Party branch established by Mao Zedong leads villagers to prosperous life

The former residence of late Chairman Mao Zedong in his home village of Shaoshan, central China's Hunan Province, receives more than 10,000 visitors every day.

The former residence of late Chairman Mao Zedong in his home village of Shaoshan, central China's Hunan Province, receives more than 10,000 visitors every day.

It was also in the attic of this concave building that Mao Zedong, who aspired to find a path to save the nation, led the establishment of one of the earliest branches of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the country's rural areas.

The once secluded, outlying small village has now turned into a bustling town and is a perfect witness of how the CPC has led the development of the nation and changed people's lives.

Mao Zedong was born in 1893 in Shaoshan Village and stayed there until leaving his hometown for the first time at the age of 17.

At the time, there was a huge wealth gap in Shaoshan Village. Poor farmers and farmhands accounted for 71 percent of the population but only owned 5.8 percent of the land.

He once told American journalist Edgar Snow that a revolt started by famine refugees which was brutally suppressed in Changsha in 1910 "had a lifelong influence" on him.

Mao Zedong said that he felt deeply aggrieved at the injustice that the starving people had suffered.

Mao Zedong was one of the early members of the CPC.

In 1925, Mao Zedong came back to Shaoshan. In mid-June of the year, four villagers swore to join the Party in a ceremony presided over by Mao Zedong in his attic, and the Shaoshan Party branch was officially established. This was the first rural grassroots Party organization established by Mao Zedong.

Mao Yushi, 76, who was the 24th Party branch secretary of Shaoshan Village, has witnessed the great changes in his hometown.

Since the middle of the 20th century, the Party branch of Shaoshan has organized various activities including the one that aims to increase the literacy of local villagers, and mobilized farmers to build water diversion canals and reservoirs to ensure stable yields from farmland.

In the early 1980s, Shaoshan began to put into practice the household contract responsibility system, which significantly raised grain output.

With the rise of red tourism, which refers to visiting historical sites with a modern revolutionary legacy, tourism in Shaoshan boomed and became a pillar industry that has helped many locals get rid of poverty.

Mao Hailong, 41, opened a homestay in 2019 which brought the family an income of 1.8 million yuan (about 278,460 US dollars) the same year.

According to Mao Hailong, the Party and the government helped his father run a restaurant over three decades ago and he also enjoyed support from the government in running his homestay. The local government even offered subsidies to encourage villagers to transform their dwellings into well-decorated homestays.

Shaoshan Village, which is home to 1,355 households, now has 36 homestays and over 80 restaurants. About 70 percent of local villagers are involved in tourism industry.

"Our well-off life today has been earned through the efforts of several generations," said Mao Yushi.

The total annual collective income of the village has reached 11 million yuan. The money is used for purchasing health insurance for all villagers, giving pensions to people aged 60 or above, rewarding students admitted to the college and helping those in need.

Tang Ruiren joined the Party at the age of 84 in 2014, which drew a lot of attention. The former mendicant now runs a restaurant chain with over 300 franchisees. She has also sponsored and helped more than 2,000 dropouts return to school.

The number of Party members in Shaoshan Village has increased to 219.

"Our common goal is to make sure that every one here leads a good life," said Mao Chunshan, who took over the post of village Party chief from Mao Yushi in 2017.

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