Guangzhou’s Revolutionary History: Huanghuagang Monument
On our second day in Guangzhou, the class walked from the city subway to Huanghuagang Park which is the site for a historical monument from the early twentieth century.
The Huanghuagang Martyrs Monument captures a turning point in China’s history during a time when the country was undergoing a period of political turmoil. Revolutionary leaders like Sun Yat-sen directly challenged the ruling imperial dynasty, the Qing Empire to reform the government and put the country on a path to modernization. Guangzhou was the site of revolutionary activities organized by organizations like the Tongmenhui. The first major uprising in Guangzhou was planned in 1895 but the Qing Empire captured the revolutionaries who were involved before it could take place. The Second Guangzhou Uprising, also known in Mandarin as the Yellow Flower Mound Uprising, took place fifteen years later in 1910. Close to 100 revolutionaries stormed the residence of a local Qing official but imperial soldiers quickly moved in and killed many of them. Although the uprising failed, their efforts would help lead to the Xinhai Revolution which would successfully overthrow the Qing Empire in 1911. In 1918, a monument for the martyrs was built with donations from Chinese immigrants who were involved in international chapters of revolutionary organizations. The Huanghuagang Monument was completed in 1921. The monument was made with 72 limestone blocks representing the martyrs who died in the uprising. Each limestone block was carved with the name of a martyr and an overseas organization that donated to the memorial such as the Chinese Nationalist League of Kingston, Canada.
On top of the Huanghuagang Monument, the builders also placed a Statue of Liberty, holding a book and a mallet, to symbolize that the revolutionaries in China shared the same ideals as revolutionaries in other parts of the world including the United States and France. Over the years, this feature of the monument has undergone a number of changes, reflecting the current political situation. In 1937, the statue was removed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and replaced with the government emblem. In 1949, the statue was reinstalled. The mallet in the statue’s hand was replaced with a rifle, reflecting Mao’s quote: “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” In 1961, the city government took initial steps to reconstruct the area and make it accessible to residents and visitors. The statue was reconstructed in 1981 and redesigned to hold a law book and a torch.
The grand entrance of Huanghuagang Park leads to a tree-lined path that directs the visitor towards the Huanghuagang Martyrs Monument.
Visitors can read about the site’s history in Mandarin on panels along the pathway. Although the monument is the central focus point of the park, visitors can also visit other points of interest such as the Yellow Flower Garden and the Silent Pool. Locals and visitors alike walk through the park to enjoy the scenery. Sitting in the park, it is easy to forget that one is in the middle of a major city with bustling streets full of activity.
The monument also provides visitors with the opportunity to learn more about a period in China’s history that led to major political changes in the country’s government structure. A visit to the park can help visitors better understand the current political context and the revolutionary figures that played a role.