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May 5, 2021

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Restored historic site reopens

THE site of the Second National Congress of the Communist Party of China reopened to the public yesterday after a 169-day renovation.

The site, in the former Fudeli shikumen (stone-gate) neighborhood on Laochengdu Road N., Jing’an District, was home to founding CPC member Li Da, who moved into building No. 625 with his wife Wang Huiwu in April 1921.

Comprised of rows of similar-looking shikumen buildings, Fudeli was a wealthy neighborhood near the former international settlement. It became one of few remaining clandestine sites that survived police raids and shielded secret meetings.

On July 16, 1922, 12 CPC delegates gathered in secret at Li’s house to attend the second national congress. Over eight days, they drafted the first CPC Constitution, consisting of six chapters and 4,000 words.

Over the past 20 years, the site has been renovated and expanded several times. The latest renovation began last November.

The site’s facade facing Yan’an Road M. — featuring eight doorways, 16 brick columns and lintels — has been restored to the way it looked when it was completed in 1915 to welcome the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC in July.

“In previous renovations, workers just coated cement on original clay bricks. It’s like daubing paint on human faces. It’s stuffy,” said Wu Gongbao, a veteran renovator of old buildings.

“So in the first phase of the latest renovation, we washed away layers of ‘makeup’ from the facade. Then, we used natural limestone and incorporated traditional methods used by workers about a century ago to repair it.”

The site opened with an exhibition yesterday that highlights the shikumen style. Photos of the delegates are displayed on a glass wall, through which visitors have a view of a typical shikumen neighborhood lane on the other side.

The conference room was recreated based on Wang’s memory. It was simple with a table and some chairs. During the meetings, Wang held her newborn daughter and kept watch outside. A depiction of the meetings can be seen in artist Yu Xiaofu’s oil painting.

For the first time, visitors can also take in a 360-degree view of the early People’s Publishing House on a digital screen.

In September of 1921, Li established the People’s Publishing House here, which is still one of the most reputable publishers in China. It started as a one-man workshop, with Li serving as editor, proofreader and publisher.

To prevent the publication from being discovered by the ruling Kuomintang government, Li printed a fake address and disguised CPC leaflets as New Year’s cards.


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