We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Communist Takeover of Hangzhou

James Z. Gao

Publication Year: 2004

Existing literature on the Chinese Revolution takes into account the influence of peasant society on Mao’s ideas and policies but rarely discusses a reverse effect of comparable significance: namely, how peasant cadres were affected by the urban environment into which they moved. In this detailed examination of the cultural dimension of regime change in the early years of the Revolution, James Gao looks at how rural-based cadres changed and were changed by the urban culture that they were sent to dominate. He investigates how Communist cadres at the middle and lower levels left their familiar rural environment to take over the city of Hangzhou and how they consolidated political control, established economic stability, developed institutional reforms, and created political rituals to transform the urban culture. His book analyzes the interplay between revolutionary and non-revolutionary culture with respect to the varying degrees with which they resisted and adapted to each other. It reveals the essential role of cultural identity in legitimizing the new regime and keeping its revolutionary ideal alive.


Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


pdf iconDownload PDF (36.2 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (29.7 KB)
pp. ix-x

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...


pdf iconDownload PDF (21.3 KB)
pp. xi


pdf iconDownload PDF (295.7 KB)
pp. xii-xv

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.4 KB)
pp. 1-10

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...

read more

1. On the Eve of the Takeover

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.4 KB)
pp. 11-41

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...

read more

2. Training the Cadres [Includes Image Plates]

pdf iconDownload PDF (7.0 MB)
pp. 42-64

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...

read more

3. The First Efforts

pdf iconDownload PDF (148.0 KB)
pp. 69-97

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...

read more

4. One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

pdf iconDownload PDF (140.7 KB)
pp. 98-124

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...

read more

5. The Korean War and the City

pdf iconDownload PDF (146.6 KB)
pp. 125-153

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...

read more

6. The Trial of Strength

pdf iconDownload PDF (152.5 KB)
pp. 154-184

"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...

read more

7. Women Cadres

pdf iconDownload PDF (151.2 KB)
pp. 185-215

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...

read more

8. The ‘‘Geneva of the East’’

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.8 KB)
pp. 216-244

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...

read more

9. Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (104.3 KB)
pp. 245-262

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...


pdf iconDownload PDF (214.8 KB)
pp. 263-310


pdf iconDownload PDF (885.8 KB)
pp. 311-314

Selected Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.3 KB)
pp. 315-325


pdf iconDownload PDF (103.8 KB)
pp. 327-336

E-ISBN-13: 9780824861957
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824827014

Publication Year: 2004