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He Shuheng: a man of allegiance and integrity

By | nxiang.net| Updated:  Jun 03,2021 L M S
He Shuheng, a representative of the Communist Party of China's First National Congress and one of the founders of the CPC, once said that, “the one who is eager to live must live a meaningful life and never muddles along without any aim”, from which we see his persistence in his belief and goal.

He Shuheng was born in 1876 in a peasant family in Ningxiang, Hunan province and in 1902 he became a scholar, who then was arranged to take charge of finance and grain, but he refused, due to his resentment of the corruption in the local government. Finally, he went home to till the land and teach at an old-style private school. Although ridiculed as a “poor scholar”, his integrity won the praise of the villagers.

Later in 1909, thanks to the establishment of new schools in the New Reform of Qing Dynasty, He was able to teach literature and history in Yushan Primary School and began to read books of new thoughts, which allowed him to learn Sun Yet-sen's democratic thought and modern scientific knowledge. When the Revolution of 1911 broke out, he took the lead to cut off his braids and persuaded men to follow him and women to stop foot binding.

He went to Changsha in 1913 and applied for the Fourth Normal College (incorporated in the First Normal College the next year) regardless of his age, which greatly surprised the school principals. However, he said, “I lived in a remote place before, where people still cling to the past practices and know little about new things so I am eager to learn something new.”

Although the eldest in the school, He took an active part in youth activities and made friends with Mao Zedong who was 17 years younger than him. Later, he taught in a middle school in Changsha and became the head of the provincial general education institute, through which he began to publicize new culture. In 1918, He, as the eldest member, joined the famous youth league Xinmin Institute initiated by Mao Zedong and others, and he worked with a sure hand there.

At the beginning of 1921, there was a discussion on which doctrine should be applied to “change China and the world”, in which He clearly expressed his opposition to the anarchism and support for Marxism. He was dismissed from the head of the education institute by Hunan warlord on a charge of propagating radicalism in June 1921. Later in July, he and Mao left for Shanghai to attend the first National Congress of the CPC.

After the failure of the Great Revolution in 1927, He went to Shanghai in disguise and was sent to a special class at Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow. At that time, he was over 50 years old, but he still managed to learn Russian and studied revolutionary theories. He returned to Shanghai in 1930 and became the head of the National Benefit Society, which aimed to provide secret assistance for the comrades in distress.

In 1931, He went to Ruijin, Jiangxi province, where he served as minister of the Ministry of Supervision and chairman of the provisional court in Chinese Soviet Central Provisional Government. Later, due to his disapproval of radical anti-rebellion policy, especially against the excessive imposition of the death penalty, he was dismissed from all his posts on a charge of right deviation.

In the autumn of 1934, He made two pairs of straw sandals overnight and applied to take part in the Long March but was rejected by Wang Ming and some others. The reason was that the Party organization had decided to let him stay in the Soviet area to help the township government with mobilization work. Despite his depression, he still worked hard with his walking stick from morning to night without any complaint.

In early 1935, the Central Soviet area was occupied and the Party organization sent a team to escort He to the west of Fujian province, but unfortunately, he died bravely on February 14 at the age of 59. Before the death, he made a final oath that he would shed the last drop of blood for Soviet.

“The upright man who died bravely will never be forgotten,” the poet Xiao San made such a comment to praise He's noble deeds and spirits.

The former residence of He Shuheng, located in Shatian Town, Ningxiang, Hunan, enjoys a pleasant scenery with a green hill on the back and beautiful water in the front. Today, more than 50,000 visitors come here to visit and study each year.  This place has become a base for patriotic education and has been listed as the Classical Scenic Spots of National Red Tourism. Moreover, efforts are being made to build it into a training base for red legal culture education and a base for red educational excursions.

Relying on the red resources and ecological advantages, five major industries has been developed in Shatian including high-quality rice cultivation, livestock and poultry breeding, red tourism, medicinal materials cultivation, and food processing. Besides, all the three poverty-stricken villages and the 898 poor households in the township have shaken off poverty last year. At the historical crossroad of the “Two Centenary Goals”, Shatian has taken on a new look, with a new picture of rural revitalization unfolding.