Jiangxi province hosts cities and rural settlements that were crucial to the operations of the Party and Red Army in the early 20th century and remain important to public education today, report Cheng Yuezhu in Beijing and Wang Jian in Nanchang.
Jiangxi province has long been a landmark of the Communist Party of China's revolutionary movements. It's home to a slew of historical sites and educational institutions where the stories of leaders and martyrs of yore are still told.
Its major cities, including its capital Nanchang and county-level cities Jinggangshan and Ruijin, have remained iconic red-tourism destinations, drawing visitors from around the country and the world to learn about the revolutions and zeitgeist of the early 20th century.
Nanchang, a city with a history of over 2,000 years, hosted the founding of the People's Liberation Army with the monumental Nanchang Uprising on Aug 1, 1927.
The CPC had endured the Kuomintang's political purges earlier that year, and decided to engage in armed resistance.
A revolutionary force led by He Long arrived in Nanchang in late July of 1927.
The Jiangxi Grand Hotel was turned into a command center, and a CPC front-line committee headed by Party leader Zhou Enlai was established.
Under the leadership of military strategists, including Zhou, He, Ye Ting, Zhu De and Liu Bocheng, the uprising began at 2 am on Aug 1.
Thousands from the opposing side were defeated after more than four hours of combat.
The revolt marked the beginning of the CPC independently leading an armed revolution and establishing its own army.
In commemoration, the date is designated as the national Army Day, and the Chinese characters for Aug 1 are printed on the military flag.
The Jiangxi Grand Hotel has been preserved as a part of the Nanchang Aug 1st Memorial Hall.
The city has more than 30 red-tourism destinations, says Xu Kai, a representative of Nanchang's culture bureau.
"Our city has created a number of well-known red-tourism destination brands," Xu says.
"The Nanchang Aug 1st Memorial Hall and the Nanchang New Fourth Army Exhibition Hall are national-level 4A scenic areas. And the Xiaoping Path scenic area is rated 3A and, following renovations, is applying for 4A status."
Much investment has been made to preserve historical relics and upgrade visitor experiences.
The local government has invested nearly 50 million yuan ($7.72 million) to restore sites related to the Nanchang Uprising and improve their security, and fire－and lightning-protection facilities.
The museums have adopted such technologies as virtual reality and augmented reality to provide immersive experiences for viewers of different age groups and cultural backgrounds.
The picturesque mountainous city of Jinggangshan on Jiangxi's southwestern border is known as a cradle of the revolution and a cornerstone of New China's founding.
In October 1927, Mao Zedong led the revolutionary army to the Jinggangshan area, waging guerrilla warfare and establishing CPC organizations.
The Party's first rural revolutionary base, the Jinggangshan Revolutionary Base, was essentially established by the end of January 1928. It's where the strategy of encircling the cities from the countryside was proposed as an adaptation of Marxist principles tailored to Chinese conditions.
The strategy was later elaborated upon in Mao's famous letter, entitled A Single Spark Can Start a Prairie Fire. The phrase points out that, while the Red Army may seem trivial, it possesses great potential to kindle rapid transformation.
The "Jinggangshan spirit", which values faith, perseverance, reason and the people, has been passed down to contemporary times.
The city has established a number of education bases, including the China Executive Leadership Academy Jinggangshan, the Jiangxi Executive Leadership Academy and a revolutionary-education base for teenagers.
The number of people visiting Jinggangshan for educational programs to study the history of the CPC continually increased during the five years until 2019, when 435,700 people participated.
Trainees come from 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions on the Chinese mainland, as well as Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.
Former vice-inspector of the CPC History Research Office Xing Jiping says Jinggangshan has developed an interactive red-education system that incorporates lectures, dramas, AR and role playing to enable participants to experience Red Army soldiers' everyday lives.
The China Executive Leadership Academy Jinggangshan, for instance, is renowned for its innovative teaching method of bringing its lectures out of classrooms and to the historical sites. The trainees take field trips to pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs and retrace the Red Army's arduous path.
"These approaches have enlivened the profound red culture and enhanced trainees' empathy," Xing says.
"A regulated, refined and standardized management model for red education has been established, which can be copied, promoted and sustained."
Following the success of the Jinggangshan Revolutionary Base and a series of guerrilla attacks, Mao, Zhu De and other Red Army leaders founded the Central Revolutionary Base and the Chinese Soviet Republic.
The provisional central government of the Chinese Soviet Republic was founded in Jiangxi on Dec 7,1931, with Ruijin as its capital. Mao assumed the chairmanship.
The Red Army, comprising mainly workers and farmers, became the Party's authorized armed force.
Kuomintang attacks forced the Red Army to evacuate the Central Revolutionary Base in October 1934 and begin the Long March.
But the regime provided valuable references for the construction of revolutionary bases during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45) and the War of Liberation (1946-49), as well as the establishment of New China's administrative system.
Ruijin's tourism development has gone beyond tapping its historical resources to also focus on sustainability, in hopes of developing both red and green travel. It seeks to become a zero-waste city, says Zhong Yanlin, director of Ruijin's revolutionary destination research center.
An exemplar is the Yuxue Ruijing scenic spot built in an abandoned quarry, after more than four decades of mining damaged the vegetation and surrounding environment.
"The scenic spot was created in 2019 and opened to the public in January 2020, transforming the mountains into a grand stage for an immersive play with a cast of over 200 performers and advanced lighting technology," Zhong says.
"It transports audiences back to that era so they can closely observe the establishment of the Chinese Soviet Republic and the Red Army's departure along the Long March."
Since 2018, the city has been transforming defunct factories and schools into red-education bases. For instance, the Hongyuan training base in a renovated factory hosts lecture halls, canteens and dormitories that can accommodate over 600 students.
The city has also been preserving its historical sites with sustainable measures and promoting zero waste to the general public.