Feature: Zunyi: hot chilies, red sorghum and Red Army

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GUIYANG, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Tao Huabi, founder of the "Lao Gan Ma" chili sauce brand so beloved by overseas Chinese students, comes from the city of Zunyi, in southwest China's Guizhou Province.

The acid, red soil in Zunyi, rich in chili peppers, is also home to red sorghum, the raw material of many famous Chinese liquor brands such as Moutai.

But despite these claims to fame, for many Chinese the city will forever be known as the home of the Zunyi Meeting held by the Chinese Red Army.

BRIDGE DIFFERENT AGES

In January 1935, an enlarged meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee was held in Zunyi during the Long March.

The meeting focused on rectifying the left-leaning errors in military and organizational affairs and established the correct leadership of the new Central Committee, as represented by Mao Zedong.

The Zunyi Meeting is regarded as a crucial turning point of the Long March, leading to the ultimate success of the Chinese revolution.

Since then, Zunyi has become a sacred place for generations of CPC members, and the footprints of the Red Army are forever imprinted on the city's culture and spirits.

Over eight decades after the Long March, as its neighboring cities scramble to modernize and adopt the latest in high-tech technology, Zunyi seems more willing to look to the past.

At the site of the Zunyi Meeting, located in the old urban area of Zunyi, both the chairs placed around the table and the bedrooms prepared for the participants are arranged delicately to commemorate the historic event.

Opposite to the site, in the exhibition hall, visitors can not only enjoy the exhibition with rich pictures, cultural relics and films made by holographic projection technology, but also see with their own eyes the slogans left by the Red Army.

At that time, the Red Army asked the soldiers who could write to use charcoal and brushes to write at least one slogan a day on the walls and the doors of the local residents.

The slogans were so concise, catchy and easy to understand that the political ideas of the Party and the aims of the Red Army quickly resonated with the local people.

Since 1949, the city has collected doors with slogans, posters and written folk songs and stored these historical artifacts in the exhibition hall.

Recognizing the fading handwriting, the audience's attentive expressions gradually turn into knowing smiles, bridging the generations and the history of the Red Army.

NURTURE RED CULTURE

Li Zhijing, 34, a local resident, came to the exhibition hall with his 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son on Thursday.

"Over the past few years, I have often taken my children to visit red historical sites and listen to the historical stories, so that they can truly understand the history of the Red Army and develop a correct view of history," he said.

Since 2016, the education bureau in Honghuagang District of Zunyi has launched a training program for pupils who will serve as "little exhibition guides" on weekends and holidays. The youngest is eight years old, and the oldest is just 14.

"I love the stories of my hometown. The red gene is inside my heart," said Wang Yanchi, 12, who signed up for the program in the fourth grade.

The program will help students gain an in-depth understanding of their hometown's revolutionary traditions and help them establish clear goals and plans for their future, said Luo Weiwei, an official of the education bureau.

Jia Fuzong, a 57-year-old tourist from north China's Hebei Province, spent nearly a week with his wife and their parents sightseeing the historical sites of the Red Army in the city.

"Only by visiting historical sites, learning about the history, and then observing the city's development, the improvement of the lives of the residents and their optimistic attitudes toward life, can we deeply feel and understand the importance of drawing strength from history," Jia said.

Zunyi's red tourism has been in full swing in recent years.

In the first 10 months of 2018, local red tourism drew more than 40 million visitors, far exceeding the number for 2017. The total revenue reached 27 billion yuan (about 3.9 billion U.S. dollars) in the same period, with a year-on-year growth of over 500 percent, according to the city's culture, sports and tourism bureau.