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Siyue Library in Dongmen
Latest Updated by 2006-12-11 11:12:43

Surrounded by the shops and bustle of Dongmen -- Shenzhen's heart of commerce, Siyue Library with a history of 300 years offers visitors a corner to sit back, drink tea, read books and learn calligraphy.

The Qing-style house, rebuilt using old bricks, stands serene under a blue sky.

It opens a small window on the city's past. Perhaps in honor of its long history of promoting reading, a teahouse with shelves of books and a calligraphy store are located in the building. Yin Xiaoqin, a member of the city's calligraphers' society, gives lessons at the shop.

First built during the rule of Qing Emperor Xuan Ye (1662-1723), Siyue Library, located at 22 Nanqing Street in Dongmen, was originally a schoolhouse. The wood-and-brick building, occupying an area of 210 square meters, was used to accommodate workers from Hong Kong during a big strike in 1925.

"Educate the public and let them benefit from book learning" is the motto of the ancient library. The Zhangs of a local village call Shuibei built it to house a private school in memory of their 13th generation ancestor Zhang Siyue, who lived during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Zhang Junqi, a descendant of the family, said most of the local Zhangs live in today's Xiangxi, Shuibei, Hubei and Huangbeiling villages.

"Zhang Siyue had three brothers by the name of Aiyue, Huaiyue and Nianyue, who were the ancestors of Xiangxi and Hubei villagers," he said.

As Guangdong Province was one of the earliest places in China to come under the influence of Marxism, it was no wonder that Siyue Library witnessed an uprising.

On June 19, 1925, more than 250,000 Hong Kong and Guangzhou workers launched a big strike to protest against the May 30 massacre by British colonists in Shanghai. They asked for freedom and fair legal treatment from British colonists in Hong Kong. When denied, more than 100,000 workers left the territory for Guangzhou led by revolutionaries such as Su Zhaozheng. The strike, lasting 16 months, is the longest strike in world history.

As more than 1,000 Hong Kong workers either walked or took the train daily to Shenzhen during that period, Siyue Library became a stopover for them, offering temporary accommodation. Nearby villagers brought food, and some people even made room for the workers in their own houses.

Siyue Library changed its name into Zhonghe Inn around 1949. In 1952, after a nationwide land reform, the place became State property. The Shenzhen Municipal Government declare it a city-level protected historical site in July 1988.

Torn down during an upgrade of the Dongmen area in 1996, the library was rebuilt in the Dongmen Cultural Square in 1999.

Editor: Donald

By: Source: Szdaily web edition
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