Wanda inks $1.7 billion "red tourism" site in China's Communist heartland

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Wanda group has signed a deal to build a sprawling complex for patriotic tourists to visit a site where the ruling Communist Party’s traces its revolutionary roots in northwestern Shaanxi province.

At a ceremony in Beijing on Thursday, China Wanda Group and the Yanan city government agreed to start work on a 12 billion yuan ($1.74 billion) “red tourism” project next year, the company said in a statement.

It was unclear from the announcement what portion of the money would be invested by Wanda.

“Wanda Group, in line with historical mission and social responsibility, promote the Yanan spirit and make the Yanan Wanda City a new national red tourism trademark,” Wanda’s billionaire chairman Wang Jianlin said in the statement.

Work on the site will begin next year and it should be open to the public by 2021, in time to take part in celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding.

The complex will include sections dedicated to revolutionary spirit, military entertainment, intangible cultural heritage and the early days of the party, as well as five squares themed on different stages of Yanan’s history.

The communists based themselves in Yanan from 1935, where they had retreated from Nationalist troops, before winning the Chinese civil war and establishing the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

The city, known as the cradle of the Communist revolution in party mythology, is a popular site for patriotic tourists.

($1 = 6.9050 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Alexander Smith