ON JULY 1ST the Chinese Communist Party will celebrate its 100th birthday. The occasion has prompted a surge of interest in “red tourism”, involving visits to sites associated with the revolution that brought the Communists to power in 1949, and with the lives of Communist leaders. One of the best-known destinations is Jinggangshan in the southern province of Jiangxi. It is where Mao Zedong created the first rural base for the revolution in 1927. Another is Zunyi in the south-western province of Guizhou, where a crucial meeting cemented Mao’s control of the party in 1935. Many red tourists are retirees, who often wear caps displaying the Communist Party hammer and sickle or dress up in old-style Red Army uniforms. They frequently sing patriotic songs as they tour the sights. The party does not allow discussion of Mao-era horrors, such as the famine of the early 1960s that killed up to 30m people, or the brutal violence of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. In the build-up to the anniversary, the party has waged a campaign against “historical nihilism”, meaning any grumbling about the party’s past.
In Red Army uniform in Jinggangshan.
Outside the Revolution Museum in Jinggangshan. Retirees are a common sight at such “red tourism” destinations.
In line to enter Jinggangshan’s Revolution Museum. Every year millions of Chinese tourists flock to museums and sites related to the Chinese Communist Party and its history.
Posing in front of the Revolution Museum in Jinggangshan. Such “red tourism” is big business in China.
A revolution-themed restaurant in Jinggangshan. The city is famous for its “red culture”.
Tourists at a restaurant in Jinggangshan.
Tourists at a shop selling red souvenirs in Jinggangshan.
A statue of Mao Zedong for sale at a shop in Jinggangshan. There are dozens of such outlets in the town, offering souvenirs ranging from posters and Mao badges to huge statues costing as much as 300,000 yuan ($46,350).
China’s current leader, Xi Jinping, also features on some of Jinggangshan’s souvenirs, such as this mug.
Tourists at a former residence of Mao Zedong in Maoping, a township near Jinggangshan.
The former residence of Mao Zedong in Maoping township. Mao lived here between 1927 and 1929.
Retired women wearing Red Army uniforms sing revolutionary songs in Zunyi in the south-western province of Guizhou. Ahead of the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary, officials have opened a hotline to report online criticisms of the party and its history.
Tourists visit Zunyi Meeting Memorial Museum. In 1935 a meeting here of the Communist Party’s Politburo confirmed Mao Zedong as the guerrilla movement’s paramount leader.
Doing a red balletic pose for photos at the Zunyi Meeting Memorial Museum.
Read our special report on the Chinese Communist Party at 100