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The small red boat that rode the wave of history

By MA ZHENHUAN in Hangzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2021-05-20 08:58
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The Red Boat on Nanhu Lake in Zhejiang province's Jiaxing is an icon in the history of the Communist Party of China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The founding of the Communist Party of China was announced by members aboard the vessel on a lake in Zhejiang province

From a traditional building in Shanghai to Nanhu Lake in Jiaxing, a small red boat bore the great trust of the people and the hope of the nation.

That boat has sailed through turbulent rivers and treacherous shoals and voyaged across violent tidal waves, becoming a great ship that navigates China's stable and long-term development.

One hundred years ago, the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China was concluded on a red boat on Nanhu Lake in Jiaxing city, Zhejiang province.

It was there that the founding of the CPC was announced. It was the starting point of the Party's centurylong journey and also the beginning of great changes for China and its people.

In 1915, a generation of intellectuals, including Chen Duxiu and Lu Xun, launched the New Culture Movement in a bid to modernize the nation. Li Dazhao, a pioneer of the Communist movement, became Marxism's flag-bearer in China.

In March 1920, Chen and Li, a founding member of the CPC who helped pave the way for China's revolution and the May Fourth Movement, initiated Marxism theory research institutes in Beijing and Shanghai. The institutes gradually established contact with thinkers in provinces and places such as Hubei, Hunan, Zhejiang, Shandong, Guangdong and Tianjin and began planning the Party's founding.

In June 1921, two representatives of the Communist International organization arrived in Shanghai and advised that a congress of party representatives should be held as soon as possible.

On July 23, 1921, the first CPC National Congress was held at 108 Wangzhi Road (now 76 Xingye Road) in Shanghai. Thirteen delegates, including Mao Zedong and Dong Biwu, attended the meeting.

From July 23 to 30, the congress held six sessions. However, on July 30, the meeting had to be suspended when police searching for the venue in the "French Concession" came precariously near. The meeting was quickly relocated to Jiaxing, where it resumed for a final day on the famous red boat on Nanhu Lake.


It was on the red boat that the congress, after adopting the Party's program and electing a central management team, proclaimed the founding of the CPC.

To the Party's more than 91 million members today, Nanhu Lake is more than just a scenic attraction — it is the CPC's physical birthplace.

In October 2017, the CPC's newly elected top leadership, headed by General Secretary Xi Jinping, visited Nanhu Lake, where they vowed to stay true to the Party's original aims and serve the people.

Xi discussed patriotic education at the revolutionary site, saying that the red boat symbolizes the Party's spirit of bravery in taking the lead and its devotion to the people.

It was his first domestic trip after the 19th CPC National Congress, which elected a new Central Committee and drew up a blueprint for the country's development in the coming decades.

Now, the red boat and Nanhu Lake have become a museum and a symbol of the CPC's revolutionary spirit, attracting more than 8.92 million tourist visits over the past five years.

"More tourists are expected to go sightseeing around Nanhu Lake as China races toward July, which marks the 100th anniversary of the CPC's founding," said Zhang Yi, a commentator at the Nanhu Revolutionary Memorial Hall.

Echoing Zhang, Yuan Jing, a National People's Congress deputy and guide at the hall, said that before the recent two sessions, the annual meetings of the country's top legislative and political bodies, she had seen many people come to learn more about Party history and the founder members' original aspirations.

"As young Party members, we should learn from the senior members' spirit of sacrifice to accomplish a great undertaking and take serving the country and society as a way to realize our personal value," she said.

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