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Qu Qiubai

In office
1927 – 1928
Preceded by Chen Duxiu
Succeeded by Xiang Zhongfa

Born 29 January 1899(1899-01-29)
Changzhou, Jiangsu, Qing Dynasty
Died 18 June 1935 (aged 36)
Nationality Chinese
Political party Chinese Communist Party
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Qu.

Qu Qiubai (Chinese: 瞿秋白pinyin: Qū QiūbáiWade-Giles: Ch'ü Ch'iu-pai) (January 29, 1899 – June 18, 1935) was born in Changzhou, Jiangsu, China. He was a leader of the Communist Party of China in the late 1920s and an important contributor to Mao Zedong Thought.[1]


Early life

From a prominent, though impoverished, regional family, Qu suffered tragedy at an early age. His father, an opium addict.[2], unable to extract wealth from their land or attain a good bureaucratic position was forced to take a remote teaching position that left no money to send home. In 1915, his mother, overwrought by her life's mounting difficulties and debts, committed suicide.[3] In 1916, Qu found himself in Beijing, after having spent some time with relatives in Wuhan, without any means to pay for a regular university tuition. Therefore, Qu enrolled in the newly established Russian Language Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (俄文专修馆), as it was tuition-free, offered a stipend and held the promise of work upon graduation. A reluctant participant in revolutionary discourse Qu would become radicalized by his experience in the May 4th Movement.[4]

Communist Party involvement

Qu led a solitary existence under the demanding regimen of the language institute, studying both French and Russian and on his own time Buddhist and classical Chinese philosophical works. Early contact in revolutionary circles occurred with his participation in a discussions hosted by Li Dazhao, head librarian at Beijing University, about Marxist analysis. Mao Zedong would also be present at these meetings. Qu then later chose to accept a job as a journalist for a Beijing newspaper and be stationed in Moscow. Qu was one of the first Chinese to report from Moscow about life in Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution.

He became acting Chairman of the Chinese Politburo in 1927 after the fall of Chen Duxiu, thus becoming the de facto leader of the party. He organised actions such as the Guangzhou Uprising of December 11, 1927.[5]

Unable to join his comrades on the Long March due to his tuberculosis, Qu stayed in the territory of the doomed Jiangxi Soviet; arrested in Changting in 1934, he was put to a Kuomintang firing squad there a year later. His farewell letter, leaked by elements within the Kuomintang, is part of the literary tradition of the Communist movement.


Qu was heavily criticised as a "renegade" during the Cultural Revolution. However, the Central Committee 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. Tsi-an Hsia (Chinese: 夏濟安, Chinese: 夏济安) 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 system of Mandarin romanization.[6] From its Russian translation, Qu also created the official Chinese translation of The Internationale, used as the anthem of the Communist Party of China.


  1. ^ people's daily
  2. ^ Jonathan D. Spence. The Search for Modern China. p. 297.  
  3. ^ Jonathan D. Spence (1981). The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Penguin. p. 169. ISBN 01400.6279.3.  
  4. ^ Jonathan D. Spence (1981). The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Penguin. p. 171. ISBN 01400.6279.3.  
  5. ^ Thomas Kampen (1999). Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and the Evolution of the Chinese Communist Leadership. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies. p. 34. ISBN 8787062763.  
  6. ^ 新文字 Sin Wenz


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