A Brill Calendar: July 23
Few political parties were launched as timidly as the Chinese Communist Party, on July 23 1921.
The modest affair, with some dozen men attending, didn’t intend to generate a lot of publicity; least of all amongst outsiders to the brand-new Chinese Republic.
The aftermath of The Great War and the Versailles Peace Conference implied great changes for China’s relations with its main neighbours: Japan, and Soviet Russia, still awaiting the first lustrum of the Red Revolution. It was a formidable task to address the turmoil during the beginnings of a national revolution after the patriotic student demonstration – and the ensuing rioting – of May 4 1919.
Under such conditions it is seldom that Chinese tradition allows foreigners to partake in deliberating for action; but during this First Congress of the Chinese Communist Party – in Shanghai, not Peking – the Dutchman Henk Sneevliet (1883 – 1942) played a vital role. A radical Marxist already well before the War, Sneevliet had been active in the Labour Movement in Holland as well as in the Dutch East Indies since 1912, where he organized a revolutionary political party, the ‘Partai Komunis Indonesia’ PKI, before being banished from the colony as an agitator in December 1918. Via Lenin’s Comintern - the trans-national communist organization founded in 1919 - Sneevliet reached China under the name ‘Maring’ (or ‘Ma Lin’), preaching solidarity with revolutionary movements of emancipation throughout Asia. The People’s Republic still honours him as a hero of the first hour.
There is a Chinese saying to the effect that all foreigners are blind to business; excepting the Dutch who have one eye for it, while any Chinese has of course two.
2013, May 17
2013, April 11
2013, April 11