A Constellation of Elites Gathered at Sanzengli, The World Dawned Till Today

Released on:2016-12-29


The 3rd National Congress of the CPC Marked Its Heritage

From June 12 - 20, 1923, the 3rd National Congress of the Communist Party of China was officially convened at No. 31 Back Street of Xuguyuan Road, Dongshan, Guangzhou. The central subject of the congress was implementing inner-party cooperation with KMT, and establishing revolutionary united front. The 3rd National Congress of the CPC adopted the guideline of establishing revolutionary united front by mobilizing CPC members and Socialist Youth League members to join KMT, and put forward several measures including preserving CPC’s independence and developing the mass force in national movement. In the big revolutionary tide, the 3rd National Congress of the CPC plays a crucial role of inheriting the past and ushering in the future, and carrying forward the tradition and forging ahead into the future. The Congress elected Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong, Luo Zhanglong, Tan Pingshan (succeeded by Wang Hebo), Cai Hesen and others to form the Central Bureau, execute the Party’s policies, and preside over day-to-day work of the CPC Central Committee. Initially, the Central Bureau had its office in Guangzhou, yet due to Guangzhou’s inconvenient transport conditions, the CPC Central Committee decided to relocate the Central Bureau back to Shanghai, a big city with the highest concentration of industrial workers across China, and selected a lane named “Sanzengli”, located near the intersection of Xiangshan Road (today’s Linshan Road) and Gongxing Road, Zhabei, and adopted a typical 2-storey & 2 ground Shikumen building as the office of the Central Bureau, and put out a “Guan Juan Hang” plaque as cover.

Three reasons determined the selection of “Sanzengli”: Firstly, it was close to Shanghai-Nanjing Railway North Railway Station, with easy access to railway and highway, which was suitable for timely adjustment in work; secondly, factories abounded in the surrounding areas, and there were a large number of workers and the mass in the vicinity, which could facilitate workers’ movement; thirdly, Zhabei area featured an extremely solid political foundation, and the then Zhabei was one of the earliest areas where Shanghai’s working class took shape, with the number of party members accounting for half of total in Shanghai; besides, there were two party groups in Shanghai University and the Commercial Press, making it one of the key areas where the Communist Party of China carried out revolutionary work in Shanghai in its early days.

Revolutionary Accomplishments Inside Guan Juan Hang

From September 1923 to June 1924, merchants near Gongxing Road in Zhabei occasionally would mention that, a small lane, namely “Sanzengli” with only three street numbers, which was previously home to three households surnamed Zeng, now was home to three brothers surnamed Wang, the shop they opened, which was called “Guan Juan Hang”, could provide customs clearance service for customers by filling out customs forms in foreign languages. All patrons of that shop said the three brothers were gentle and courteous, they were attentive and meticulous when completing customs clearance forms, yet they seemed to be somewhat shy and not very talkative. Besides, the wives of the brothers stuck to the straight and narrow and were rarely seen in public places.

Amid merchants’ casual chatting, behind the normal business of Guan Juan Hang, the true “Sanzengli” showed brisk and lively work scenes, as it was the venue of the Central Bureau Office after the 3rd National Congress of the CPC. The front wing-room housed Mao Zedong and Yang Kaihui couple, the back wing-room sheltered Cai Hesen and Xiang Jingyu couple, and the rooms upstairs accommodated Luo Zhanglong. Along with Chen Duxiu and Wang Hebo who often visited, these important leaders in the early days of the Communist Party of China gathered together, convened meetings, held discussions, compiled documents, drafted resolutions, and wrote articles for “Guide”, the organ of the CPC Central Committee, more often than not they worked continually and contemplated serenely till very late in the night. Nevertheless, all comrades at Sanzengli never felt tired, never relaxed vigilance, and they often conducted criticism and self-criticism to improve work. Life at Sanzengli was energetic and high-spirited.

No dining out, no watching dramas and movies, no photography outside, no shopping, and no unauthorized access. These unwritten “Five Nos” were followed conscientiously by comrades living in Sanzengli, creating peaceful and ordinary scenes on the surface, but surging undercurrents and gathering talents under the disguise at the Central Bureau Office. The robust development of the Communist Party of China kept forging ahead with irresistible momentum amid everyone’s concerted and unyielding efforts.

In The Human World, Who Knows Me Better Than You

“Waving my hand, I part from you. How can I bear to face you sad and drear, telling me your sorrows anew?” In February 1924, after temporarily leaving Shanghai to return to Hunan on official business trip, Mao Zedong returned to Sanzengli again, and what he could give his wife Yang Kaihui was only “Congratulations to the Bridegroom”, a poem full of deep affection. At a moment when the nation was facing danger and ruin, personal paltry sentiment after all must give way to huge responsibility of the age. From the moment he stepped into Sanzengli, Mao Zedong was even unable to squeeze out time to miss his wife, instead he devoted himself whole-heartedly to the magnificent CPC Central Bureau work with tumultuous struggles. Against the macro background of first KMT-CPC Cooperation, in order to promote the intricate preparation work of KMT grassroots organization, Mao Zedong needed both all-conquering perseverance and tit-for-tat wisdom. The first step in the preparation work involved re-registration and review of old KMT members. This work raised the hackles of imperiously arrogant KMT diehards, and met with deliberate resistance from them. In the face of difficulties, the young Mao Zedong adhered to the principles, never compromised, kept clever, flexible and persevering, and ensured the registration and review work receive satisfactory results.

In the early summer of 1924, Yang Kaihui also came to Sanzengli, and this revolutionary couple once again stayed together. “A three-drawer writing desk stood under the window facing the courtyard. The bedroom was in the middle, a white mosquito net brought from Hunan was propped up over the bed with bamboo poles; in the middle of the bed, there was a square desk, on which Chairman Mao wrote articles”. In such crude setting, two hearts throbbed in uniform rhythm for sharing the same common goal through thick and thin. Even when accompanying her beloved husband, Yang Kaihui did not indulge herself in the happiness of a small family, instead she selflessly cooperated with her husband and other comrades, and dedicated herself to the dynamic workers’ movements and women’s liberation work. She opened night schools for women workers, studied teaching materials, compiled teaching syllabus, and preached revolutionary truths. In Mao Zedong’s words, speaking of the so-called “Red Couple” in this world, it is none other than you and me.

Beginning from the autumn of 1923, and ending in the summer of 1924, the revolutionary history of “Sanzengli” might be brief, but the sparks ignited by the Central Bureau Office after the 3rd National Congress of the CPC remained alive for a long time to come. Talking about resurgence in Shanghai in the spring, rushing waves in Huangpu River fell like snow mountain; a constellation of elites gathered at Sanzengli, the world dawned till today.

(Source: Zhabei Revolutionary Historical Materials Exhibition Hall)