Tale of two Chinese pioneering women
“Nini and Bobo, mother is calling out to you,” she said while kissing the photo of her two children goodbye minutes before being executed. On the way to the execution grounds, she sang out in support of her faith in the Communist Party of China(CPC). But her mouth was stuffed with rocks and a belt was tied around her neck killing her in cold blood.
Xiang Jingyu, who was born in Hunan province in 1895, sought to liberate men and women from the chain of feudalism. Cherishing the spirit of humanity and ethical code, she campaigned fearlessly for the rights and liberties of the Chinese and dedicated her life to sow the seeds of anti-colonialism on China’s soil.
In 1920s, Xiang joined the CPC in Shanghai and attended its Second National Congress, where she was elected as a Central Committee member and served as the director of the CPC Women’s Bureau. She also advocated women’s liberation movement.
In her letter to Chairman Mao Zedong, Xiang is cited as saying, “From now on, we will soar in our pursuit of keeping up with current trends; we must not fall behind. There are limits to our physical energy, and they may keep us from achieving our goals.” Then, she went on to say, “Only through unflagging effort will we gain the victory!”
Even though Xiang was executed by the Kuomintang in 1928, her faith was not shaken. Xiang embodied the peaceful spirit of CPC and devoted her life for the sake of her nation and public freedoms, which inspired Mao Zedong to commend her during the International Women’s Day celebration in 1939.
The second woman whose death left a vacuum in the life of Chinese women was Miao Boying, a pioneer of women’s liberation and the first female member of the CPC. Miao served as head of the women’s committee of the Eastern Shanghai Committee of the CPC. She also advocated women’s movement and the noble spirit of CPC. She, along with her political proponents, established night schools and societies for workers and backed them in their strikes. Miao called on women to “follow the progressive route of humanity, work hard and march toward a better future.”
Afflicted with typhoid, Miao, the mother of two children, told her spouse He Mengxiong, “It is terrible that I cannot die in the battlefield! Mengxiong, take good care of our children so they will grow up to carry on my work.”
Visiting the site of First National Congress of the CPC this year – which marks the 97th birthday of the party – in Shanghai, I felt the souls of the two heroines. That is to say, this site unleashes the memory of selfless men and women, mainly Xiang and Miao, and their wholehearted devotion to the CPC. It is understandable that CPC, the world’s largest political party with 89.56 million members, is the fruit of the struggles of those politically dedicated individuals who embraced death to preserve their dream for a free and peaceful society where all could exercise their rights and liberties without fear. With these fearless men and women, who laid the cornerstone of the Party so that the future generations could carry on their dream for realizing national rejuvenation and building a harmonious society.
The souls of these two heroines speak to the visitors of the Site of First National Congress, in Xingye Road, Huangpu District. This building, preserved as museum, bares its soul to tourists about the history of China and waxes eloquent about the brave men and women, including Xiang and Miao.
Chinese women have been playing a highly instrumental role in the social, political, cultural and economic arenas of China. Similar to their male counterparts, Chinese women won blaze of glory in the wake of their loyal acts and humane behaviors. For example, Wang Huiwu, Li Da’s wife, supported the first body of 13 delegates including Mao Zedong to hold their meeting in the South Lake to her hometown so as to give birth to the Party. When the delegates were holding their meeting in the Red Boat, Wang sat at the bow on lookout. Thus, the Communist Party of China was born of a small boat while a woman was on guard.
The unshakeable faith of Chinese women in their national values and social and political activities fills me with wonder. I am neither feminist nor the Party member, but I am not able to hold my tears when I picture a 33-year-old woman who comes out of prison, leaves her two children behind to protect her faith in national values and ensure the rights, liberty and dignity of her nation for the future generations.
The author is an Afghan journalist and freelance writer based in Beijing.