Red Tourism boosts economy and history

Tyler Terrance O'Neil( | Updated: 2016-09-23 10:04

Fancy a Kindle? Take the Long March quiz

Red Tourism boosts economy and history

The event was held on the Huishi Bridge to commemorate the joint of forces of the Red Army. [Photo provided to]

The ceremony began on the southern end of the Huishi Bridge, with our platoon of reporters lining up in rows and columns. Then there were a series of speeches before we began our march.

Lead by a man waving a banner and a handful of uniformed soldiers, we marched across the bridge in formation. Then down the street, blocking one lane. It was a grand gesture, an activity that clearly held a lot of significance for the organizers.

Then we reached the reconstructed Gate of Joining Forces and a three-part pagoda that represented the union of the armies near the end of the Long March. There was a wreath laying and my fellow reporters formed a queue to lay flowers between the wreaths.

I felt very out of place.

I’m usually pretty comfortable in China. I know enough of the language to make friends and accomplish whatever I want to do. I'm a chopstick master and I've traveled quite a bit in the country. But being the only foreigner in miles, wearing a Red Army costume hat handed out by the organizers, and partially participating in a ceremony to memorialize fighters in the revolution was surreal.

But while the march and ceremony seemed odd and uncomfortable for me, most of the people around me treated it as a reverent but everyday experience. Later, when my fellow China Daily reporter Ma Chi explained the concept of "Red Tourism" to me, I started to understand.

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