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Historical Figures - FENG Naichao

Last updated :2012-11-10

A Monument of Characters, A Model for Posterity

Mr. FENG Naichao was an excellent member of the CCP, a proletarian cultural fighter, revolutionary activist and educator, while at the same time an influential modern Chinese poet, writer, literary critic and translator.

A Brilliant Life

While studying in Japan in 1926, Mr. FENG Naichao joined the Marxist reading club and art society, a peripheral organization of the Japanese Communist Youth League. He abandoned his study and returned to China in 1927 to take part in revolutionary work. Introduced by Mr. Pan Hannian, he was admitted to the Chinese Communist Party in September 1928. He was a major member of the famous literary society, the Creative Society, in its later years. He worked together with Lu Xun and others in preparing to set up the Chinese Leftist Writers’ League (abbreviated as the “Leftists’ League”), drafted it “theoretical outline” and acted as the first Secretary of the Party and League and Minister of Propaganda of the “Leftists’ League” after its founding. In February 1931, he became Secretary of the Culture Committee of the Propaganda Department of the CCP and Secretary of the Party and League of the General Association of the Chinese Cultural Leftists (including the “Leftists’ League, the “Socialists’ League”, the “Dramatists’ League, the "Artists’ League and other leftist cultural societies under the leadership of the CCP. In March the same year, the organ newspaper of the Central Committee of the CCP, the Red Flag Weekly, was severely destroyed, so Mr. Feng was transferred to restore the newspaper, in charge of technological editing. In early 1932, Mr. Feng (under the alias of Feng Zitao) went to work under Li Shucheng, member of the Hubei Government of the Nationalist Government and director of the Bureau of Construction, also his father-in-law, collecting intelligence for the Communist Party. In 1938, instructed by Mr. Zhou Enlai, Mr. Feng and other prepared to set up the National Anti-Japanese Association of the Chinese Literary and Artist Circles (abbreviated as the “Literary Association”), and he had been Secretary of the Preparatory Committee, member standing member of the Council of the Literary Association. In April the same year, Mr. Feng became Secretary of the Special Branch of the CCP in the Third Bureau of the Political Department presided by Guo Moruo under the Military Committee of the Nationalist Government. In October 1940, he became the Communist Party Secretary of the Culture Committee, and in 1942 he became a member of the Culture Committee in the Southern Bureau of the CCP, then consultant to the CCP delegation in the negotiation between the nationalists and communists in Chongqing. In January 1946 he was deputy leader of the cultural group under the Southern Committee of the CCP, and in May he was appointed member of the Shanghai “Working Committee” and secretary of the “Culture Committee”. In October the same year, he was appointed member and secretary of the same committees in Hong Kong. Since spring 1949, he was successively member of the Preparatory Committee for the National Conference of Literary and Artist Workers, member of the High Education Committee of the Northern China People’s Government, member of the Party Committee to the Conference and director of the Examination Committee of Qualification. He attended the first section of the CPPCC.

After the founding of the PRC, Mr. Feng was successively deputy secretary-general of the Culture and Education Committee and director of the Personnel Office in the State Council of the Central People’s Government, director of the Organization Office in the Propaganda Department of the CCP, member of the Committee of Disciplinary Inspection and secretary of the Culture and Education Committee directly under the Central Committee of the CPC. In September 1950, he became Vice Minister of the Ministry of Personnel and head of the Fourth Bureau. In January 1951, he was appointed vice president of Zhongshan University. Later he had been first secretary of the Party Committee of the university, first secretary of the Committee of Higher Education in the Guangdong Committee of the CPC, member of the Guangdong Committee, deputy director of the Culture and Education Division of the Guangdong Committee. He was elected representative to the first National People’s Conference, the eighth National Conference of the Communist Party of China, vice chairman of the Guangdong Committee of the CPPCC, member of the fourth and fifth National Committee of the CPPCC, and member of the first and fourth National Committee of the China Federation of Literary and Art Circles. He was transferred from Zhongshan University to become consultant of the Beijing Library in 1975. He died in Beijing in September 1983 at the age of 83.

Think light of fame, benefit and status

In the early 1950s, Ye Jianying wrote a report to the Central Committee of the CPC, asking for Mr. Feng to be transferred to the South Bureau. Learning about this, the Culture and Education Committee of Guangdong also sent a report to the Central Committee to invite Mr. Feng to fill the position of Party secretary of Zhongshan University. The University needed a member of the CPC, the report said, who was highly capable and understood the intelligentsia well to be the secretary, because the university was personally created by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and has its geological location and special status in the field of education.. Premier Zhou Enlai explained to him in person, saying that the transfer would mean lowering his position without any fault on his part and inquiring about his opinion. Mr. Feng said, “All these do not matter since it is the need of revolutionary work.” An old comrade who was very familiar with Mr. Feng said that Mr. Feng had been too modest with himself. He himself was a famous literary figure, yet he was doing unification and organizational work unknown to all during the Anti-Japanese War and the Liberation War; in the early years of the New China, he was once directing the Ministry of Higher Education, yet he went to work in Zhongshan University, which was under the leadership of the Ministry. Mr. Feng smiled and said, “All wish to perform on stage, who will do the work backstage? All would like to work in the Central Government, who will work in local areas? All want to lead others, who will do the jobs as told? So long as it is revolutionary work, why bother about these?” Comrade Feng Naichao was just the kind of person who was modest and discreet, thinks light of fame and benefits, not conceited about one’s success and work hard.

Cherish the people’s hard work and oppose to special treatment

Comrade FENG Naichao came to Zhongshan University in February, 1952. Not long after his arrival, he cancelled the service of domestic worker and special car. When he went to the city for meetings, he either took the school bus or shared a car with others. Feng Naichao said, “I do not attend meetings in the city every day. I am just being practical.”

In 1957, Mr. Feng and his wife went to the sanatorium for high-ranking officials in Qingdao for a rest. It happened that their only child returned home from the Soviet Union and went to Qingdao happily to visit her parents there. She planned to draw sketches of the beach for ten days. On the fourth day of her stay, Mr. Feng asked their daughter to go back to Beijing, saying to his daughter, “The reception house for family members is now full of people who came to visit and stay on for one or two months, no one is willing to leave. The house finds it a hard nut to crack. I am a senior leader, and should set an example for others. You are also a member of the CPC, don’t you agree with this?” From the bottom of her heart, the child wanted to stay with her parents for some more days, but what her father said was reasonable, so she was reluctant to part with her parents. Not long after she arrived in Beijing, she received a letter from her father, criticizing her for being wasteful with half a bottle of mixing oil and dozens of pushpins left over in Qingdao. Comrade FENG Naichao was just the kind of people who are not only self disciplinary but also demandingly strict with the descendants.

Emphasize training of talented persons and disciplinary construction

There were 7 schools, 33 departments, 3 colleges and 13 research institutes, 180 professors in Zhongshan University before the adjustment of colleges and schools in the nation. It was a brand-name comprehensive university with complete academic programs in arts, law, science, technology, agriculture, medical and teachers’ education and strong faculties. After the adjustment, there were only 8 departments and 85 professors left. Facing this severe situation, Comrade FENG Naichao seized the two key factors of talent training and disciplinary construction. He often said, “A comprehensive university is the sign of a country’s culture and science, which is a place of both concentration and training of senior intellectuals. Its task and main objective are training talented persons in research and teaching in theoretical or fundamental sciences, hence a good faculty is the most important.” For this purpose, a series of measures were taken: first, to invite talent persons, such as professor Pu Zhilong, an entomologist from South China Agriculture College, professor Long Kanghou, an expert on chemistry from South China Polytechnic, professor Xu Xiangong, an expert on chemistry from Fudan University to teach in Zhongshan University; second, to assign assistants to experts and scholars; third, to create opportunities for the faculty to study abroad; fourth, to improve the living and working conditions of the faculty; and fifty, to admit some teachers into the Party. In disciplinary construction, the South-east Asia Research Institute was set up in the history department, focusing on studying Thailand, the Philippines and others; the Modern and Contemporary Literary Research Institute was set up in the Chinese Department; and the Entomology Research Institute in the Department of Biology. All these brought profound changes in the University.

Consolidate the Party by actively admitting new members

When FENG Naichao came to Zhongshan University, the CPC remained in the secret state and was still weak. On April 19, 1951, the branch committee of Zhongshan University of the CPC announced itself openly at a public gathering at which Mr. Feng delivered a speech titled “Overcome shortcomings, tighten the relation between the Party and masses”. He was the first secretary of the Party branch in Zhongshan University after its emergence from secrecy. In view of the fact that there were few members of the CPC in Zhongshan University after the adjustment (only 13 members in August, 1953), he made great efforts in strengthening the organization of the Party by admitting new members. He demanded that the Party members make close ties with the masses, set good examples in working hard and learning modestly from others. Under the leadership of Mr. Feng and through painstaking efforts over years, the number of CPC members in Zhongshan University increased rapidly, and when the first Party conference of Zhongshan University was held in June 1956, there were 99 formal members and 110 alternate members of the CPC.

Mr. Feng set himself an example in making close ties with the mass by getting along very harmoniously with non-Party personnel. President Xu Chongqing was a famous democratic (Vice-president Chen Xujing was also a non-Party personnel.), but Mr. Feng showed great respect on him and worked in collaboration by consulting him on important matters of the school. The central leading group of the University often held its meetings in President Xu’s house, and whenever the Party took major measures, Mr. Feng would call on President Xu to listen to his opinion. The relation between the Party and administration was very close and harmonious.

Try hard to solve problems for the masses

Mr. Feng was a senior cadre of the Party holding high position and having great power in hand, yet he was easy-going, close to the masses and always willing to solve problems for the masses. Yao Xuemin, a lecturer in the Department of History, was frustrated with family life, because her husband, professor Lou Gongkai, was not hired during the takeover and had to accept the job in Northwest University, and their daughter was taken care of at her grandfather’s home in Shanghai. There were many practical problems and inconvenience as the family was separated in three places. Ms. Yao asked Mr. Feng to help. He said to her after listening to her complaint, “Since professor Yao could be transferred to Northwest University, why can’t he be transferred back to this university, since both are state-run universities? I think it is quite a simple problem. We can either ask professor Yao to come back, or transfer you to Northwest University. Let me report to the president and solve the problem as soon as possible.” Late, Ms. Yao insisted on leaving Zhongshan University, so the university let her go upon agreement from Northwest University.

On May 27, 1951, Mr. Feng presided over the memorial meeting for professor Zhang Jubo of the Department of Biology, and wrote an article “Mourning the death of professor Zhang”, speaking highly of him as “founder of the field of entomology in China” “a good teacher and scientist”.

Mr. Feng worked in Zhongshan University for almost a quarter of a century, from February 1951 to April 1975. He had made great contributions to the University. His lofty characters and spirit in conducting study and managing the university are great spiritual wealth of the people in Zhongshan University. We deeply remember this old revolutionary and leader at the moment of commemorating the 80th anniversary of the founding of the university by Dr. Sun Yat-sen.
(by Yi Hanwen)