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Visiting the Chinese Communist Party museum

Kornelius Purba

The Jakarta Post

Beijing | Tue, February 27, 2018 | 10:11 am
Visiting the Chinese Communist Party museum

The first National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held in this building on Xingye Road in Shanghai, or Rue Wantz in its French name, in July 1921 and attended by Chinese founding fathers including Mao Zedong. (Shutterstock.com/EQRoy )

The modest gray brick museum is located on Xingye Road in Shanghai, or Rue Wantz in its French name. The first National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held in that location in July 1921 and attended by Chinese founding fathers including Mao Zedong. The Communist Party was born here.

The museum is surrounded by capitalist restaurants offering French and Italian cuisine. As Indonesians who had been told by Soeharto’s government since childhood that communists are Indonesia’s most dangerous enemy, we initially felt scared to enter the historic site. Security checks were tight but carried out in a relaxed mood.

Tens of young Chinese students were waiting in line with us. Our passports were also checked. 

Read also: China: A trip to remember

It was relaxed inside the museum. Young people were listening attentively to their teachers or guides. I could not understand their language, but their body language showed they did not have any special sentiment. It was just like visiting any other museum.

Elderly visitors, however, showed a different attitude. They expressed deep respect and even admiration when the history was explained to them. I saw an old man who refused to wave his hand as his daughter requested when she was taking his picture. He stood like a soldier instead.

There was a relief sculpture of the party’s founding leaders. The role of Mao was very dominant from the very beginning. We needed about a one hour tour to gain a better understanding of the role of chairman Mao in China’s history. China was very poor under Mao’s revolution.

“We were more or less in a poverty situation similar to that faced by North Korea now,” said a young woman. She had just finished her studies at a state university in Beijing. 

People here are very proud of China’s rising role in the global economy and of the fact that it is just a matter of time before they can replace the United States as the world’s largest economy.

My impression is that Chinese young people are no longer very interested to join the party. Apparently, only civil servants or those who work for Chinese state companies are still obliged to become a party member. Those we met during our time in China were not interested in communism as an ideology, such as was the case two decades ago.

How about Indonesia? Communism is apparently still very effective in attacking the government or people from different political camps. Is it a real ghost?

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