Beijing’s Museum of the Chinese Communist Party.

Nicholas Quirke was feeling privileged on 3 August 2021 to be a visitor at the new museum in honour of the CCP. It had been an administrative exercise that had involved a visit by Peng to the hospital to get a certificate as again his Nucleic Acid test was not reflected in his health kit, to ensure he could enter the vast impressive building though he had not been aware of just how unorthodox his visit to the Atheneum was. Though it was only 8.45am when they arrived there was already a crowd waiting for admittance. The customer service staff were on hand to help him get in as he could not go through the usual entry gate which, accepted only Chinese nationals with an ID card and manually overriding it for him would look like special treatment for foreigners and as the museum was built to recognise the struggle of the Chinese people would not be a positive sign. He was therefore led through the back Gate and what was the VIP entrance. This meant that other than dignitaries attending the opening in July he was the first foreign visitor to step through what really did feel like hallowed doors. The outside of the museum was on an epic scale, echoing the battle to found a new China that the collection inside demonstrated. Once he was safely through the doors he was immediately awed by the magnificence of the marbled hall where he was joined by Ms. Cao who kindly, and with extreme patience considering the three hours he spent there, guided him through the displays which were over 3 floors. He was familiar with the story of the founding of the CPC now that the 100 year anniversary had now been celebrated and the skilful combination of artefacts, the displays the art and scenes came to life in a more meaningful way for him. Each section was headed with a translation in English but the individual items we’re labelled in Chinese and he either needed to use wechat translate to get a better understanding or call upon the knowledge of Ms Cao. The Exhibition followed a logical path from the introduction of Marxism into China, to the birth of the CCP, the momentum of the movement the battle for the hearts and minds of the Chinese people The Long March and the battles with the KMT and subsequently the Japanese. In one of the museum highlights the horrors or the civil war was illustrated through a virtual reality film which really made him feel like was there. The progress of China was recorded and he was pleased to see that they had acknowledged the damage and the set backs of the 10 year Cultural Revolution though the Gang of Four were resolutely vilified as the perpetrators of this disastrous period. Though from bad comes good and the intervening years from Deng Xiaoping’s leadership to Xi Jinping’s command are documented through a colourful cavalcade of limousines and video recording celebrations and achievements. The Museum celebrates the CCP and therefore it naturally glorifies its communism with Chinese characteristics which are undoubtably bringing China firmly into the 21st century. The main exhibit halls had been busy and full of visitors but the final floor of 170 paintings and sculptures was disappointingly empty. Some glorious paintings that spanned the lifetime of the CCP were largely ignored but he found himself mesmerised by some of the powerful images that were on offer. There were some real Jewell’s in the gallery some of which had been specifically commissioned for the museum. By the time he left he was drained by the weight of the information and sights he had absorbed but in its scope and ambition, like the 50 CCP members in 1921 that grew to the millions strong membership of today, it was a compelling and magnificent space that he was excited to have been able to see and he was ultimately edified and awed by the experience. He had planned with Peng to enjoy a few of his favourite meals over the next few days and the first choice was the cold dry noodles he loved at a restaurant on the corner of Fengtai Road. So he headed to Xisi station, had an afternoon tea and did some work before walking to the Beijing equivalent of a greasy spoon where a the meal for 2 cost the equivalent of £6.00. The supper was delicious and as they were close to Xidan and a branch of Mi Fresh they stopped off to have an Ice desert. The day had been another long one. He had learned a lot and eaten to his hearts content and though they started watching a film after he had showered and enjoyed his massage tiredness overwhelmed him and he called it night and went to sleep..

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