Red Tourism: China’s Political Pilgrimages

Roman Pilipey


Every year, millions of Chinese tourists flock to museums and sites that pay tribute to the country’s Communist Party (CCP) and its revolutionary past spending millions of yuan on the political pilgrimages, which are central to what is known in China as ‘Red Tourism’. The tours take visitors to historically significant sites for the Party, battlefields, and residences of important former communist leaders. In 2021, with the Party marking its 100th anniversary, the stream of visitors was expected to reach its zenith. Estimates show, that more than 800 million travels take place every year to 'red tourism' sites or tourism-related with the Communist Party history and legacy. The booming industry is also pushed by the government, which invested 2.68 billion yuan (around 341 million euros) for its development between 2016 and 2020. As well as tourists, workers from state companies and CCP members also come to take classes at party-run centers. The course teachers insist that students can debate the history of the Party but stop short of saying whether discussions are allowed on some of the CCP’s more contentious periods, such as the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1962 that left anywhere between 15 and 55 million people dead due to famine, or the purges amid the chaos and violence of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. Before the CCP’s 100th anniversary, Chinese authorities have opened a hotline to receive tips of online comments that disparage the Party and its history - all a part of an ongoing campaign against those who disagree with the Party line or "who deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture".

Roman Pilipey is a Ukrainian photojournalist working for the European Pressphoto Agency (epa). His photography career started from freelancing for different Ukrainian news agencies and newspapers while at the same time studying journalism at one of Kyiv’s universities. The first main event he witnessed as the photographer was the Euromaidan revolution in Kyiv, 2013-2014, which he covered from the beginning until the end mainly for epa as the freelance photographer. From 2014 he was covering the war in eastern Ukraine, and the same year became the epa staff photographer. For the next few years, Roman’s focus was mainly on the eastern Ukraine conflict and its aftermath, while also working in other parts of Ukraine. In 2017 Roman relocated to Beijing from where he works on stories and covers major news events in China as the epa photographer. In 2022 he became the epa bureau chief for the China region. Throughout his years in China, he has been traveling to almost every corner of the country. Some of the main coverage stories include the situations in Xinjiang and Tibet, as well in 2019 he has been covering the protest movement in Hong Kong, and in 2020 the Covid-19 pandemic in Wuhan, the ground zero of the coronavirus.

[ CULTURAL PRACTICES ] A set of photographs that increases the understanding and appreciation of a cultural practice. It can be about festivals, religion, traditions, or contemporary cultural trends. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.

Judges for Cultural Practices
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung