In 1921, thirteen delegates, including Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, Chen Gongbo and Mao Zedong (who attended as a delegate of the Hunan Communist group), met in secret
in a Shikumen house at 76 Xingye Lu to hold the first national congress of the Communist
Party of China. Only a week later, the party was forced to move to Jiaxing
after investigations from police in the then French Concession. Today, the
renovated building is open to the public as a memorial to the birthplace of China’s
The front lobby is an expansive, almost
empty room with the Chinese flag looming large over a floral arrangement
depicting the building itself in red and yellow. It’s the only room in the
historical building that allows photos so feel free to snap away.
Up the marble stairs is the grandly titled ‘Exhibition
of the Historical Relics Showing the Founding of the Communist Party of China’,
which mainly consists of hundreds of revolutionary items ranging from the ‘leather-padded
wooden chair in meeting room of the board of directors of Shanghai Municipal
Council of International Settlement’ to pajamas worn by Yang Fengting. The
amount of objects is a tad overwhelming, especially with much of it propaganda,
but the well-laid out exhibition has plenty of well-translated, interesting
English descriptions and leaves us with a greater knowledge of the early days
of The Party.
The highlight of the exhibition is no doubt
the wax-figure reproduction of the scene of the first national congress. All thirteen attendees are replicated with Mao Zedong standing, leading the meeting. The models
are a tad lifeless but makes the visit slightly more interesting than staid
images and descriptions.
While elsewhere the house is mostly roped
off, the first meeting place is worth a quick stop for anyone wanting an easy way
to learn more about China’s
political background. For serious history-buffs, check out the Site of the
Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China at No. 30, Lane 7, Chengdu
Lu, near Huaihai Lu.