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Do Not Forget the Past
In Memory of May 30 Movement

20 June 2010

The May Thirtieth Movement (五卅运动) occurred in 1925 during the Republic of China under the Nationalist Party that is now a provincial administration governing Taiwan. By then the big chunk of urban Shanghai was colonised by the aliens and ruled under Shanghai Municipal Council with the members all from the West, including the UK, the US, France and Germany. The local Chinese were excluded from the Council board.

Such outrageous arrangement was forged between the Western Powers and the Manchurians who, as alien invaders from Siberia, regarding the locals being their number one enemies and famously proclaimed that they’d rather to see China to be occupied even destroyed by foreign powers than to return it to Chinese people (宁赠友邦不与家奴).

But by then the Manchu’s Qing regime had been overturned for 10 years and the legitimacy of such arrangements was questioned, rightly, by the local Shanghainese from time to time.

Since February 1925 the conflicts between Chinese workforce and Japanese managements in 22 Mill factories run by Japanese, reputed for their cruel treatment of their workers, intensified. On May 15, Japanese at No. 7 Mill shot dead protest leader Gu Zhenghong (顾正红) and injured a dozen. The assault further angered Chinese, and 20 million workers from 11 Japanese-run Mills held strikes, protesting against foreign-run industries, particularly that of Japanese.

The newly established Chinese Communist Party urged the Chinese people to support the workers. In response to CCP's call, leftist students came to the streets to raise donations for the victims and their families and to promote the course of justice. But some students were detained by the Municipal police for the reason that they had created the disruption to normal everyday lives of the foreign residents.

On May 24, ten thousand people went to Gu Zhenghong's funeral at Worker's Club in Western District of Shanghai, which resulted another four arrest of the students when they passed the International Settlement on their way home.

On May 30, the day the Municipal Council was going to put the arrested Chinese on trail, leftist student groups organized the biggest anti-imperial demonstration the city had ever seen in history on Nanjing Road and The New World. The march was confronted and attacked by the Municipal police and over a hundred people were detained.

When the news about the foreign police crackdown on Chinese protest spread, thousands Shanghai residents surrounded the Old Gage Detention Centre (老闸门捕房)demanding the release of the arrested. The British police opened fire on the unarmed protesters, killing 13 with dozens injured.

June 1, Shanghai Workers Union was established and declared a general strike. 200,000 workers walked off the job, and 50,000 students walked out of class. The strike lasted for more than two months and bought the whole city to stand still.

The anti-foreign occupation movement quickly spread across China with 17 million Chinese workers, students and merchants taking part in the strike. Before long the wave of the protest reached the Chinese communities and beyond in more than 100 countries and was responded widely. In Moscow, 500,000 Russians held a rally to show solidarity with Chinese people in Shanghai; and in Briton, the workers refused to load cargo for ships bound for China.

The May 30 Movement became a landmark event in China's struggle for national sovereignty and workers' rights which eventually led to the establishment of the People's Republic of China that eliminated all foreign concessions in China, including in Shanghai. Well ...

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Gu Zhenghong (顾正红), a 20-year old workers leader and Chinese Communist Party member, whose death at the hand of Japanese led to the May 30 Movement.


Li Lisan (李立三), the commander-in-chief of the May 30 movement, who was one of the founders of the CCP and the head of Shanghai Workers Union.


Cai Hesen (蔡和森), the leader of the May 30 Movement and CCP member, who was the first one to use the term of "Paper Tiger", and was later killed by the Nationalist Government.

After the original memorial site was destroyed by the Japanese, in 1990 a new memorial structure was erected in the heart of Shanghai. The bronze sculpture is formed by two groups of entwined metal entities, one shaped into a Chinese character 五,Five for May, and another fashioned into 卅, for thirty. The image of the structure also implies how a victim died in the arms of his workmates, which is like a slice of condensed history heavy as bronze yet so sharp that cuts into the air, and so reflective that hurts your eye.


-- 殷夫

Those who forget history will be doomed to repeat it, beware!

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