Chen Qi: A Female Veteran of the Red Army in the Long March

October 21, 2016  By China Women's News  Editor: Hewater Liu

A photo of Chen Qi in Yan'an Ffile photo]

 

Chen Qi, 92, is a female veteran of the Red Army, the forerunner of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA). With strong revolutionary belief, loyalty to the Communist Party of China (CPC) and great tenacity, she has witnessed the remarkable success of the Long March (October 1934-October 1936), the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-1945), the Liberation War (1945-1949) and the construction of New China.

Although Chen has made great contributions to her nation and the CPC, she has been happy with a simple life in her small house. Visitors will find her home filled with old chairs, wardrobes, wooden beds, square desks, tea tables and other old furniture, all of which have been used for decades.

Determined to Follow the Red Army

Chen was born into a rural family in Bazhong County, southwest China's Sichuan Province, in June 1924. She joined the Red Army aged nine in 1933, when the fourth front of the Red Army passed her hometown. Back then, local villagers, including kids, rushed to join the Red Army, when the CPC and the troops had led them to fight against tyrannical landlords, repartition farmlands and instructed them about the importance of revolution.

"You are too young to join us and complete the Long March, please go home," said the Red Army soldiers.

"No. We can overcome all kinds of difficulties on the Long March, please let us follow you," Chen and other kids insisted in tears.

The Red Army finally accepted them, and taught them about culture, song and dance, all of which were inaccessible to them before that. Since then, Chen has made up her mind to follow the CPC's revolutionary cause.

The fourth front of the Red Army was forced to withdraw from its strongholds in the border regions of Sichuan and northwest China's Shaanxi in March 1935, and to set its feet on the 19-month-long Long March, when the Kuomintang regime further strengthened its military aggression against those areas. In addition to hard military confrontations with the Kuomintang regime's military forces, Chen and other soldiers of the Red Army had to go through unimaginable difficulties, which ranged from huger, disease and death to the crossing of raging rivers, snowy mountains and arid grasslands.

Chen said that she would have lost her life to a bad cold but for the assistance from other soldiers older than her in the Red Army. It was them who gave her clothes, food and encouragement when she was in a fight against her illness. What's more, the faith of revolution and adherence to optimism had also helped her to survive through the Long March.

Eager to Learn Academic Knowledge

Chen followed the fourth front of the Red Army and caught up with the first front of the Red Army in Huining County, northwest China's Gansu Province, in October 1936. After a while, she became a member of the Red Army's troupe in Bao'an (Zhidan) County in Shaanxi. In 1938, the 15-year-old Chen joined the CPC.

Chen was advised by her superiors to learn artistic performance at Yan'an Luxun Arts School when she came to Yan'an City (headquarters of the Central Committee of the CPC during 1937-1947) in Shaanxi. However, the little girl refused the offer and chose to study academic knowledge at the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese Military and Political College on the grounds that her literary level was low. She had to fight against all kinds of odds in the process of learning how to operate machines, when she worked at the confidential affairs office of the CPC Central Committee. She was promoted to work for Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) in 1940, because of her excellent performance at school and former positions.

Loyal to the CPC Forever

After graduation from her school, Chen worked at the confidential position until her retirement. Other people could not find any photos of Chen and her husband Li Zhizhong, except for a family photo and another one in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of their wedding, due to the nature of their work. Li was former vice-director of the General Office and director of the Bureau of Confidential Affairs at the CPC Central Committee.

Chen had been loyal to the CPC and strived for excellence in her daily work for decades. Li Xuefeng, her son, recalled that his parents had continued learning and never spoken with others about their work.

"We know nothing about our parents' work, except for the stories of the Long March," said Li in an interview with China Women's News, while Chen shook her head and emphasized that any revelation of her work was in violation of the law.

Prior to the conclusion of the interview, Chen wrote to China Women's News and its readers noting that the public is urged to further succeed the spirit of the Long March.

 

Chen Qi attends the interview. [China Women's News/Xu Jianhua]

 

(Source: China Women's News /Translated and edited by Women of China)

Related stories

Comments