 30-second audio. It is also printed in braille for the visually-impaired to get to know the CPC's history.
In July 1922, the Second National Congress convened its first session in secret at the residence of Li Da, a major co-founder of the CPC, in the shikumen (stone-gate housing) neighborhood of Fudeli.
In the early 1920s, members of the ruling Kuomintang greatly outnumbered the newly-founded CPC which, in 1922, only had about 200 members across the nation. It forced the CPC to shelter in cramped shikumen to carry out its revolutionary work.
Comprised of rows of similar-looking shikumen buildings, Fudeli was a wealthy neighborhood situated where the former International Settlement and French Concession met. It became one of the few clandestine sites that survived police raids and hid secret meetings.
Over eight days, the 12 delegates released the Manifesto of the CPC and shaped the first CPC Constitution, which consisted of six chapters and 4,000 words.
They included major CPC co-founders Chen Duxiu, Zhou Enlai's classmate Li Zhenying and early CPC leader Cai Hesen, who was betrayed and executed for revolutionary activities at the age of 36.
In a footnote to history, late Chairman Mao Zedong was supposed to attend the meeting but he didn't make it. In a conversation with American journalist Edgar Snow in 1936, he said he just forgot the exact address and couldn't find any comrades to enlighten him.
Fudeli also witnessed the establishment of the People's Publishing House, which has survived to this day as one of the most reputable publishers in China.
It started as a one-man workshop, with Li Da serving as editor, proofreader and publisher. To prevent the publication from being discovered by the ruling Kuomintang government, Li was said to have nominated a fake address and disguised CPC propaganda leaflets as New Year's cards.
A memorial now stands on the site. Over the years, Jing'an has carried out several rounds of facelifts to renovate its appearance and upgrade its exhibitions. Notably, last year, it staged the "red" drama "Once Upon A Time in Fudeli."
The play depicts the persistence and sacrifice of patriots, revolutionaries and early members of the Communist Party of China a century ago, telling stories of its early days and China's winding journey toward national rejuvenation.
The play became a smash hit as a result of a nationwide tour. So, this year, Jing'an plans to introduce it to a wider audience and publish a book about Fudeli.