Education Base of the Red International Underground Route in Manzhouli

The Education Base of the Red International Underground Route in the city of Manzhouli 满州里市红色国际秘密交通线教育基地 was planned as a major Red Tourism site in 2005 with an investment of 127 million RMB (Liukun). By 2021 it has been integrated into the Border Gate Scenic Area 国门景区 to combine the attraction of Chinese-Russian border tourism with patriotic education. The Education Base includes a stone monument with an inscription indicating one original site along the Red International Underground Route 红色国际秘密交通线遗址 and its history (at the border and eight kilometers west to Manzhouli)the original site of Jinfengtai grocery shop 晋丰泰杂货铺遗址 (in the city), the Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism 满洲里红色展览馆, and the Exhibition Hall of the Sixth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 中共六大展览馆 as well as the original sites of the transit stations along the Underground Route in Erka 二卡秘密交通站遗址 (twenty kilometers east to Manzhouli) and in Zhalainuoer 扎赉诺尔秘密交通站遗址 (thiry-five kilometers southeast to Manzhouli).

Manzhouli is a sub-prefectural boarder city between China and Russia. When the Chinese Eastern Railway 中东铁路 linking Siberia, northeast China (Manchuria) with the Russian Far East was built in 1901, it was the first station when Russians entered China. The name of the city originated from the Russian word Манжули

Between 1920 and 1937 the CCP had established an underground route from Shanghai via Harbin to Manzhouli in order to facilitate its members’ travel to the Soviet Union (Bing). 

In 1922 Chen Duxiu 陈独秀 (1879-1942) and the CCP delegation went to Petrograd (St. Peterburg) via this route to attend the Fourth World Congress of the Comintern. After the Nationalist-Communist split in 1927, the CCP representatives made their way also via this underground route to the Soviet Union in 1928 to hold the Sixth National Congress there; furthermore, the CCP used this underground route to send their offspring to the Ivanovo International House, a boarding school in the Soviet Union which brought up children of Communist leaders and martyrs all over the world. 

Picture 1. The Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism

At the end of 1931 Communist Party members Ji Zhongfa 纪中发 (?) and Li Fang 李芳 (1909?-1987) came to Manzhouli to run the Jinfengtai grocery shop as a couple. It functioned as a secret transit station, where they hid their communist colleagues before they were taken over by the Soviet contacts (Bing). The grocery shop was closed in 1934. Erka and Zhalainuoer underground transit stations were set up respectively in 1932 and 1935. Due to the betrayal of high-level cadres in Harbin, this underground route, together with other communist organizations in and around Harbin, was destroyed by Japanese intelligence agency in 1937 (Bing).

The building that now serves as the Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism was constructed in 1973 as a Sino-Russia meeting room at the border. The current exhibition features two major themes relevant to the Red Underground Route. The theme “The Key Post Connecting (the CCP with) the Comintern” argues Manzhouli’s significance in the Red International Underground Route that facilitated the travel of the CCP and Comintern members between China and the Soviet Union; while “The Offspring of Early CCP Revolutionaries ” shows the lives of the children of CCP cadres in the Ivanovo International House, including their experiences during the WWII. Historical artefacts, photos, maps, miniature models, and (wax or silicon) figures are employed in these exhibitions (Yibu yi huitou).

Picture 2. The Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism shows how the Jinfengtai grocery shop hid travelling communist party members

Built in 2011, the Exhibition Hall of the Sixth National Congress of the CCP intended to be a replica of the original villa on the outskirts of Moscow, in which the congress took place between June 18 and July 11, 1928. Most representatives, such as Qu Qiubai 瞿秋白 (1899-1935), Zhou Enlai 周恩来(1898-1976), Li Lisan 李立三 (1899-1967), travelled to Moscow and back to China using the underground route via Manzhouli. The exhibition hall displays documents, photos, and reproduces scenes of the congress (Liukun). 

Picture 3. The Exhibition Hall of the CCP’s Sixth National Congress in Manzhouli

The original site in Pervomayskoye near Moscow, where the congress was held, had been heavily damaged. Between 2013 and 2016 it was renovated with funds from China. Both Xi Jinping and Vladmir Putin sent their personal congratulations to its completion ceremony in 2016 (Arlt). Now the villa houses a permanent exhibition on the CCP’s Sixth National Congress.

Picture 4. The Exhibition Hall of the CCP’s Sixth National Congress  in Pervomayskoye 

These doppelgänger exhibition halls commemorating the CCP’s Sixth National Congress begs the question about how to understand the expansion of China’s Red Tourism out of the PRC’s territory.

The Red International Underground Route via Manzhouli is considered essential to the CCP’s Party-building and the PRC’s state-building, for it contributed to the spread of Marxism-Leninism in China, the strengthening of the CCP’s connection with the Comintern, and perhaps also the CCP’s own survival after 1927.  

List of Pictures:

Feature image: The Red International Underground Route as shown in a map in the Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism. Yibu yi huitou 一步一回头 (2019):”Hulun beier shi Manzhouli shi Manzhouli hongse zhanlanguan 呼伦贝尔市满洲里市满洲里红色展览馆 (The Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism in (the Sub-prefectural) City of Manzhouli in the (Prefecture-level) City of Hulun Buir).” In: Sohu (1 December): <https://www.sohu.com/a/357578126_297601>.

Picture 1: Naixin (2021): ” ‘Daka’ hongse jiaoyu jidi: yizuo hongse de guoji qiaoliang ‘打卡’红色教育基地: 一座红色的国际桥梁 (‘Mark’ the Red Education Base: A Red International Bridge).” In: Hulun beier xinwen 呼伦贝尔新闻 (15 May): <http://www.hlbrdaily.com.cn/news/60/html/305219.html>.

Picture 2: Yibu yi huitou 一步一回头 (2019):”Hulun beier shi Manzhouli shi Manzhouli hongse zhanlanguan 呼伦贝尔市满洲里市满洲里红色展览馆 (The Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism in (the Sub-prefectural) City Manzhouli of the (Prefecture-level) City of Hulun Buir).” In: Sohu (1 December): <https://www.sohu.com/a/357578126_297601>.

Picture 3: Fangzhi Neimenggu weixin gongzhonghao 方志内蒙古微信公众号 (2020): “Manzhouli hongse guoji mimi jiaotongxian jiaoyu jidi 满洲里红色国际秘密交通线教育基地 (Education Base of the Red International Underground Route in Manzhouli).” In: Neimenggu quqing wang 内蒙古区情网 (24 December): <http://qq.nmgszj.com/neimenggufengcai/lvyoufengguang/hulunbeiershi0045/2020-12-24/20399.html>.

Picture 4: Global Times (2021): “From ‘Silver Villa’ to ‘Red Exhibition Hall’ – The Restoration of the Historical Site of the Sixth CPC National Congress.” In: Global Times (18. August): <https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202108/1231787.shtml>.

Bibliography

Arlt, Wolfang Georg (2016): “How Communism Influences Where Chinese Tourists Travel.” In: Forbes (25. September): <https://www.forbes.com/sites/profdrwolfganggarlt/2016/09/25/how-communism-influences-where-chinese-tourists-travel/?sh=44bd4cd826c8>.

Bing Ze 秉泽 (2019): “Xianwei renzhi de Manzhouli guoji mimi jiaotongzhan 鲜为人知的满洲里国际秘密交通站 (The Secret International Transit Stations in Manzhouli).” In: Baomi gongzuo 保密工作, Number 2: 71-73.

Liukun (2021): “Manzhouli hongse mimi jiaotongxian: tongwang Sulian yu gongchan guoji de hongse zhi lu 满洲里红色秘密交通线:通往苏联与共产国际的红色之路 (The Red Underground Route in Manzhouli: A Red Road to the Soviet Union and the Comintern).” In: Hulun beier zinwen 呼伦贝尔新闻 (Feb. 3): <http://www.hlbrdaily.com.cn/news/2/html/301814.html>.

Yibu yi huitou 一步一回头 (2019):”Hulun beier shi Manzhouli shi Manzhouli hongse zhanlanguan 呼伦贝尔市满洲里市满洲里红色展览馆 (The Exhibition Hall of Red Tourism in Manzhouli of the City of Hulun Buir),” in: Sohu (1 December): <https://www.sohu.com/a/357578126_297601>.


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