Raised red: Party membership through three generations

By Zhang Lulu
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, July 1, 2016
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Editor's note: July 1st marks the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC). We talked to a number of Party members about why and how they signed up to the Party in the first place and how membership has changed their life.

Ye Xinzhu, an 81-year-old member of the Communist Party of China. [Photo by Mariah Breeze/China.org.cn]

Ye Xinzhu, an 81-year-old member of the Communist Party of China. [Photo by Mariah Breeze/China.org.cn]

For the 81-year-old Ye Xinzhu, being a member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) is like the air she breathes every day.

She joined the CPC in 1956 when she was 21 years old. She didn't tell her family about it until being admitted, leaving her mother overjoyed when she heard the news. "She ran all over the neighborhood to tell all our neighbors about it," she said.

Ye was first impressed with the Party during the Chinese Civil War, also known as the Liberation War, in the 1940s. The capital city Beijing was under the reign of the Kuomintang (the Nationalist Party) before 1949 and the CPC only came to power after 1949.

"When the Kuomintang was there before the Liberation War, they often borrowed things from our families but never returned them. And when they came and asked my mother to cook pancakes for them, they never returned the flour. My mother always had to hide our flour from them, though it didn't work." Food and other necessities were rarities in the 1940s in China, especially for Ye's working-class family of seven people.

"So, later when the Eight Route Army came and borrowed things, my family and our neighbors were quite unwilling at first. But we were really impressed after seeing them return things at exactly the time they said. And all our cookeries they returned were fresh and clean! I'd never seen an army do that!" recalled Ye. The Eight Route Army, which later constituted the People's Liberation Army, was led by the CPC.

"I was in my formative teenager years then, so that registered deeply in my mind," Ye said.

When Ye began working at the National Planning Committee (which later became the present-day National Development and Reform Commission, China's economic planner), she found that most of her co-workers were CPC members. Living in the dorm provided by the committee, Ye and her colleagues, who were slightly older than her, bonded immediately.

"They often took us younger girls to the dances held in nearby parks. We would dance among ourselves, really enjoying the moment." For Ye, the sense of community and the wish to learn from her "more politically conscious" co-workers encouraged her to join the Party.

"Being a Party member means you care for the country and its people more than others do," Ye said, recalling all the work she has done to help the people around her.

Sixty years into Party membership, the grey-haired member said she still cares for the Party.

Being tech-savvy, she likes to read political news online and on WeChat (China's answer to WhatsApp and Facebook) to keep herself posted on what's going on in the country.

"What have I gained most (from joining the Party)? I would say political consciousness. When I see unjust things happen, I prefer not to look on with folded arms… I have always followed the calling of the Party my whole life," she said with pride.

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