Qi Baishi wrote to Chairman Mao”Ask to say hello to the local government”
Qi Baishi and Mao Zedong are real fellow villagers, two People were born in Xiangtan County, Hunan, one is Xingziwu, the other is Shaoshanchong, the two places are only a few dozen kilometers apart. Soon after the founding of New China, Mao Zedong and Qi Baishi had contact. Among them is a story that is widely circulated at home and abroad:During the land reform, Qi Baishi received a letter from his hometown, saying that his family members were classified as landlords and that not only their wealth would be confiscated, but they would also be criticized. Qi Baishi was apprehensive. On the suggestion of his old friend Xu Beihong, he wrote to Mao Zedong for help. Under Mao Zedong’s intervention, Qi Baishi’s family was classified as a landlord.
This story does exist, but it turns out not to be the case. What are the facts?
Qi Baishi was born in poverty and knew that one meal and one meal were hard to come by. Although he made a lot of income from selling paintings, he was used to living in poverty and he was never a waste of money. The money I saved up hard to build a house and land in my hometown. By the beginning of liberation, there were more than 200 acres of land, a large courtyard and dozens of acres of mountain forest nearby. Qi Baishi officially married twice, and his wife Chen Chunjun gave birth to three sons for him. After Qi Baishi arrived in Beijing, in 1919, Hu Baozhu, who was 18 years old, became the side room. Hu Baozhu gave birth to four sons, one of whom died early. After the death of Chen Chunjun in 1941, Qi Baishi established Hu Baozhu as his successor. Considering that he was in a dying year, he divided the property accumulated in his life into six shares. The three sons of Chen Chunjun were divided into the fields and houses of his hometown in Xiangtan; Hu Baozhu gave birth to three sons, who were given the house and cash in Peking.
Qi Baishi’s son in his hometown rented out the land he had allocated. The tenants are called tenants. When renting the land, tenants must pay a deposit to the landlord. In addition, they must also pay the rent. If the harvest is not good and the rent is not enough, the deposit will be deducted.
In November 1950, after the start of the land reform movement in Hunan, the Qi family’s land was confiscated, but the deposit collected was used by them to purchase the land, and they couldn’t get the money back to the tenants. As a result, Qi Baishi’s eldest son Qi Liangyuan was arrested. If he does not retreat, he will not only be criticized, but may also be shot. Qi Baishi successively received letters from his sister-in-law and several grandchildren in his hometown, reporting to him that the township government wanted to demand a deposit of more than 1,000 silver dollars, more than 200 stones in Otaya, and all household belongings were registered and confiscated, and he was planning to criticize his family. .
Qi Baishi was anxious. At the beginning of the year, he heard a little about the news of the land reform. With foresight, he realized that the land and houses in his hometown might affect himself and his family. Under this situation, he took the initiative to ask Mao Zedong. The statement must be dedicated to the country. At that time, because of his treatment at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, he wrote about his homeland property in a letter to Mao Zedong.”…In previous years, Rujiachong set up a farmhouse in Baishipu, Xiangtan, Hunan. The farmland was about two hundred acres, and the house entered….It is planned to dedicate all the farmhouses mentioned above to the country in order to return it to the people.”
The addition of more than 200 acres of farmland to a house is not a small amount. If it weren’t for the land reform, Qi Baishi would not easily make such a statement. Soon after writing the letter, Mao Zedong met with Qi Baishi in Zhongnanhai and, accompanied by Zhu De, Zhang Shizhao and others, had a meal with him. Qi Baishi felt great honor for this.
Receiving a letter from his family, Qi Baishi thought to himself, the letter he wrote to Chairman Mao and the meeting with Chairman Mao, although he told Chairman Mao the meaning of”all the farmhouses are dedicated to the country so as to return to the people” , But maybe the chairman was too busy to communicate to the grassroots, so his family was not treated differently. So Qi Baishi wrote to Chairman Mao Zedong again around New Year’s Day in 1951.
In a letter to Mao Zedong, Qi Baishi introduced the specific circumstances of the delineation of family composition in his hometown, and he bluntly”asked to the local government to say hello” to Chairman Mao.
After Mao Zedong received Qi Baishi’s letter, he thought twice. According to common sense, Qi Baishi’s request can be solved with one sentence. But Mao Zedong understood that land reform is the country’s major policy, which involves thousands of households and cannot vary from person to person. Furthermore, although he is the chairman of the country, he has always done nothing to interfere with the work of local governments. Not long ago, Mao Zedong received a letter from his hometown reporting land reform and asking about his family members. Just when Mao Anqing returned to his hometown in Hunan, Mao Zedong asked him to convey his three opinions to the township government and the head of the land reform work team:”First, family members. Do not participate in the division of land, the family property is handled by the government; second, the family class composition, seek truth from facts, what should be what is what; third, the people’s government does not follow selfish laws and act according to policies, and the people will support the government.”
So, he made a solemn instruction in a pencil on Qi Baishi’s letter:Please send Comrade Wang Shoudao to the Xiangtan County Committee for research and handling.”Research and treatment” shows that Mao Zedong was very cautious about this issue. Wang Shoudao was the first deputy secretary of the Hunan Provincial Party Committee and chairman of the Hunan Provincial People’s Government.
At the same time, Mao Zedong wrote back a letter for Qi Baishi:
The letter was received and it has been forwarded to the Chairman of the Hunan Provincial People’s Government Wang Shoudao , Ask him to deal with it as appropriate. This repetition.
Mao Zedong’s letter and envelope to Qi Baishi
The earliest source of Mao Zedong’s change of composition for Qi Baishi
When Wang Shoudao received the letter from Mao Zedong and forwarded it to the Xiangtan County Party Committee for processing, he emphasized that it should not be because Qi Baishi was Celebrities deviate from the current policy and give special care. Yang Difu, then secretary of the Xiangtan County Party Committee and county magistrate of the Communist Party of China, handed the approval documents to the 11th District Government of Xiangtan County (at that time, Qi Baishi’s home was under Heyue Township, Chaensi Town, 11th District, Xiangtan County, the author’s note) and asked them to follow the instructions. The chairman’s instructions and the issues reported by Qi Baishi shall be handled on the principle of differentiated treatment.
Later, the joint report of the Heyue Township Government and the Township Farmers Association of the 11th District to the County Land Reform Committee also clearly stated:”Yesterday, the district government ordered,’Regarding Qi Baishi’s home, we should Treat them differently, and report on the family status of Qi Folai (the grandson of Qi Baishi) and the circumstances of the struggle.’ After we understood it, we immediately persuaded the masses and explained it.” Yang Difu in February 1951 In the reply letter to Wang Shoudao on the 26th, he reported on the handling of Chairman Mao’s letter instructing Qi Baishi. At the beginning, he said:“Chairman Wang transferred a letter from Chairman Mao to Qi Baishi to instruct Mr. Qi Baishi. It is assumed that Mr. Qi Baishi has land in Baishi shop in our county. This land reform Zhong was detained by his detainees and his family members were taken care of as appropriate. After checking that Mr. Qi Baishi and his descendants are all landlords, we persuaded the farmer to take care of Mr. Qi Baishi’s deposit of 140 mu of land… …”
This letter, kept in the Xiangtan County Archives, only talks about the deposit of Qi Baishi’s 140 acres of land to be taken care of, but does not mention the division.
The reason why Qi Baishi’s landlord composition has not been changed is not difficult to understand. After receiving instructions from Mao Zedong, Wang Shoudao, and Yang Difu, the land reform team in Chaensi Town must study it carefully. Qi Baishi sold paintings in Beijing 30 years ago. The real estate in his hometown has been successively purchased since then, not three years before liberation. The cadres and people in his hometown know best. In accordance with the spirit of the instructions of the three leaders, the task force must re-verify and verify this, and after the evaluation of the local villagers, the insiders discussed it repeatedly. The amount of land in Qi Baishi’s family fully meets the conditions for being a landlord. As for his poverty in his early years, he could not classify landlords when he bought land with the money he earned from selling paintings. Then, most of the income from other landlords buying land is also legal. Can they not be classified as landlords?
Therefore, if Qi Baishi’s family does not delimit the landlord, the entire Chaen Temple cannot be demarcated, and the land reform of the entire town cannot be carried out. This is not that they ignore the instructions of the three, it is a last resort. Moreover, what Mao Zedong said was only”research and treatment”, and did not explicitly say that Qi Baishi’s family should be reformed. They suppressed all the instructions of the three, and did not change the composition of the Qibaishi family. They only gave”discretionary treatment” in respect of collecting floating wealth, refunding deposits, imprisoning and criticizing that are not issues of principle.
As for why Yang Difu didn’t mention the reform of Qi Baishi’s family? It’s probably a dilemma. He knew very well that if Qi Baishi’s family had to be reformed, the entire land reform work would be messy. The land reform team has taken proper care of Qi Baishi’s family, and it has given the leadership some face. At the same time, we also have to admire that even though our grassroots cadres were not very high in their cultural and theoretical level at that time, they were still unwavering in handling affairs impartially and upholding principles.
The family is no longer detained and criticized, Qi Baishi thinks the problem is solved. One time when Yang Difu went to a meeting in Beijing, Qi Baishi drew a lotus as a gift, and wrote three”white stones” in succession in the inscription. It is said that the old man expressed his”three bows here to thank you.” When Qi Baishi died in 1957, even if his family knew that their composition had not changed, they could not reflect to him.
Later, Yang Difu was elected as the vice chairman of the Fifth CPPCC of Hunan Province, and died in Changsha in 2002. In some of his memory articles during his lifetime, it is believed that the composition problem of Qi Baishi’s family has been solved. For example, in the first episode of”The Collected Works of Qi Baishi” compiled by the Xiangtan Qi Baishi Research Association in 1997, there is”Mao Zedong”corrected” for Qi Baishi” written by Yang Difu. The article”Landlord Composition” was published in”Hunan Literature and History” (now”Literature and History Expo”), Issue 3, 2002. The earliest source of Mao Zedong’s suggestion of Qi Baishi’s change of composition is probably here.
At that time, some descendants of the Qi family questioned this statement, because they were all classified as landlords during the land reform. For decades, their children’s participation in the party, military, education, and work were affected, and they were still bright. The document that the Xiangtan County Revolutionary Committee took off the landlord’s hat for Qi Baishi’s grandson Qi Jinping is evidence. In addition, when Xiangtan County launched the social education campaign in 1966, the family status of Qi Baishi’s three grandsons was still the landlord of the land reform, and there was no change.
As for why Yang Difu said in his memory,”Mao Zedong’corrected’ the landlord composition for Qi Baishi”? This is not because he deliberately confused black and white, the most likely reason is that he wrote that article in 1997 At that time, more than 20 years have passed since the incident. Because of the long time, he only remembered this incident, but the specific result was forgotten. I don’t know that the landlord composition of Qi Baishi’s family had not changed at that time.
The story of Mao Zedong’s”correction” of the landlord elements for Qi Baishi has been widely spread at home and abroad through various media:”Mao Zedong’s instructions to Qi Baishi’s letter and forwarding it to Xiangtan, Hunan, have resolved Qi Baishi’s distress. , Reflects Mao Zedong’s great attention to the problems reported by the cultural celebrity Mr. Qi Baishi, and his working method of handling special circumstances.” It needs to be pointed out that this seemingly warm story not only conceals the truth of the facts, but also damages the image of the party and the people’s leaders to a certain extent, making people misunderstood as an instruction, a letter, or even a sentence from the leader. Words can change the procedure and change one’s destiny.
In fact, Mao Zedong has set three principles for himself in dealing with such problems:love relatives, but not for personal favors; nostalgia, but not for the old for profit; help relatives, but not public Privatization. For example, Li Shuyi asked Mao Zedong to recommend her to the Central Museum of Literature and History. In his letter to Secretary Tian Jiaying, Mao Zedong said:”The qualifications of the Museum of Literature and History are quite strict. I have recommended a few people. If they are not admitted, I will recommend them again.” Mao Zedong’s attitude towards friendship and principles!
Mao Zedong may not know the final result about the composition of Qi Baishi’s family, but even if he knew it, he would definitely not blame the parties. To his fellow townspeople, Mao Zedong was able to interrogate him under the circumstances of every opportunity, which reflected his approachability and sincerity. But the party’s policy is not a display, and it must never break the bottom line of principle.
The enlightenment that this incident has given us today is still profound:Leading cadres at all levels, no matter how high their position or power, must maintain fair thinking, clean quality, honest mind, and decent style. Work hard to be a servant of the people.
——Excerpted from the second issue of”Literature and History Expo” 2018