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Communist Party Theme Park Sparks Online Ridicule

writer: Tom Phillips source:

A Communist party theme park built to celebrate the anniversary of the Red Army’s takeover of China has sparked scorn and ridicule among Chinese internet users.

The 300,000 sq m attraction opened on Monday in the city of Wuhan before Thursday’s national day holiday marking the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949.

“Using lively, populist art, the park shows the roles models and history of the party, exerting a subtle influence on the public and providing them with a ‘red benefit’,” promises an article on a local government website.

However, China’s sharp-tongued online community has reacted with contempt to the idea of using taxpayers’ money to bankroll what many described as a propaganda park.

“What a waste of good land,” one critic wrote on Weibo, the Twitter-like social media site.

“They don’t believe in it themselves and yet they want the public to believe it,” complained another.

“It should be called the brainwashing theme park,” wrote a third.

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Theme parks are a booming business in China. Chinese developers reportedly have spent $24bn on such attractions in 2013 compared with $9bn in 2011.

Universal Studios is planning a $3.3bn theme park in Beijing with Steven Spielberg involved in the design.

A $5.5bn Disneyland resort, reputedly featuring the largest castle on Earth, is set to open in Shanghai next year.

Wuhan’s Communist party theme park seems to have rather less to offer.

Instead of Tarzan, Mickey Mouse and Captain Jack Sparrow, newspaper reports suggest visitors will be greeted by statues of 35 “model communists” including Red Army veteran Liu Huaqing, an early party leader called Cai Hesen, and Li Siguang, a geologist and senior party member who studied at the University of Birmingham.

Visitors to other theme parks might hope to encounter flesh-eating zombies, lost temples or swashbuckling pirates.

Photographs of the Communist theme park published by the Wuhan Evening News show tourists heading there will have to make do with bushes carved into the shape of the Communist party’s “socialist core values” which the president, Xi Jinping, has promoted since coming to power in 2012.

So-called “red tourism” has made a comeback under Xi with towns and cities across China seeking to cash in on their role in the Communist party’s history.

Wuhan authorities are planning to build five theme parks in tribute to Xi’s 85 million-member party, the local government website says.

Online critics have vowed to vote with their feet.

“These kind of brainwashing projects are a complete waste of taxpayers’ money,” vented one angry Weibo user.

“I won’t be visiting,” wrote another.