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Carrying the Communist Flag while Walking on the Capitalist Road

Carrying the Communist Flag while Walking on the Capitalist Road October 16, 2015
Carrying the Communist Flag while Walking on the Capitalist Road

Above: Museum exhibit depicting Mao and colleagues at the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party.

120 Hours in Shanghai

Daily posts and photos from ACM faculty and consortial staff during their site visit to the ACM Shanghai Program.
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Day 4 – Friday, October 16, 2015

Posted by Shiwei Chen (Professor of History and Asian Studies, Lake Forest College) and  Susan Long, (Associate Professor of Psychology, Lake Forest College)

On Wednesday afternoon, we toured the Museum of the First National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) with a group of international students from the Global Education Center of East China Normal University (ECNU). The museum combines exhibits about the history of modern China since the Opium War (1840), the history of the city of Shanghai, and the events surrounding the founding of the Chinese Communist party in 1921.

In July 1921, Mao Zedong and 13 other CCP members secretly gathered at that site to hold the first ever congress, marking the birth of the Chinese Communist Party. These revolutionary actions were in response to great corruption that followed earlier attempts to end feudalism and bring power to all members of Chinese society.

Museum exhibits about the Communist Party flag and the party’s founding.

What Mao and his compatriots accomplished is astounding. In the following 94 years, the CCP has turned itself into the world’s largest political party with a membership of 87.79 million as of 2015. The birthplace of the CCP is considered by the Chinese to be one of the most important historical places of the Chinese revolution.

The CCP Museum is located in the old French Concession area, a magnificent center of the city where the historical and cultural legacies of the old Shanghai can be sensed.  After having a brief tour of the Museum, we went out to glance over the area.

Next door to the CCP Museum is the most prosperous and most popular business district called Xintiandi, a fashionable pedestrian street, composed of Shikumen and modern architecture style. Xintiandi is a symbolic place in foreigners’ eyes, decorated by various kinds of international restaurants that offer the cuisines of Brazil, France, Italy, and Germany, and fashionable places for shopping, entertainment, and leisure. Looking at it, one gets the taste of both Shanghai in the 1920s and the sonic modern lifestyle of urbanites of the 21st century.

Emily Gaul (ACM, center) with Shanghai Program participants Queriontae Price (Ripon College) and Emily Powers (Knox College) in Xintiandi.

Recent economic reforms in China have changed various aspects of Chinese living standards, and the country is rapidly moving from a socialist economy towards a capitalist mode. During our travels, we’ve walked through four indoor luxury malls with the most expensive designer stores in the world.

Professor Hongmei Yu from Luther College, also traveling with us on this visit, described China as, “Carrying the Communist flag while walking on the capitalist road.” The French Concession area and CCP Museum together perfectly exemplify this march.

Photos courtesy of Shiwei Chen, Susan Long, and Emily Gaul.

120 Hours in Shanghai

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