WHY THE RED STAR SHINES OVER CHINA: The Surging Xiangjiang River II–The Forerunners of the CPC

BEIJING, June 23, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A news report by China.org.cn on the early life of Mao Zedong in Changsha: 

To the people of China, Changsha is a city of heroes. Mao Zedong, who saved the Party’s cause several times, spent his youth studying, living and working here. This is also where Mao Zedong Thought was formed.

The New People’s Study Society was later known as the forerunner of the Communist People of China. In an interview, Mao said that the Society was to have a widespread influence on the fate of China.

The site of the founding meeting of the New People’s Study Society (Xinmin Xuehui), located in Changsha, was also the former residence of Cai Hesen, an early leader of the CPC.

In 1917, Cai went to Changsha to study and lived with his family in rented accommodations. It was there where his schoolmates, Mao and Xiao Zisheng, often talked freely about transforming Chinese society. On Apr. 14, 1918, the New People’s Study Society was established at Cai’ home.

The New People’s Study Society was a significant social organization in China at that time, which aimed to "reform academics and boost morals." In the second year (1919), the May Fourth Movement broke out, and then they revised the society’s purpose to "transform China and the world."

In order to achieve such a purpose, Mao made a division of labor for the society’s members. Some of them stayed in China for investigation to learn more about the national conditions. Others, such as Cai Hesen, Xiao Zisheng and Li Weihan, went to France to work and study to look for ways to transform China and the world.

While working and studying in France, Cai Hesen translated a large number of Karl Marx’s works and wrote letters to Mao in China. In letters dated August 13th, and September 16th, 1920, he proposed "establishing the Communist Party of China without fear," stating the theories and steps needed for the Party’s founding. Mao replied, "This is a very good idea, and I could not agree more."

Mao, who stayed behind in China, started the Xiangjiang River Review in Changsha in July 1919. He was the chief editor, introducing and spreading new ideas. Li Dazhao believed that this was the most important and insightful periodical in China. Several progressive youths such as Ren Bishi, Guo Liang, and Xiao Jinguang began to awaken under its influence.

These members had great ambitions. They studied hard and took active exercise to make full preparations for shouldering greater responsibilities.

Many people in the New People’s Study Society became the first batch of CPC members. It can be said that the society prepared talents for the founding of the CPC, and among them a Communist leader.

In 1921, the New People’s Study Society completed its historical mission and ceased activities. However, that did not mean the end of their efforts to push the revolution forward.

The No. 22, Qingshuitang, was later recognized as the exact address of the former secret base of the CPC in Hunan-the then CPC Hunan Region Revolutionary Committee, and also the former residence of Mao Zedong and Yang Kaihui.

In July 1921, after attending the First National Congress of the CPC, Mao and He Shuheng returned to Changsha and began preparations for the establishment of local Party organizations in Hunan.

In October 1921, the CPC Hunan Branch was established, the first provincial Party branch in China. Mao was elected as secretary, He Shuheng, Yi Lirong as committee members.

Mao spent more than one year in Qingshuitang. It was the happiest and most romantic period in Mao’s revolutionary career. He had old parents and young kids by his side. His two children, Mao Anying and Mao Anqing, were both born there.

There were only few members in Hunan branch at that time. Later, the number of Party members grew steadily. In May 1922, approved by the CPC Central Committee, the CPC Hunan Region Revolutionary Committee was officially established.

During this time, Mao organized the workers’ movement, the peasants’ movement and the students’ movement, to propagate Marxism-Leninism and the Russian October Revolution. One of his major achievements during this period was the Anyuan Miners’ Strike, in which the management gave in to the workers’ demands. In this strike, Liu Shaoqi negotiated with the management, Li Lisan presided over the labor union, and Mao was the general leader.

In July 1923, the third National Congress of the CPC was held in Guangzhou. In this meeting, Chen Duxiu, the leader of the CPC, made a speech on the work of the Party branches. Speaking highly of the Hunan Committee’s performance, Chen said that only comrades in Hunan had done a good job.

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