Chinese Communists make anniversary pilgrimage

Across a large square in the northern Chinese village of Xibaipo, row after row of people have lined up with their fists and flags held high.

Chanting slogans like “I will fight for socialism” and “I will never betray the Party,” they’re celebrating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party on July 1.

Xibaipo, in China’s Hebei province, was just one stop along an exclusive government-organized media tour across some of the Party’s most revered locations.

It was an important base for the party during the Chinese Civil War, which resulted in the Communists sweeping into power.

Reuters spoke to several visitors making a pilgrimage to the village, including 17-year-old high school student Mao Weijia.

"I am excited. I feel I'm taking on a responsibility too, to strive for the realisation of Communism. As a young person who is (soon) entering adulthood of course I (and others) carry the future of our motherland. I have come to Xibaipo to learn about the red (communist) spirit so that I can build the new China better and better."

Chinese government officials say visitor numbers have stepped up at party landmarks like Xibaipo and Yan’an.

Many visitors said they were taking part in party building trips organised by their local party unit, school or employer.

Party researchers like Xu Jia say the push to study more party history isn't just because of the anniversary.

It's also about instilling loyalty in its members.

"We don't request loyalty from every average Chinese person. But if you are a party member, you are not allowed to criticise the party in public. You will have (internal) channels to speak but not in public."

Jia says this has become the party's main focus over the past decade, as Chinese President Xi Jinping seeks to solidify party unity in the face of challenges like the U.S. trade war and unrest in Hong Kong.

But that didn't seem to deter many visitors from traveling far and wide to mark the party's anniversary.

Roughly 90 million of China's 1.4 billion people are party members.

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