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Commemorating Lanxi’s Patriot Cao Juren
Post Time: 08/08/2018


Cao Juren (1900-1972) is a renowned figure of 20th century China in literary, media, and academic circles. Born in Jiangfan Village, Meijiang, Lanxi, he later graduated from Zhejiang First Normal College. In 1922, Cao went to Shanghai to teach at Jinan University, Fudan University, and other colleges. In the early 1930s, he became chief editor of the magazines Roar of Surf and Grain in Ear. After the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, he served as a war correspondent. He was the first to report the victory of the Battle of Tai’erzhuang1 and disclose the truth of the South Anhui Incident2 internationally. In 1939, he founded Righteousness Daily. 1950, he went to Hong Kong as a special correspondent of Nanyang Business Daily based in Singapore. 1958, he revealed an inside story on the Battle of Kinmen3 to an international audience. After he moved to Hong Kong, he returned to mainland China several times in support of the reunification of Taiwan. He wrote and read voraciously his entire life, authoring more than 100 books.

Forty-six years ago, Cao Juren passed away in Macao. Zhou Enlai, then Premier of China, personally drafted the inscription for his tombstone.


An Unfortunate Marriage

In the spring of 1915, Cao Juren met a young girl named Wang Chuncui in Yucai School. She remained in his mind ever after. One year later, as he wished, the two’s parents arranged an engagement between them. When he graduated from First Normal College in Zhejiang, they held a big wedding ceremony.

In 1922, the couple was separated for job reasons. They decided to write in the same red silk notebook and mail it back and forth to each other. They named the small notebook Heart and Soul.

Unfortunately for Wang, in the fall of 1934, Cao Juren fell in love with a female student, Deng Keyun, in Shanghai. When Wang found out, she wanted a divorce. In 1938, Cao and Deng married in Wuhan. At the time, Wang was in Lanxi alone, devoted to rural education. Although Cao and Wang separated, they kept in contact and maintained a close relationship.


Surf Roars

In 1931, Cao Juren founded the Roar of Surf magazine, and co-founded Grain in Ear with Xu Maoyong. In the spirit of social criticism, their articles satirized the authorities in a provocative style. The latter magazine later had great influence in the left-wing literary circle.

1940, Chiang Ching-kuo asked Cao to help manage the New Gannan Newspaper. At the very beginning of his new position, Cao proposed to reinvent the paper Righteousness Daily. He then made reforms and increased the paper’s sales from just 4000 to above 10,000 per day.

Cao was also a biographer who strived to tell the truth. He examined every hero from his own perspective, not looking up to them nor looking down on them. He authored Chiang Ching-kuo’s Biography, Lu Xun’s Biography, Jiang Baili’s Biography, and more.


His Pen as a Weapon

After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident4 occurred in 1937, followed by the Battle of Shanghai5, Cao got out of his study and became a war correspondent as a famous writer and scholar. He wrote newsletters in the battlefields until the end of the war, when China proclaimed victory. Since he experienced the war personally, Cao edited and published the History of Sino-Japanese War in Paintings in 1947. It displayed criminal evidence of Japanese aggression against China, as well as heroic deeds of Chinese people. It was one of the first history books in China on the Second Sino-Japanese War with full and accurate historic data alongside unique and original opinions.


Bridging the Strait

On the eve of the victory of the Communists in the Chinese Civil War, Cao had been sent tickets to Taiwan for his entire family. But Cao decided to stay in Shanghai. In July of 1950, he went to Hong Kong alone. According to relevant literature, Cao established stable communication with Beijing in 1956 and maintained it thereafter.

In letters left in his desk to his younger brother Cao Yi and first wife Wang, there were details concerning the peaceful reunification of Taiwan and mainland China. Cao had been working for the cause until the last breath of his life.

1972, Cao Juren died of an illness in Kiang Wu Hospital in Macao. Premier Zhou Enlai wrote the inscription of his tombstone: “The tomb of patriotic Mr. Cao Juren,” the conclusion of his great life.  (By Jin Xiao, translated by Lin Yuqin, edited by Kendra Fiddler)


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Translator’s notes:

1. The first major victory for Chinese in the war. It happened in 1938.

2. Also known as New Fourth Army Incident. It happened in 1941 and was the end of real cooperation between the Nationalists and Communists of China.

3. A battle fought over Kinmen in the Taiwan Strait during the Chinese Civil War in 1949. CPC failed to take Taiwan, losing the battle.

4. An incident that happened on July 7, 1937. It was considered an official declaration of war.

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