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Passing on the Revolutionary Heritage of Shazhou Village

By Chen Youyong and Zhou Yaming Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal Updated: 2022-10-28

The Yao ethnic village of Shazhou in Rucheng County, Hunan Province, sits deep in the mountains on the provincial border with Jiangxi and Guangdong provinces. The village is part of the old Hunan-Jiangxi revolutionary base and is where the story of "Half a Quilt" took place. In November 1934 during the Long March of the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, three female soldiers sought shelter in the home of an impoverished Shazhou villager named Xu Jiexiu. On their departure, the soldiers cut their only quilt in two, leaving half with Xu. The story is a vivid portrayal of the deep bond between the CPC and the Chinese people.

On September 16, 2020, during a tour of Hunan Province, President Xi Jinping went to Shazhou Village to visit an exhibition on the story of "Half a Quilt" and learn about local efforts to strengthen primary-level Party organizations and promote tourism and educational activities based on local revolutionary heritage. He stressed the importance of "standing by the people through thick and thin, maintaining close relations with them, and sharing a common destiny with them." "The goal of the CPC," he said, "was to first bring about liberation for the people and then help them live good lives." Bearing in mind these instructions, the officials and residents of Shazhou Village have worked to carry forward their revolutionary heritage, put revolutionary resources to good use, and tell their revolutionary stories well. They have made major efforts to develop the local economy and are enjoying increasingly prosperous lives.



Passing revolutionary heritage to future generations

"It was pouring rain when my mother spotted three female Red Army soldiers passing our home and offered to put them up for the night." Zhu Zhongxiong, who is now over eighty, can still clearly recall the details of the story of "Half a Quilt." The youngest son of Xu Jiexiu, Zhu still keeps watch over the old family home, the setting for the story, where he now volunteers as a guide.

"President Xi inquired in detail about our living conditions and encouraged our family to assume an active role in telling revolutionary stories and passing on China's revolutionary heritage," said Xu Jiexiu's grandson, Zhu Xiaohong, when recalling the president's visit to his family's home. In recent years, Zhu has shaken off poverty by opening a restaurant and homestay business and has served as assistant manager of the village's revolutionary scenic area.

The story of "Half a Quilt" moved the entire country. All those years ago, the female soldiers promised Xu Jiexiu just before parting that they would visit again when the war ended. Though the three never did return, in the succeeding decades, countless Party members and officials from all over China have visited Shazhou to recall that period and immerse themselves in the country's revolutionary heritage. Traces of heroic acts can be found throughout Rucheng and along the banks of the Chushui River. The tale of "Half a Quilt," stories of Red Army IOUs given to peasants for food and materials that were repaid years later, incidents reflecting the idea that all revolutionaries are of equal standing, and many other similar events encapsulate the close bond between the Red Army and the people of Rucheng.

Harnessing revolutionary resources to root out poverty and promote revitalization

Shazhou Village lies on rugged terrain and is sparsely populated. Falling within the contiguous poor area of the Luoxiao Mountains, it was once extremely backward. The story of "Half a Quilt" will always be a precious source of spiritual strength for the people of Shazhou, but it has also inspired them to make material changes to their village. When the touching story began to attract great numbers of visitors, Shazhou Village seized the opportunity to develop tourism based on its revolutionary history, and residents rolled up their sleeves to tackle poverty at the roots. A cohort of young people who had returned home to start businesses grew into a new force driving development. Villagers opened rural e-commerce businesses, local restaurants, and homestays, and set up stalls along ancient laneways offering local specialties. The previously poor people of Shazhou Village are now earning their living from tourism and are making strides on the road to prosperity. In 2018, the entire village of Shazhou was lifted out of poverty.

After shaking off poverty, Shazhou Village further tapped local advantages, including revolutionary tourism, the eco-environment, and its ancient rural style, to convert its poverty alleviation model, based on revolutionary culture and tourism, into a new model for realizing rural revitalization based on revolutionary tourism and green development. In 2021, the per capita income of villagers was 17,100 yuan, and the village generated a collective income of 705,000 yuan. As tourism in the village has boomed, the incomes of residents have risen, and the look of the village has steadily improved. Shazhou has been awarded several nationallevel honorary titles, including "village of beauty and leisure," "key village for promoting rural tourism," and "traditional Chinese village."

In today's Shazhou Village, revolutionary culture, green ecology, and ancient rural features are blending and working together in a harmonious and appealing way.

Following the story of "Half a Quilt" with a new development chapter for Shazhou

As the saying goes, "Villages look to the examples of other villages, households look to the examples of neighbors, and rural residents look to their Party branch." In the fight against poverty and the promotion of rural revitalization, the Party branch of Shazhou Village has played a crucial role. Guided by Party development initiatives, the village has come up with a multifaceted governance model with the village Party branch serving as the core and villagers' council and village cooperatives playing a supplementary role. This model has helped spur all-around economic development and major improvements in the living environment.

This progress brings to mind the words of a song recalling Shazhou's revolutionary heritage: "The red of the peach blossom, and the pear blossom white; the fresh waters and lush mountains on the village edge. When the Red Army in the winter cold arrived, they warmed our souls with half a quilt. The rays of the sun, and the laughter sounding sweet; the vernal winds that decorate our home. Happy days are like flowers blooming bright; for here in Shazhou, it's spring all year round."

Under the leadership of the Party organization, the villagers have united as one and thrown themselves into the task of developing their hometown. A new chapter featuring rural beauty, economic prosperity, and happiness for all is steadily unfolding.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 13-16, 2022)