JI Weimin: Make Full Use of Red Culture Resources of Shanghai
Created On : 2017-12-25    Views : 283

Source: Jiefang Daily

Red culture is a comprehensive expression of Shanghai culture, involving not only the working class, born from urban industrial development but intellectuals who believe in "every man has a share of responsibility for the fate of his country". The two combined have become an important force fighting against imperialism and feudalism and for national liberation. The evolution of red culture is still in progress. It ran through the entire process of revolution, construction and reform led by the Communist Party of China, as well as the whole process of the development of modern Shanghai.

Recently, the Shanghai Committee of the CPC held a seminar that was aimed to further improve development ideas and plan for next year's work. Li Qiang, Secretary of Shanghai Committee of the CPC required us to firmly pursue the right development direction, strive to build the strategic superiority of Shanghai development, and go all out to promote the four major brands of the city, namely, Shanghai service, Shanghai manufacturing, Shanghai shopping, and Shanghai culture.

How do we promote the "Shanghai Culture" brand? To do that, we must make good use of the abundant valuable resources of the city, including red culture, Shanghai-style culture and the Jiangnan culture. We should strive to develop a competitive and influential cultural industry by giving full support for cultural displays, cultural performances, and cultural market development, in a bid to enhance the radial and cohesive force of culture and make the Shanghai business card even more shiny. As the birthplace and place of origin of the CPC, as well as the place where the Party started its dream, Shanghai has unique cultural resources and advantages in terms of digging into excellent Chinese traditional culture, inheriting revolutionary culture, developing advanced socialist culture, and telling a good China story.

It is no accident that red culture sprouted, developed, and spread in Shanghai

Shortly after the closing ceremony of the CPC 19th National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping led the other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee to pay respects to the site of the First CPC National Congress in Shanghai and the Red Boat on Nanhu Lake, Zhejiang Province. At the site for the First CPC National Congress, Xi Jinping and other members of the Standing Committee reviewed the oath of affirmation and proclaimed "never forget the beginning" of the red cultural complex.

It is no accident that red culture sprouted, developed and spread in Shanghai. In the early 20th Century, convenient traffic, developed printing industry, frequent international exchanges, and the rise of the national bourgeoisie and proletariat made Shanghai an important city for disseminating ideas, opinions and thoughts. All kinds of doctrines and theories came to the fore and sparked debate. Returned students such as Li Da, Li Hanjun, Chen Wangdao, and Shi Cuntong began research on and publicity of Marxism in Shanghai. In 1920, the Communist Manifesto, which was translated by Chen Wangdao and edited by Chen Duxiu and Li Hanjun, was published in Shanghai, making Shanghai a new center for publicizing Marxism at the time. Meanwhile, as a bridge, Marxist intellectuals in our country combined Marxism with the workers' movement. On this basis, Shanghai became the founding place of the CPC. This laid a foundation for the important position of Shanghai in carrying on red history and culture.

For nearly a century, red culture has always been the background of the city of Shanghai. The historical integrity of the red culture has become a major feature of Shanghai culture. It covers not only Shanghai in the revolutionary period, but the period of socialist construction and reform & opening up. After the founding of new China, Shanghai people worked very hard to support socialist construction nationwide, with a large number of advanced individuals and exemplary deeds emerging. Since the reform and opening up, Shanghai has become the vanguard of reform & opening up and the forerunner of innovation and development. It has become an important window displaying the achievements of China's modernization, highlighting the contemporary value of Shanghai's cultural resources, based on the red culture.

Three-dimensional display of the charm of Chinese cities in terms of artifacts, systems and spirit

As a leading city in the Yangtze River Delta and Yangtze River Economic Zone, Shanghai has a variety of cultural labels and positioning. It is China's economic, transportation, science & technology, industrial, financial, trade, exhibition and shipping center, as well as a cosmopolitan city, where a myriad of cultures from across the world assemble, and that boasts profound modern urban culture and numerous historical sites. From artifacts and systems to spirit, Shanghai has shown the unique charm of a modernized global city with Chinese characteristics. It has accumulated unique resources and advantages for digging into historical and cultural heritage, stressing urban cultural stories and creating a more vibrant, dynamic, and friendly city.

Shanghai is a treasure land with rich red culture. For example, Fuxing Park has more than 10 historical sites associated with the founding of the CPC. In addition, there are many other sites, such as the memorial hall in memory of the First CPC National Congress, Laoyuyangli No. 2, Bowen Girls' School and the old site of the leading bodies of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau. These revolutionary sites are a valuable cultural carrier of red culture, deserving great efforts to tap.

Since the 19th Century, Shanghai has been China's leading international metropolis. Especially after the reform and opening up, the city has been marching toward the goal of being a modern cosmopolitan socialist city and a science and technology innovation center of global influence. With its increasing cultural soft power and international influence, Shanghai's urban spirit has become increasingly evident.

Traditional Jiangnan culture has been the fertile soil where Shanghai has grown and thrived. Located in the estuary of the Yangtze River, the city is deeply influenced by the ancient civilization of Jiangsu and Zhejiang. From Hemudu Culture to Liangzhu Culture, Shanghai has thousands of years of history in culture development when Shanghai culture, Wuyue culture and Yangtze River Delta culture have grown and prospered. As long as we hear the soft Suzhou dialect, melodious Kun and Shanghai operas, feel the profound cultural atmosphere of cultural families, walk into the deep and winding alleys in towns in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, we will naturally think of Shanghai's unique cultural charm, which features the urban spirit of "tolerance, pursuit of excellence, open-mindedness, sagacity, modesty and grand momentum" and the urban cultural connotation of "all-inclusiveness, cleverness, practicality, pragmatism, daring to be the first and to surpass itself". These profound historical contexts and rich cultural connotations that, not only extend the traditional essence, but embody the spirit of the times, have become a proper meaning for highlighting cultural self-confidence and extracting cultural stories.

To promote the "Shanghai Culture" brand, the key lies in whether we can touch the heart of people.

Shanghai is uniquely endowed with cultural resources and advantages and deserves full exploitation and utilization. To this end, I’d like to offer the following suggestions:

First, red culture should play an essential part in guiding and promoting development of contemporary Shanghai culture, and we should provide high-quality "ingredients" and top-grade "kitchens" for literary and artistic creation, and cultural production.

In some literary and art works, Shanghai is most often described as a metropolis infested with foreign adventures or associated with office love. In fact, regarding Shanghai culture as an equivalent to urban culture or white-collar culture will inevitably cover up the red culture, which to some extent reflects the issue of cultural leadership. Red culture is a bright spot on the spectrum of Shanghai's urban spirit. To activate the vitality of contemporary Shanghai culture, we should make the red culture as the main body, and the traditional culture and urban culture as the wings.

Second, call together research efforts to systematically explain the connotation of Shanghai's red culture and create a modern symbol that is able to arouse a sense of identity and is easy to spread.

The connotation of Shanghai red culture should be comprehensive, deep, and three-dimensional. We cannot simply equate the red culture at the beginning of the revolution with the underground party culture, nor can we see the contemporary Shanghai culture the same as the "small era" culture. Both are detrimental to the image of Shanghai, as a city with a rich and profound cultural background.

Red culture is a comprehensive expression of Shanghai culture, involving not only the working class, born from urban industrial development, but intellectuals who believe in "every man has a share of responsibility for the fate of his country". The two combined have become an important force in the fight against imperialism & feudalism and for national liberation. The evolution of red culture is still in progress. It ran through the entire process of revolution, construction, and reform led by the CPC, as well as the whole process of the development of modern Shanghai. It is embodied in spirit, material and behavior, and is always in practice.

Therefore, it is necessary to call together professionals from universities, research institutes and revolution museums to form a strong synergy, dedicated to red culture research. We should, based on realistic care, endeavor to form distinct characteristics of Shanghai's red cultural studies by focusing on the red theme represented by the pioneer spirit.

Third, dig into the red cultural resources to create more touching literary works.

In the effort to carry forward Shanghai red culture, special attention should be paid to avoid two kinds of mistakes in literary and artistic creation. First, thinking that literature and art should be far away from politics, just be indifferent to big events, and just focus on stories of romance. Second, thinking it’s easy to promote a major theme of the times. For them, it is just shouting slogans. That results in empty language, lack of typical life details, originality and innovative artistic conception, as well as poor performance.

It should be noted that without fresh aesthetic taste, even a major theme can be rendered mediocre. Distant from political consciousness and mainstream values, some of the young will grow more and more indifferent to the future of the country and its people. Decades ago writers like Lu Xun and Mao Dun combined their own literary creation with social reality with the revolutionary practice led by the Chinese Communist Party. From reality, they drew creative themes, breathed in creative inspiration and strength, and made achievements a great part of the work. On that basis, they got the inspiration to write one great literary work after another. Today, contemporary China is undergoing extensive and profound social changes, and is going through ambitious and unique innovative practices. We need to learn this realistic cultural spirit, and must never fail to live up to the new opportunities in the new era.

The development of Shanghai offers a wealth of modern cultural themes and resources, providing a colorful space for literary creation of various styles. All can develop their skill to the full, such as through the mediums of documentary literature, film and television programs, stage performances and other forms. For example, there are no works devoted to the preparation for the founding of the Communist Party of China, and the Youth League in Yuyangli, and the three armed uprisings by Shanghai workers. I have to say that is a regret.

In fact, to promote the "Shanghai Culture" brand and strengthen publicity of red culture, the key lies in whether we can touch the heart of the people. We must consciously try to meet the cultural needs of young people, identify the breakthrough point of network communication, make full use of the three-dimensional joint forces of social forces and publicity, so that more young people are willing to know about and even get close to Shanghai's red culture and history.

Fourth, improve the culture marketing platform to promote development of Shanghai's red culture industry.

The development of cultural industry is an inherent requirement of economic and social development, as well as an acting point for strengthening cultural construction in the new era. To inherit and develop red culture, Shanghai should make active efforts in the field of cultural industry.

It should be acknowledged that the red culture industry in Shanghai is mostly displayed in the form of static exhibitions in memorial halls, and on sightseeing tours of red scenic spots, lacking adequate participation and interaction. How can we activate the precious red culture resources so that part of the industry can be industrialized? That is worth in-depth study by professionals. For example, can we explore the possibility of applying virtual technologies, to enable tourists and spectators to experience the hardships of underground workers back then? Can we integrate the former residences & memorial hall of revolutionary martyrs with tourist resources in ancient towns along the lower reaches of Yangtze River? Can we take steps to further enhance experiences and interaction in the museums? In addition, although the gap in the level of facilities between Shanghai and New York, London and other global cities is narrowing, there is still much room for improvement in cultural soft power and public opinion dissemination.

In brief, as a modern cosmopolitan city, Shanghai enjoys unique advantages and possesses the power and strength to make red culture a flagship industry. To promote "Shanghai Culture", the rich red culture is a valuable resource for us to make full use of. At the same time, we must vigorously develop competitive and influential cultural industries, and enhance the radial and cohesive force of culture, so that the business card of Shanghai culture will be shinier.


(The author is a member of the Academy Affairs Committee of Shanghai Academy and a research fellow with the Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Science; Shao Yao, assistant research fellow with Institute of Journalism and Communication, Chinese Academy of Social Science)