Shanghai Today

Shanghai People

One man's journey through momentous history - May 23, 2019


The recently released diaries of Minhang’s first Communist Party chief reveal an honest man caught up in a turbulent era of politics.
Zhu Jixian, who died in 2001 at age 92, was named Party chief of what was then Shanghai County after the People’s Liberation Army marched in and wrested it from Kuomintang control on May 15, 1949.
A native of Shandong Province, Zhu held the office for six years before being transferred to the Songjiang District. He retired to the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province in 1982, where he served as president of the Suzhou Teachers Training School.
Zhu’s children said their father was an honest and trustworthy man, perhaps even too honest for his own good. He became embroiled in political purges during what is known as the “red period.”
“He once was detained in a suburban area,” said Zhu Wei, Zhu’s eighth child. “When I visited him, he made a small keyboard with pen and paper, and ‘played’ while he sang. I don’t know why, but the scene stayed with me for a long time.”
Here are the excerpts of the diary.
Excerpt 1
In January 1949, I received notice from the Party committee of Binbei in Shandong Province that I was to be one of the members “marching south.”
My wife Zhuang and I were very happy with the news because it meant the Party trusted us. Zhuang asked for leave, and we sent our three children to my parents.
Our army, along with hundreds of new soldiers, marched through Xuzhou, Xin’an, Muyang, Huaiyin and Gaoyou. We stopped at Pingchao Town for a break and had a meeting. At the meeting, I was assigned to be Party secretary of Shanghai County.
When we reached Wuxi, I saw the region south of the Yangtze River for the very first time, and it indeed was a good place. People lived in tile-roofed houses and women were all dressed beautifully.
No area of land was barren, and the people were engaged in textile manufacturing and raising silkworms. I had heard that region was a land of honey and milk, and, seeing it with my own eyes, I was very impressed.
Excerpt 2
On May 27, we reached Shanghai County and contacted local underground Party members. They gave us a tour around the government buildings, schools, warehouses and hospitals. We took control of all those places.
An order went out saying that existing banknotes could not be used as legal tender to buy anything.
We needed to start over on everything, and everything was complicated. The Kuomintang government had fled and taken with it almost all documents. There were only a few old files left. Our first job was to read through the files that remained and familiarize ourselves with local conditions.
During that initial period, many of us never went home. We slept in our offices. We had to deal with spies and enemies who were still active in the area. For a long time, we were lucky to grab three hours of sleep a day.
In July, I sent someone to go to Xuzhou to pick up my wife and children. At that time, all government officials lived in the same block as our offices. My family was assigned a two-story residence with three rooms on each floor. On the second floor were the master bedroom, my office and the office of the publicity department. The children and a maid lived downstairs.
Excerpt 3
In 1950, land reform began. Landlords were ordered to register their holdings. In the Maqiao area, one landlord fled outside the city and left his concubine to deal with officials.
The officials thought the woman was concealing the true extent of her master’s holdings and decided to bring her back to the office for further interrogation. No one could have guessed that she would commit suicide.
The incident provoked a crisis. The result was quite tough. All the leaders of the Shanghai County government received an official “warning,” and Wang Mingbao, director of what was then the Maqiao District, was removed from his post.
We confiscated more than 80,000 mu of lands (5,333 hectares) from landlords and rich farmers, and more than 70,000 mu were redistributed to farmers who had no land or only small lots.
Excerpt 4
Life was hard after we arrived in Shanghai, but soon, the improvement in living conditions seemed to corrupt some Party officials.
In 1952, the county Party committee held a banquet at which several officials became drunk.
Later, during visits by a North Korean delegation and a team from the Soviet Union, the county Party committee threw very sumptuous banquets in their honor, and, again, many local officials got very drunk.
Local people seemed to be growing dissatisfied with us. We ordered rounds of self-criticism to improve Party discipline.

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