Setting up Red Tourism in Modern China – The Project
Since 2005 sites of red tourism (红色旅游) have been supported and developed by the government of the People’s Republic of China, intending to become a key element of the booming tourism industry while serving as sources of political identity, aiming at preserving a communist sense of identity in a “rapidly changing China” (Li Yiping et al. 2010).
Despite the strong attention paid to these places by the central government and the Communist Party the development of these places did not follow a fixed plan but was constantly updated and adjusted to national and local circumstances.
The “General Plan for the Development of Red Tourism in 2004-2010” (2004－2010年全国红色旅游发展规划纲要) that was issued by the General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the General Office of the State Council aimed for establishing 100 so-called red tourism classic scenic spots (红色旅游经典景区) of which more than 80% were supposed to reach the national tourism scenic spot level 3A or above, and 40% of them the 4A standard. The first list of 100 scenic spots was published in the People’s Daily (Renmin Ribao) on the 24th and 25th March 2005 (全国红色旅游经典景区) (List here, see also Link 1, Link 2, Link 3), yet the prospects of receiving financial support for developing tourism sites even in the remote parts of the country led to a local frenzy of identifying places that were not included in this list.
What is important to note is that not all of these spaces are created or run exclusively by state authorities. There are a number of private museums and exhibitions that are–though officially recognized–try to deviate from the official pattern of representing the past. Being more creative in arranging exhibitions they try to avoid the didactic dullness of state-run museums that see their propagandistic function to be more relevant than catering for the needs and interests of visitors.
The sites detailed in this topography of red memory can be subcategorized as follows:
- Sites dedicated to places of historical events that are central to the understanding of 19th and 20th century China
- Museums that re-narrate the historical past
- Sites where famous historical personae were born and/or were active, as well as their tombs and sites of commemoration (in case of martyrs these are either physical or digital sites.
Research for this site has been supported by a grant of the German Research Foundation (DFG, 404534127), as part of our project Producing and Consuming Authenticity — Politics of the Past in the Cultural and Creative Industries in the Sinophone Sphere.
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Yan’an geming jinianguan 延安革命纪念馆 (1959) Yan’an geming jinian jianzhu 延安革命纪念建筑 (Buildings commemorating the Revolution in Yan’an), Beijing, Wenwu chubanshe.
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