Monday, January 3, 2011

To Rewrite History – Have Tourists Relive It!

I have been a student of China since I was but a wee lad in Brooklyn. Motivated by the cuisine and the fact that we had to actually get in the car and to the Chinese restaurant, I have been a life long Sinophile. In College I was the only ROTC student in Philosophy of Oriental Religion (it was a very long time ago). So it’s no surprise that I enjoyed the NY Times Article of 31 December: “Revolution Isn’t a Party, But It Draws The Tourists” which you can check out at: Photo source: Gilles Sabrie for the NY Times

It’s not Disneyland, but it fosters emotional attachment to the People’s Liberation Army and The Chinese Community Party. describes the travel destination:

Yangjialing Village

It was in this historical site about three kilometers northwest of Yan'an that the CPC Central Committee led the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression. At the entrance is an auditorium, a vaulted brick and wood structure. The small building at the rear used to be the office of the Central Committee's General Affairs Department. Mao Zedong, Zhu De, Zhou Enlai, and other leaders of the revolution had their residences on a small hill in the north. An exhibition hall has been built there to show the revolutionary activities of the leaders and the people in Yan'an. (see

This is a superb example of multifaceted information operations and plain old good salesmanship. In the sales business we’re taught that if you put the prospect in the picture of owning your product or using your service, you are well on the way to closing the sale.

In the case of Yan’an, today’s Chinese can put on uniforms of the revolution and experience battles as participants, albeit with a very safe perspective. This emotional connection to the revolution servers several purposes: it stimulates emotional support of today’s Chinese government because, after all, it is an extension of the Revolution. It also stimulates the domestic economy by encouraging those with money to spend to do so domestically.

In the US we have dedicated re-enactors who devote significant time and treasure to their hobby of dressing and acting like their forebears. Civil War re-enactors are very popular and the new sport of Cowboy Action Shooting is also on the upswing.
However, these kinds of efforts require dedication over time, something Americans are not famous for. Also it’s fair to say that most of the re-enactors are not the younger generation which seems to be attracted to Yan’an.

Perhaps Disney or Six Flags could devote part of one of their theme parks to mini-battles where people could experience battles of the past. Not only a good profit maker, but a help to bolster the American pride in ourselves.

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