Qu Qiubai

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瞿秋白
Qu Qiubai
Qu Qiubai.jpeg
Personal details
Born (1899-01-29)29 January 1899
Changzhou, Jiangsu, Qing Dynasty
Died 18 June 1935(1935-06-18) (aged 36)
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Qu.


Qu Qiubai (Chinese: 瞿秋白; pinyin: Qū Qiūbái; Wade–Giles: Ch'ü1 Ch'iu1-pai2) (January 29, 1899 – June 18, 1935) was a leader of the Communist Party of China in the late 1920s.[1] He was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China.

Early life[edit]

Qu was born in the southeast corner of Changzhou, Jiangsu Province. His family lived in a building named TianXianLou, and the building was located in a lane named QingGuo. Qu's father, Qu Shiwei. Qu Shiwei was born in a downfallen family which used to be powerful and glorious. He was good at painting, fencing, and medical knowledge, but was not interested in other things, particularly politics and business. Qu's mother, Kim Xuan, the daughter of elite government officials, was skilled in poetry. Qu had five brothers and one sister, of which he was the eldest. When Qu was young, his family lived in his uncle's house, being supported financially by relatives. Though Qu’s father took a job as teacher, he was unable to earn enough money to support his family due to an opium addiction. In 1915, Qu’s mother, overcome by her life's mounting difficulties and debts, committed suicide.[2]

In 1916, Qu went to Hankou and entered Wuchang Foreign Language School to learn English with the support of his cousin. In the spring of 1917, Qu went to Beijing to apply for a job, but did not pass the general civil service examination. Without enough money to pay for a regular university tuition, Qu enrolled in the newly established Russian Language Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (俄文专修馆), since it was tuition-free. The institute also offered a stipend and held the promise of a job upon graduation.[2]

Communist Party involvement[edit]

Qu worked hard in the language institute, studying both French and Russian during class time, and spending his spare time studying Buddhist philosophy and classical Chinese. Both was an interest he had cultivated since childhood, as well as the works of Bertrand Russell whose discussion of physics and perception seemed reminiscent of Buddhism to Qu.

His earliest contacts with revolutionary circles was during his participation in discussions of Marxist analysis hosted by head librarian at Beijing University Li Dazhao. The future military leader and chairman of China Mao Zedong was also present at these meetings. Qu later took a job as a journalist for a Beijing newspaper Morning News (晨報) and was relocated in Moscow as a correspondent, even though this would jeopardize the career in civil-service that his earlier training was prepared for. Qu was one of the first Chinese to report from Moscow about life in Russia during and after the Bolshevik Revolution, where he observed the harshness of living conditions. While in Russia, he also visited Leo Tolstoy's home at Yasnaya Polyana with Tolstoy's granddaughter Sofya, saw Lenin addressing a group of delegates, heard Feodor Chaliapin sing Alexander Pushkin's poems set to music, and witnessed Pyotr Kropotkin's funeral.[3]

In January 1923, Qu accepted the invitation from Chen Duxiu, leader of the Communist Party of China at that time, to come back from Russia. After returning, Qu was responsible for the propaganda work of Communist Party of China. In 1927 after the fall of Chen Duxiu, he became acting Chairman of the Chinese Politburo and the de facto leader of the party. He organized actions such as the Guangzhou Uprising of December 11, 1927.[4] In April 1928, Qu went to Moscow once again and worked as a delegate of the Chinese Communist Party for two years. In 1930, after being dismissed as Chinese Communist Party representative in Russia, Qu returned to China only to be dismissed from the central leadership. This was all due to an intense argument about the means by which the revolution should be executed. Following his dismissal, Qu worked both as a writer and a translator in Shanghai, fought along with Mao Dun and Lu Xun and forged a profound friendship with leaders of left-wing cultural movement.

Death[edit]

In 1934, the situation became increasingly dangerous and Qu could not stay in Shanghai any longer, so he went to the Central Revolutionary Base Area, Ruijin in Jiangxi province. When the Red Army began the famous Long March, Qu stayed in the south to lead the bush fighting. Arrested in Changting, Fujian in 1934, Qu was imprisoned by Kuomintang a year later. During his arrest, Qu was tortured by the KMT government, who adopted various means to induce him to capitulate, but Qu was persistent in his beliefs and refused. On the day of his execution,18 June 1935, Qu walked calmly toward the execution place, Zhongshan Park in Changting, singing "The Internationale", the "Red Army Song", and shouting "Long live the Chinese Communist Party", "Long live communism" and other slogans. After reaching Luohanling, a small hill in Zhongshan Park, Qu chose a place to sit down on the grass, smiled and nodded to the executioner, saying "very good here!". Qu was only 36 years old when he was shot dead.[5][6]

During his arrest, Qu wrote a book named Superfluous Words to express his political thinking and his change from literatus to revolutionist. The book caused controversy after his death.

Legacy[edit]

Qu was heavily criticised as a "renegade" during the Cultural Revolution. However, the Central Committee absolved him in 1980 and today he is held in very high regard by the Chinese Communist Party. A Qu Qiubai museum operates in his native town of Changzhou. Tsi-an Hsia (Chinese: 夏濟安, Chinese: 夏济安) describes Qu in The Gate of Darkness: Studies on the Leftist Literary Movement in China (published 1968) as "the tenderhearted Communist". Qu and a Russian counterpart, V.S. Kolokolov, were responsible for the early development of the Sin Wenz system of Mandarin romanization.[7] Qu also translated the official Chinese version of The Internationale, used as the anthem of the Communist Party of China.[8] Qu was one of the major Chinese intellectuals to emerge from the May 4th Movement, and one of early Communist Party members who established the spirit of the revolutionary movement in China. He is also widely remembered as an emotive poet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ people's daily
  2. ^ a b "Qu Qiubai - The first Chinese to Translate "The Internationale"". Cultural China. Retrieved 23 March 2013. 
  3. ^ Spence, Jonathan (1981). The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Penguin Books. p. 178. 
  4. ^ Thomas Kampen (1999). Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and the Evolution of the Chinese Communist Leadership. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. p. 34. ISBN 87-87062-76-3. 
  5. ^ zh:瞿秋白 2011.6.18
  6. ^ http://baike.baidu.com/view/1807.htm 2011.6.18
  7. ^ 新文字 Sin Wenz 2011.6.18
  8. ^ http://history.cultural-china.com/en/59H7594H12613.html 2011.6.18