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The Endless Search for Fang Dazeng
Text by Yang Yunqian Photographs courtesy of Feng Xuesong unless otherwise credited


Some photos by Fang Dazeng. An excellent war correspondent and photographer, Fang Dazeng took a great number of photos of soldiers and commanders on the frontlines. He also documented the lives of ordinary people in the 1920s and 1930s with his camera.  1936: As Japanese troops attack China‘s Suiyuan region, Fang Dazeng embarks on horseback to the battlefield. A news photographer with the China and Foreign Journalism Society, Fang contributed to a great number of new photos and articles from the frontlines.  Feng Xuesong (right) with his crew members, finishing the last shot of the documentary Looking for Fang Dazeng. While shooting the film, Feng discovered more traits of Fang including his vision of news, professionalism and patriotism.

At 8 o’clock on the morning of December 12, 2016, having traversed the whole of Beijing City, Feng Xuesong, a TV producer and documentary director, finally arrived at the Liangxiang Campus of Beijing Technology and Business University. It was the 14th leg of the campaign “Fang Dazeng on Campus,” and also the final leg of 2016.

Initiated by Feng Xuesong, “Fang Dazeng on Campus” is a charity event, which aims to visit 20 Chinese universities to display Fang Dazeng’s life and China’s history in his times. The tour began in September 2015 and will run until July 2017, the end date marking both the 80th anniversary of the Lugou Bridge Incident (also known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident), launched by Japan in July 1937, and also the 105th anniversary of the birth of Fang Dazeng.

Since the end of 1999, Feng has been “looking for Fang Dazeng” in all kinds of ways. He has looked up historical documents, visited Fang’s old friends and returned to the last places mentioned in reports by Fang. Feng has not missed anything about Fang and has done almost biographical research on him. “Looking for Fang has been the most time-consuming task of my career,” claims Feng. “I won’t stop until I find him.”


Why Look for Fang?

On July 7, 1937, Japan began its full-scale invasion of China by launching the Lugou Bridge Incident, on the outskirts of Beijing. Three days later, Fang, then 25 years old, rushed to the battlefield with his camera. On August 1, as fighting against the Japanese aggressors continued on Lugou Bridge, a 7,000-word article under his pen name “Xiao Fang” was published in World Affairs, a magazine founded by the Communist Party of China in 1934. This was the first article to cover the battle with both text and pictures, making Fang the first correspondent ever to report on the Lugou Bridge Incident.



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