Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The Power of Propaganda

In 1941 Mao forgot when the CPC was founded and chose the date instead
History lesson, folks. When was the Communist Party of China founded?

Chinese leaders would like you think it was on July 1, 1921, but the reality is that it was on July 23, 1921.

The wrong date is apparently due to Mao Zedong's bad memory and the senior Chinese leadership not being sticklers for detail.

July 1 just sounds easier to remember and what do you know! It coincides with the same day as the handover of Hong Kong back to the motherland!

The actual date is July 21, 1921 in Shanghai in this building
While historians know the exact date, the general public don't thanks to intense propaganda about July 1 thanks to outdoor billboards and news media propagating the date.

However, according to a Russian-language document of the Communist International, published in June by the Party Literature Research Office, 12 people -- 10 Chinese and two Soviet organizers -- attended the party's founding congress in Shanghai on July 23, 1921.

That document was held by the Soviets and with having to fight the civil war and the Sino-Japanese war, Mao didn't really remember the official day.

When he was living in the caves in Yan'an, Mao wanted to commemorate the party's 20th anniversary in 1941, but forgot the exact date. He wrote to Zhang Baijia, deputy head of the Party History Research Office, according to an article published in May in History Reference, a magazine belonging to People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper.

"No one remembered the opening date of the first party congress," wrote Zhang. "They just remembered it was in July so they decided on July 1."

Even Hu Jintao propagated the date of July 1 in 2011
For historian Zhou Xun at the University of Hong Kong, the mistake matters.

"This is a good example of how the party makes up all kinds of things, such as events, historical figures, and how they eliminate facts. It's just a constant thing," she says.

For someone like then President Hu Jintao in 2011 to declare the Communist Party of China was founded 90 years ago on July 1 -- the wrong date -- "is pretty amazing, really", she adds.

So if you hear or read the Communist Party of China was founded on July 1, 1921, it's factually wrong. Yes, Mao was wrong.

And no one was brave enough to correct him or successive leaders...

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