Shanghai Today

Education Exchange

Students learn of their university's place in history - May 23, 2019


As the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Shanghai approaches, more than 50 students at Shanghai Jiao Tong University had a special history class on Tuesday delivered by history professor Liu Tong while walking in the campus.
Liu recently published a book on how the Communist Party of China liberated and stabilized Shanghai between May 1949 and May 1950.
He first led the students to the tomb of Shi Xiaowen and Mu Hanxiang, two former Jiao Tong students arrested and killed by Kuomintang.
“The month before the liberation was called the ‘darkest and hardest time before dawn’,” Liu told the students. “On an early morning 70 years ago, the armed Kuomintang police rushed into the university and arrested more than 50 teachers and students, including Shi and Mu, who were later killed secretly.”
Liu said Wang Zhizhuo, then president of the university, had called Mao Sen, the city’s police chief at the time, trying to rescue them, but Mao denied the arrest of the two students.
Their bodies were later found by the schoolmates with help from some local workers and buried on the campus.
In May 1950, the then Shanghai Mayor Chen Yi wrote an inscription on their tombstone: “Sacrifice for the good of all the people is worth commemorating for ever.”
After mourning for two minutes for the two martyrs, Liu led the students to another important site on campus — the Engineering Hall.
“The building was the first place the officials of the Communist Party of China tried to stay after they entered Shanghai,” said Liu.
He said Mayor Chen, then commander of the third field army of the People’s Liberation Army, had asked another CPC official Zhou Lin where to stay. Zhou said they would go to Shanghai Jiao Tong University first and split up to take over different parts of the city.
“They arrived in suburban Nanxiang of Shanghai on the evening of May 25 and early morning of May 26 by train, then they drove into the city,” said Liu. “It was raining. They did not occupy the dorms for teachers and students. Instead, they stayed their first evening in Shanghai in the lecture room on the second floor of the engineering building. But Chen did not stay there. He and some other top leaders moved to the then St John's University, now East China University of Political Science and Law, to meet up with ‘underground’ Party members.”
Chen was also very strict with his troupe, requiring the soldiers not to enter citizens’ houses.
Therefore, after the battle, when local citizens opened their doors on the morning of May 27, they surprisingly found the liberation army soldiers sleeping on the streets.
“But I checked a lot of archives and found they only slept on streets for one day,” said Liu. “After the first day, they found houses to live in.”
Officials handed out a book called “General Knowledge about the City” to soldiers to help them adapt to city life. The book included very specific instructions, including how to take a bus and how to use electric lamps and flush toilets, as well as how to avoid thieves and frauds.
The Kuomintang government handed the city over to the Communist Party of China on May 28 and Chen Yi, as the first mayor of Shanghai of New China, soon brought stability to the economy and life of the city.
“Many people wondered whether the Communist Party of China could manage the city well, but it overcame difficulties and reestablished the city in one year, with its close connection with the people and brave innovation in city management,” said Liu.
“Shanghai is now a flourishing metropolis and tremendous changes have taken place in the past 70 years, but we can still learn from the spiritual legacy of our predecessors,” Liu said at the end of the walking tour.
“I knew roughly that our university had played an important role in the history of New China, but had no idea about the details,” said a student surnamed Zhang. “I like the special class. It’s very impressive to visit the real sites to hear about the historical stories that happened here.”

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