Red Tourism in China

Der Spiegel has an interesting piece on “Red Tourism” in China:

The Chinese government has dubbed this “red tourism,” and it is meant as a response to its people’s identity crisis, to a certain sense of emptiness and alienation. What exactly should people in China believe in these days? Who is really still interested in ideology? Taking a proactive approach to these questions, the Communist Party decided to put its own history on stage to create reminders of the revolution in various places around the country — and to make clear to all Chinese citizens who made their country great. The government has also set up a “National Coordination Group for Red Tourism” and convened “Conferences for Red Tourism” that have even been attended by a member of the Politburo.

All this revolutionary education certainly benefits the country’s economy. According to the party’s newspaper, “red tourism” has created millions of jobs and built thousands of kilometers of highway and several new airports. Soon Chinese patriots will even be able to fly to the spot in the desert where China tested its first nuclear bomb in 1964.

How one actor prepares for his role as Mao:

Actor Wu Yongtang earns 10,000 yuan, or about €1,200, each month for his performances as Mao, as well as a bonus for performing every day. Wu wouldn’t be easy to replace, and a limited resource brings in a higher price — even here on the Mao market. But Wu doesn’t really like to talk about money. Instead he explains that Mao appears in his dreams and interprets this as meaning “he wants me to play him.”

Before finding the role of his life, Wu had only worked as a driver, first in the army and then for a factory. He beat out two other applicants for the Mao role at the first interview because they were both barely 1.7 meters (5 foot 7 inches) tall, or too short to play Mao, who was 1.8 meters tall.

Unlike official Communist line, the article (part II here) is more than 70% good.

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