Mao Zedong at West Lake A Chronology Part I: 1953-59
Based on material compiled by Wang Huai 汪槐 Translated with additions by Geremie R. Barmé
The following account, taken from a 2005 volume titled simply Mao Zedong and West Lake, offers an overview of the Party Chairman's activities during his frequent sojourns in Hangzhou. Even this elliptical account offers some insight into the complex interplay between formal and informal politicals as pursued at the Lake during the Maoist era. We get a sense of Mao's literary and cultural pursuits, his interest in swimming and climbing hills, as well as diplomatic endeavours and careful plots, In this sketchy chronology—a more substantial study must await archival access—we see how even in China's most revolutionary and radical era, from the 1950s to the late 1970s, West Lake was a place where, as we have argued elsewhere in this issue of China Heritage Quarterly, politics and power, representation and imagination, discrete leisure and overt display commingle.—The Editor
August: Mao Zedong passes through Hangzhou on his way from Jiaxing to Hunan province following the reconvening of the first Congress of the Communist Party of China (having initially gathered in Shanghai the delegates to the congress were forced to relocate to Jiaxing, Zhejiang province).
27 December: Mao takes up residence at Building No. One at Liu Zhuang villa, with an office a 84 Beishan Road. He climbs Beigao Mountain for the first time. Hereafter, unless otherwise stated, Mao stays at Liu Villa when living on West Lake.
January: formal drafting of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China begins; Mao leads the writing group including secretaries, scribes and thinkers Chen Boda, Hu Qiaomu and Tian Jiaying. Work on the draft continues through January and February. Also in January Mao meets with the Soviet ambassador to China and hints at the fall of Gao Gang (see 'Revolutionary Retreats'). At the same time, he writes to Liu Shaoqi, President of the People's Republic, suggesting that the Fourth Plenum of the Seventh Party Congress be convened in Beijing. During this month he visits local agricultural co-operatives while, via a series of telegrams to Beijing, he orchestrates at a distance political developments in the capital.
9 April-20 June: in residence in Hangzhou
January: early in the month Mao convenes a conference of key Beijing and provincial leaders to determine an agricultural plan covering the years 1956-1967. On the day he leaves Hangzhou he sends a congratulatory telegram marking the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of Albania.
21 March-7 April: in residence
12 September: after reading a draft of a People's Daily editorial entitled 'Why Do We Say that the Bourgeois Rightists are Reactionaries?', Mao suggests improvements and corrections. This is a key period in what would be known as the Anti-Rightist Campaign. Three days later, on 15 September, he reviews the draft editorial 'This is a Socialist Revolution in our Political Line'. The following day he pays a visit to the Zhejiang provincial Party office to investigate the rectification campaign and socialist education movement in the villages of Hang county. 13-25 October: in residence 12 December-5 January 1957: in residence During December 1957, Mao reviews documents related to agricultural and industrial issues and emphasized the importance of: industrial production; agricultural production; and, ideological matters. He holds a series of local and national meetings to discuss reports on hygiene in Zhejiang province. These inform national propaganda priorities related to health policy. He also meets with a delegation from Burma.
1958January: in residence Mao drafts notes on 'two kinds of contradiction' that would eventually become the basis for a major policy related to social classes and class struggle in the socialist phase of China's revolution. During the previous month he revised material published locally in Hangzhou which later runs in the People's Daily and supports the Great Leap Forward. He also continues to pursue health and hygiene issues through a visit to local housing on 5 January. 30 June: in residence Excited by a report in the People's Daily on the elimination of schistosomiasis in Yujiang county, Jiangxi, Mao says that he stayed up all night (which was his wont, anyway) to compose what will be two of his most famous poems:
20-28 September: in residence
195921-24 March: in residence
6-10 April: in residence Mao chairs an enlarged meeting of the Politburo attended by Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, Chen Yun, Deng Xiaoping, Tan Zhenlin and Yang Shangkun.
21-22 May: in residence Mao and Chen Yun meet with the Korean leader Kim Il-sung at the Nanping Hotel and the following day Mao chairs a meeting of Party Central leaders at the same hotel.
21-24 August: in residence
31 October-5 January 1960: in residence
3-4 November: Mao chairs a meeting of provincial and municipal leaders from East China, followed by a smaller meeting attended by Zhou Enlai, Peng Zhen, Wang Jiaxiang and Hu Qiaomu at which issues of international import are discussed.
12 November: Speaking at the Dahua Hotel, Mao for the first time discusses the threat of the US-led strategy of 'peaceful evolution' (for details on this, see Qiang Zhai, '1959: Preventing Peaceful Evolution'). 28 November-5 December: Mao chairs an enlarged meeting of the CCP Politburo with Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, Chen Yi, He Long and Peng Zhen in attendance.
9 December: at Mao's suggestion a reading group comprising the Chairman, Chen Boda, Tian Jiaying, Deng Liqun and Hu Sheng convenes at Liu Villa to read and study the socialist-era related material in the Soviet text book Political Economics.
Ye Jianxin 叶建新, Mao Zedong and West Lake (Mao Zedong yu Xihu 毛泽东与西湖), Hangzhou: Hangzhou Chubanshe, 2005, pp.173-81.