Statue Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai Shanghai Residence, Puxi
China's most revered leader during the Mao years, Premier Zhou Enlai (1898-1976), used to stay at this ivy-covered house when he visited Shanghai in 1946. His old black Buick is still parked in the garage. The backyard has a small courtyard garden, where there is a statue of Zhou. The house was used more as an office than residence, and it served before the revolution as the Communist Party's Shanghai office. Zhou kept a spartan room on the first floor (his threadbare blankets are neatly folded on the bed); newspapers were produced on the second floor; and a dorm was maintained in the attic. Signs are in Chinese only.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, left, outside his house, and Mr. Zhou Enlai, standing in the front garden of his home, both of which are located on the same street. Xintiandi is filled with elegant brick buildings and the streets are lined with trees, which had a Western feel to it, not surprising since it was part of the French Settlement. The congress site was situated in a building that was part of a complex with alleys running through with expensive and foreign restaurants, including a Paulaner Munchen. There was a preserved Shikumen house, distinct multistory houses that were built in the late 19th century and unique to Shanghai, a (more elegant) counterpart to Beijing’s famous hutongs. A little farther away from Xintiandi were the homes of modern Chinese political giants, Dr. Sun Yat-sen and Zhou Enlai. They both lived in spacious 2-storey homes on Sinan Road, but with completely different interiors. Dr. Sun’s home, where he lived from 1918 to 1924 (his wife lived there until 1937), was quite elegantly furnished with wooden planks and tasteful furniture where Zhou’s home was very spartan with basic furniture and no real decor. Actually the home was the Shanghai branch of the CCP after the end of World War II and before the Civil War got underway so it wasn’t intended to be a luxurious residence. Several captions inside the home highlighted, describing how austere and dedicated so-and-so was in not demanding better quarters etc. Unfortunately no photos were allowed to be taken in both homes and there were many security guards around. Right across from Zhou’s house was where KMT agents monitored his activities from another house, an indicator of the suspicions that the KMT and CCP had towards each other that would lead to the Civil War. Despite Shanghai’s lack of a long history in comparison to cities like Beijing or Hangzhou, it does have an important role in recent Chinese history. In addition to being a major trading port after being made a foreign concession port (foreign powers were given land that they had complete control over and allowed to trade) in the late 19th century, Shanghai was the site of the first congress of the Chinese Communist Party and both Sun Yat-sen and Chou Enlai lived here, though at different times. The specific place was Xintiandi, where all around where the first congress took place, ironically, there is a lot of fancy buorgeoise establishments like expensive restaurants and pubs are (joking about buorgeoise of course, I’m no communist). The site of the first CCP congress was alright even though I had not initially planned on coming here. I expected it to be propaganda central; but while it’s no surprise the place was portrayed like a revered ground and the congress attendees, including some guy called Mao, were painted in highly heroic terms, major history really did happen based on the outcome of this congress. The attendees were all in danger throughout and even had to sneak out and flee at the end to escape the KMT authorities. To be honest, many historical sites in China contain some form of propaganda whether it be exaggerated and slanted viewpoints on events or simply omissions. This is a pity because a nation cannot fully earn the respect of its people if it doesn’t allow itself to be criticized even looking backwards. Anyways back to the tourism sites and enough of the political pondering for now.