The area now known as Zhidan County was formerly known as the town of Bao'an (Chinese: 宝安, Wade-Giles: Pao An) (corresponding to the urban core of today's Zhidan County). The town of Bao'an appears in many contemporaneous works and articles discussing the Chinese Civil War. The historical significance of the town of Bao'an arises due to itshaving temporarily served as the capital of the Communist-held regions of China in the midst of the Chinese Civil War. From early July 1936 to January 1937 Bao'an was the site of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) Central Committee headquarters, as well as that of the Chinese Communist military forces.
Journalist Edgar Snow visited the communist leaders in Bao'an in the summer and fall of 1936, and named the third part of his book Red Star Over China after this town. He described the town as follows:
Pao An was once a frontier stronghold... Remains of its fortifications, flame-struck in that afternoon sun, could be seen flanking the narrow pass through which once emptied into this valley the conquering legions of the Mongols. There was an inner city, still, where the garrisons were once quartered; and a high defensive masonry, lately improved by the Reds, embraced about a square mile in which the present town was located.
In 1937, Yan'an (Wade-Giles: Yenan) replaced Bao'an as the capital of Communist-held China.
The modern name of the county, Zhidan, takes its name from Liu Zhidan, military strategist and high-ranking leader of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army who died fighting for the communist side in 1935.
- Edgar Snow, Red Star Over China. Multiple editions. Part Three: "In 'Defended Peace'".
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