Qu Qiubai

Qu Qiubai

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Qu Qiubai (January 29, 1899 – June 18, 1935) was born in Changzhou
Changzhou is a prefecture-level city in southern Jiangsu province of the People's Republic of China. It was previously known as Yanling, Lanling, Jinling, and Wujin. Located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, Changzhou borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the west, Zhenjiang to the...

, Jiangsu
' is a province of the People's Republic of China, located along the east coast of the country. The name comes from jiang, short for the city of Jiangning , and su, for the city of Suzhou. The abbreviation for this province is "苏" , the second character of its name...

, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. He was a leader of the Communist Party of China
Communist Party of China
The Communist Party of China , also known as the Chinese Communist Party , is the founding and ruling political party of the People's Republic of China...

 in the late 1920s.

Early life

Qu was born in the southeast corner of Changzhou city, Jiangsu province, China. His family lived in a building named TianXianLou, and the building was in a lane named QingGuo. Qu's father, Qu Shiwei, was born in a downfallen family which used to be powerful and glorious. Qu Shiwei was good at painting, fencing, and medical knowledge, but he wasn't interested in other things, particularly politics and business. Qu's mother, Kim Xuan, the daughter of elite government officials, was skilled in poetry. Qu had five brothers and one sister, and he was the eldest one. When Qu was young, his family lived in his uncle's house, on the support from their relatives. Though Qu’s father took a job as teacher, he was unable to gain enough money to support his family because he became an opium addict afterwards. In 1915, Qu’s mother, overcame by her life's mounting difficulties and debts, committed suicide.

In 1916, Qu went to Hankou and entered Wuchang Foreign Language School to learn English on his cousin’s support. In the spring of 1917, Qu went to Beijing to apply for a job, but didn’t pass the general civil service examination. Without enough money to pay for a regular university tuition, therefore, Qu enrolled in the newly established Russian Language Institute of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (俄文专修馆), as it was tuition-free. The institute also offered a stipend and held the promise of job upon graduation. With a reluctant participant in revolutionary discourse, Qu was radicalized by his experience in the May 4th Movement.

Communist Party involvement

Qu worked hard in the language institute, studying both French and Russian. Besides, he learned about Buddhist
Buddhist philosophy
Buddhist philosophy deals extensively with problems in metaphysics, phenomenology, ethics, and epistemology.Some scholars assert that early Buddhist philosophy did not engage in ontological or metaphysical speculation, but was based instead on empirical evidence gained by the sense organs...

 and classical Chinese
Chinese philosophy
Chinese philosophy is philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. The majority of traditional Chinese philosophy originates in the Spring and Autumn and Warring States era, during a period known as the "Hundred Schools of Thought", which was characterized by significant intellectual and...

 in spare time. Early contact with revolutionary circles occurred when he participated in discussions about Marxist analysis hosted by Li Dazhao
Li Dazhao
Li Dazhao was a Chinese intellectual who co-founded the Communist Party of China with Chen Duxiu in 1921.-Early life:...

, head librarian at Beijing University. Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 was also present at these meetings. Qu later took a job as a journalist for a Beijing newspaper and was stationed in Moscow. Qu was one of the first Chinese to report from Moscow about life in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution.

In January, 1923, Qu accepted the invitation from Chen Duxiu, leader of the Communist Party of China at that time, and come back from Russia. After returning, Qu was responsible for the propaganda work of Communist Party of China. He became acting Chairman of the Chinese Politburo
Politburo of the Communist Party of China
The Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China or Political bureau of the CPC Central Committee , formerly as Central Bureau before 1927, is a group of 24 people who oversee the Communist Party of China...

 in 1927 after the fall of Chen Duxiu
Chen Duxiu
Chen Duxiu played many different roles in Chinese history. He was a leading figure in the anti-imperial Xinhai Revolution and the May Fourth Movement for Science and Democracy. Along with Li Dazhao, Chen was a co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921. He was its first General Secretary....

, and the de facto leader of the party. He organized actions such as the Guangzhou Uprising
Guangzhou Uprising
The Guangzhou Uprising of 1927 was a failed communist uprising in the city of Guangzhou in southern China.On December 11 1927, red guard citizens, directed by communist political leaders, took over Guangzhou . The uprising occurred despite the strong objections of communist military commanders...

 of December 11, 1927. In April, 1928, Qu went to Moscow once again and worked as a delegate of Chinese Communist Party for two years. In 1930, after dismissed from the representative of Chinese Communist Party, Qu returned to China and soon was dismissed from the central leadership due to an intense argument on which means should be chosen to carry on the revolution. After that, Qu worked both as a writer and a translator in Shanghai, fought along with Mao Dun and Lu Xun and forged a profound friendship with leaders of left-wing cultural movement.


In 1934, situation had become more and more dangerous, Qu couldn't stay at Shanghai any more, so he went to the Central Revolutionary Base, Ruijing in Jiangxi province. When Red Army decided to begin the famous Long March, Qu stayed in the south to lead bush fighting. Arrested in Changting in 1934, Qu was put into a prison in Kuomintang
The Kuomintang of China , sometimes romanized as Guomindang via the Pinyin transcription system or GMD for short, and translated as the Chinese Nationalist Party is a founding and ruling political party of the Republic of China . Its guiding ideology is the Three Principles of the People, espoused...

 a year later. During arrest, Qu suffered from torture by the KMT government, the KMT government also adopted various means to induce him to capitulate, but Qu still persisted in his belief, he refused. In June 18, it was the day of his execution, Qu walked calmly toward the execution place, Zhongshan Park, Changting, singing "The Internationale", the "Red Army Song", shouted "Long live the Chinese Communist Party", "Long live communism" and other slogans. After Reaching Luohanling, a small hill in Zhongshan Park, Qu choosed a grass to sit down, smiled and nodded to the executioner, said: "very good here!". Qu was shot to death when he was only 36 years old.

During arrest, Qu wrote a book named "Superfluous words" to express his political thinking and hard mentality experience from literati to revolutionist. The book became a great controversy after Qu’s death.


Qu was heavily criticised as a "renegade" during the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

. However, the Central Committee
Central Committee of the Communist Party of China
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the National Party Congress....

 absolved him in 1980 and today he is held in very high regard by the Party. A Qu Qiubai museum operates in his native town of Changzhou
Changzhou is a prefecture-level city in southern Jiangsu province of the People's Republic of China. It was previously known as Yanling, Lanling, Jinling, and Wujin. Located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, Changzhou borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the west, Zhenjiang to the...

. Tsi-an Hsia  writes in The Gate of Darkness: Studies on the Leftist Literary Movement in China (published 1968) describing Qu as "the tenderhearted Communist". Qu and a Russian counterpart, V.S. Kolokolov, were responsible for the early development of the Sin Wenz
Latinxua Sinwenz
Latinxua Sin Wenz is a little-used romanization system for Mandarin Chinese. It was usually written without tones under the assumption that the proper tones could be understood from context....

 system of Mandarin
Standard Mandarin
Standard Chinese or Modern Standard Chinese, also known as Mandarin or Putonghua, is the official language of the People's Republic of China and Republic of China , and is one of the four official languages of Singapore....

In linguistics, romanization or latinization is the representation of a written word or spoken speech with the Roman script, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system . Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written...

. Qu also created the official Chinese translation of The Internationale
The Internationale
The Internationale is a famous socialist, communist, social-democratic and anarchist anthem.The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism, and gained particular fame under the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1944, when it was that communist state's de facto central anthem...

, used as the anthem of the Communist Party of China. Qu was one of Chinese excellent intellectuals who were baptized by the May 4th Movement,and one of early Communist Party members that established the spirits. Generally speaking, Qu was an early leader of Chinese Communist Party as well as an emotional poet.