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  • Gordon Dumoulin

Known in China, little known beyond (6) - Nguyen Son 洪水

𝘐𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘺𝘦𝘢𝘳’𝘴 𝘊𝘦𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘯𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘊𝘰𝘮𝘮𝘶𝘯𝘪𝘴𝘵 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢, 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘦𝘪𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘸𝘦𝘭𝘭-𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘯𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘧𝘳𝘰𝘮 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘳 𝘱𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘱𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘭𝘺 𝘣𝘶𝘪𝘭𝘥-𝘶𝘱 𝘰𝘧 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘢𝘳𝘵𝘺 (1921) 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦’𝘴 𝘙𝘦𝘱𝘶𝘣𝘭𝘪𝘤 𝘰𝘧 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢 (1949) 𝘸𝘪𝘭𝘭 𝘣𝘦 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘥𝘶𝘤𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘴 𝘴𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘰𝘧 𝘸𝘦𝘦𝘬𝘭𝘺 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵𝘴 “𝘒𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘪𝘯 𝘊𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘢, 𝘭𝘪𝘵𝘵𝘭𝘦 𝘬𝘯𝘰𝘸𝘯 𝘣𝘦𝘺𝘰𝘯𝘥”

The only foreigner who joined all the way from the founding of the Chinese Red Army in 1927 to the victory of China's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in 1945, it is said that 𝗡𝗴𝘂𝘆𝗲𝗻 𝗦𝗼𝗻 or better known in China as 洪水 Hong Shui, meaning ‘flood’, took this Chinese name to picture himself as a ‘torrent of water’, scoffing at the negative connotation the Chinese nationalists attached to the word to label communists.

Nguyen Son was born in Hanoi in 1908 and at five years old he began to learn French at a Catholic school. When Son was fourteen years old he passed the Hanoi Teachers College. After the call by Nguyen Ai Quoc (better known as later President Ho Chi Minh from 1945-1969) for young people in Vietnam, better known as Ho Chi Minh, to study and join the long march in China, Son arrived in Guangzhou in 1925 to study at the Whampoa, China's first modern military academy and joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) the next year in 1926.

In the next almost two decades, he became known as a highly competent military leader in the battles and made significant contributions to the publicity of the Red Army and an inspiration for Red Army soldiers. Besides being a dynamic military leader, Son was editor-in-chief for 2 newspapers of the Red Army and organized gatherings to attract the people to the Communist Party. In 1938 he married Chen Jiange, a communist comrade and they got 2 children.

In 1945, upon the call of Ho Chi Minh, he returned to Vietnam to fight against the French colonialists. During these years he received news that his family in China died in the Civil War. Ho Chi Minh requested him to marry again in Vietnam with a daughter of famous Vietnamese scholar Le Du. Son returned to China in 1950 only to find out that his ‘Chinese’ family was still alive. These were inconsolable years though he was conferred the rank of Major General in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army by Chairman Mao Zedong in 1955, the same rank as he had received in the Vietnamese People’s Army as well.

One year after his high position in the Chinese government, lung cancer was diagnosed and he returned to Hanoi. Nguyen Son died in October 1956. “The general of two countries” is dearly remembered for his heroism both in China and Vietnam.


Read other episodes of "Known in China, little known beyond" here :

Known in China, little known beyond (1) - Isabel Crook

Known in China, little known beyond (2) - Dwarkanath Kotnis

Known in China, little known beyond (3) - Edgar Snow

Known in China, little known beyond (4) - Anna Louise Strong

Known in China, little known beyond (5) - Rewi Alley


#china #chinesehistory #chinesesociety #cpc2021

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