Editor's note: To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, we are launching the "Outstanding CPC Members in the PLA" series, featuring the heroes and role models in the PLA who have made selfless dedication to defending the country, serving the people and building a strong military. The following is the seventh story of the series.
The "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road", which was set up in late 1940s, didn't made any prominent battle achievements compared with other heroic companies long tested on the battlefield. However, since stationed in Shanghai in 1949, the officers and men of the 8th Company have always remained cool-headed and maintained fine conduct, resisted erosion of hedonism and kept clear of extravagance, setting an example of hardworking and plain-living for the whole army. The "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road" stands out in the front of the array of heroic troop units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA).
Ｔhe supplies and gear transportation company of the 4th Battalion with a regiment under the PLA East China Military Command，the predecessor of the 8th Company was formed in 1947 at a village of Laiyang County, East China's Shandong Province. In June 1949, the company was reorganized into the 8th Company of the 3rd Battalion of the Guard Regiment under the PLA Shanghai Garrison and started to perform security patrol in the Nanjing Road and the Bund.
As the great War of Liberation fought by the Chinese people under the first-generation collective leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Mao Zedong as the core marched toward victory country-wide, Mao Zedong issued a call to all Party members: "We are going to the capital to 'take a test'. We cannot afford to fail the test, we must pass it." In the first years after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, for the CPC and the PLA, the most complicated "test venue" in China was Shanghai, and the most complicated "test venue" in Shanghai was the Nanjing Road, so to speak. Kuomintang even forecast that the CPC and its armed forces were doomed to fail to pass the test of hedonism and corruption in Shanghai.
Soldiers of the 8th Company started to perform patrol duty on the Nanjing Road in July, 1949. As time passed by, some abnormal phenomenon took place in the company: Some soldiers went to expensive western restaurants to taste foreign food; some visited luxury barbers, some bought cigars instead of cheap cigarettes, so on and so forth.
These abnormal phenomenon aroused vigilance of the political commissar of the 8th Company Zhang Chengzhi, who pointed out at the company’s Party branch meeting that the Nanjing Road was like a "battlefield without smoke of gunpowder", there was no way for the officers and men of the company to retreat and instead, they should keep high alert and could by no means be defeated on this "battlefield".
Service members of the 8th Company were urged to remain cool-headed and maintain fine conduct. They all expressed that they would bear in mind Mao Zedong's mindset of the "Two Musts" (we must keep the style of modesty and cautiousness without pride and restlessness; we must continue to keep the style of working hard) and maintain the glorious tradition of hard work and plain living. Officers and men of the company launched competitions to save a grain of rice, a drop of water, a kilowatt-hour of electricity. They walked to the suburbs a few kilometers away to plow wasteland and grow vegetables, etc. In 1961, when the vegetable supply in Shanghai was in acute shortages, they provided vegetables they grew to the local residents for free, which won high acclaim from the people in Shanghai.
On July 23, 1959, Jiefang Daily, the official organ of the CPC Shanghai Municipal Committee, published a front-page headline titled "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road" , which was the first detailed report of the story of the company in a newspaper issued nationwide.
The year of 1959 witnessed the severe food shortage in China, the spirit of the "Good 8th Company" featured with thrifty and hard work showed inestimable value. Newspapers in Shanghai and all parts of China reprinted the moving stories of the company, hence, the 8th Company on Nanjing Road started to be known throughout the country.
On April 25, 1963, the 8th Company was awarded the honorary title of "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road" by China's Ministry of National Defense. Over the past few decades, its fine traditions of resisting erosion, keeping clean and thrift, serving people wholeheartedly and working hard unremittingly have never changed.
In 2017, on the 54th anniversary of the naming of the "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road", the company was transformed from a motorized infantry unit to a special operations unit. In less than a year, the company completed the transformation from "sentinels under the neon lights" to "elites for special operations". The fine tradition of the "Good 8th Company on Nanjing Road" has been carried forward from generation to generation. "The 8th Company on Nanjing Road" has become an unfading and glorious banner of the PLA.