Communist Takeover of Hangzhou
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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My idea of writing a book on the Communist takeover of Hangzhou came up in a conversation with a colleague at the University of Maryland, Shuguang Zhang, in the winter of 1997. As we discussed the current academic concern with a reconceptualization of the 1949 Chinese revolution, I came to believe that an empirical study of the experience of rural Communist cadres in Hangzhou in the ‘‘takeover period’’ would throw a new light on the nature and...
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The Communist takeover of China in 1949 brought the promise of fundamental political, social, and cultural transformation. This was to be accomplished through national unification under a government with an idealistic vision of the future mated to discipline and confidence borne of victory after twenty-eight years of bloody struggle. The West, for its part, was skeptical of the capacity of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to govern the newly...
1. On the Eve of the Takeover
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March 23, 1948, had special significance for Communist leader Mao Zedong. In the early morning, two hundred boatmen assembled at the mouth of a gorge at Chuankou village (the nearest crossing point to Communist headquarters at Yan’an) and began preparing to ferry Mao and his staff across the Yellow River.1 A year before, Hu Zongnan, a general in the GMD, had launched a...
2. Training the Cadres [Includes Image Plates]
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It was extraordinarily cold in January 1949. As the Huaihai Battle (around Xuzhou) was coming to an end, thousands of wounded GMD soldiers were dying of hypothermia in the snowy weather, making it hard for the PLA to clean up the battleground. The Communist victory in the battle, however, brought a warm feel of spring to Luzhongnan, where every household had paid a high...
3. The First Efforts
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The first group of Communist soldiers marched into the city of Hangzhou on May 3, 1949. As soon as they occupied the City Hall, the GMD’s blue sky–white sun flag was lowered. Without its own flag to replace it until October, however, the PLA raised a simple red flag to proclaim the regime change.1 It was obvious that the red color symbolized revolution. The flag without any design seemed to reveal that the new rulers had not yet made a definite plan for...
4. One Step Back, Two Steps Forward
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After coming to Hangzhou, the new city leaders moved into lavish villas on Shentang Street, facing West Lake.1 Through their windows they could see pleasure boats on the water and hear music from nearby gardens. The Western mansions on the shores of West Lake used to belong to the foreign and local rich; boating on the lake was also a privilege of the rich. From their windows, looking...
5. The Korean War and the City
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As it proceeds from the midtown of Hangzhou northward to the Tianshui Bridge or southward to the Song Family Bridge, the Zhongshan Road changes character.1 It gradually loses its bustle and noise and becomes quieter and cleaner. There were two Christian mission compounds at opposite ends of the road. Both the compound grounds included chapels, schools, and clinics. As a...
6. The Trial of Strength
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"To serve the people, the best cigarettes on sale."1 This was an advertisement in a grocery store window in Hangzhou. To link everything with revolutionary slogans, such as "to serve the people," was the fashion since the Communist takeover. To no one’s surprise, Communist discourse had a great impact on the urban dwellers. At the same time, some commercial concepts penetrated...
7. Women Cadres
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After the establishment of the PRC, the state-run film studios began to use a three-person image (male worker, soldier, and female peasant) as their new emblem.1 As Chinese movies were showing throughout the country, images of women repeatedly emerged on the screen to represent the Chinese peasantry. This emblem reflected a wide perception that associated Chinese women with...
8. The ‘‘Geneva of the East’’
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It was comparatively quiet in the city in late 1953 and 1954. The CCP’s original plan was to spend five years restoring the economy and then ten years developing it. Now the task of economic restoration was completed, and China’s First Five-Year Plan for the country’s industrialization was on track.1 In the suburbs of Hangzhou and in nearby counties, collectivization unfolded in keeping...
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The historical treatment of the Communist takeover of Hangzhou reveals a two-pronged approach toward socialism. First, in the new setting the Communist southbound cadres were saddled with all sorts of political and economic constraints and had to use the debris of the old order to build a new one. Second, in pursuit of their revolutionary goals, they initiated a gradual social...
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Publication Year: 2004