Mao-stalgia: red tourism in Zunyi, China

Gazing over a map of China, Zunyi appears far from the fray. The city is situated in the middle of landlocked Guizhou province, in the remote, mountainous and ethnically diverse southwest. Yet despite its obscurity, almost everyone in China has heard of Zunyi.

This is because in early 1935, the battle-weary Red Army held a meeting in Zunyi that would change the course of history. It was during the fabled Zunyi Conference that Chairman Mao Zedong negotiated his way to the emerging Communist party’s top spot. Today, with China more market-orientated than Marxist, this small Guizhou town is keen to exploit its red credentials, catering to the troops of sightseers now on the march across China.

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Calling the shots: photography festival lights up Lianzhou

Lianzhou is not on many tourist itineraries but, thanks to the efforts of one woman, once a year it becomes a hive of activity, as photographers from all over the world descend on the Guangdong town, writes Thomas Bird.

In Yuexiu, Guangzhou’s historic centre, is a jumbled neighbourhood of villas, some predating the Communist revolution of 1949. Down a back lane, one of these fine old houses bears a bright polished sign that reads “Lianzhou Foto” in bold capital letters.

Inside, all is fierce activity: an enormous Epson printer is running off glossy poster-sized images; editors are resizing photographs on desktop computers; interns are racing about nervously while full-time employees complain of sleep deprivation.

When Duan Yuting, founder and director of the Lianzhou International Photo Festival, arrives, she looks sleep-starved but spirited. The few weeks leading up to an event showcasing more than 140 photographers from across the globe are understandably hectic, but Duan appears to be comfortably in control.

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