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The Communist Party of China's remarkable performance at home and abroad during the past five years, with Xi Jinping as the core of the Party's Central Committee, is bringing attention to its birthplace in Shanghai.
"The commonest question visitors raise is how the Party can develop from the initial 13 founders under very difficult conditions to nearly 90 million members," said Zhang Liming, curator of the Memorial Hall of the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
The centenary two-story brick-and-wood building juxtaposed with stylish brand stores on a shady street in Shanghai's downtown, where the milestone meeting was convened with 13 delegates in July 1921, attracted 3.6 million visits during the past five years and more than 15 million visits since its opening in 1952.
Xi was re-elected Party chief at the 19th CPC National Congress in Beijing in October. Immediately after that, he visited the memorial hall, with the six other members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau, on Oct 31st.
Xi's visit is a watershed. Last month, the number of visitors increased by 60 percent year-on-year, according to Zhang, who remains excited at recalling how Xi told him that although he cannot often visit, his heart has been settled here since long before and however far the Party goes it should never forget where it came from.
Since Xi's visit, visitors often line up outside the old building.
"It takes about 15 minutes to introduce all the items. We work like this throughout eight hours a day," said Zhu Peijing, a guide at the hall.
"Many people had visited the memorial hall before, but
they now seem to be having a keen interest in gaining new understanding of the Party's early stage and seeing the connection between history and today," Zhu said.
"Some senior Party members shed tears," said Yang Yu, director of the memorial hall's publicity and education department, who served as guide during Xi's visit.
"General Secretary Xi's observation was very careful, and he often raised questions and communicated with us. He read the congress' resolution word by word," Yang added.
"Visiting the memorial hall reminds me that being always ready to solve the people's difficulties is not only my duty, but also my honor as a Party member", Jiang Kaijun, a local residential community secretary, said after a visit.
The memorial hall stages some live shows to tell the life stories of some early Party members.
Yin Yiteng, a People's Liberation Army soldier, said the plays provide a vivid means to help him gain a deeper insight into the figures' internal struggles and emotional activities at some key historic moments.
"It is an unforgettable educational experience to watch the show in the historic site," he said.
Shanghai also has memorials at the sites of the CPC's second and fourth national congresses, as well as memorials at battlegrounds of resistance against Japanese aggression at Wusong and Baoshan, as well as at the Sihang Warehouse.
Shanghai's tourism bureau said that "Red Tourism", or tourism at the historic sites related to the CPC and the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), are increasingly popular with travelers and local residents.
Statistics from online travel agencies show Shanghai is the No 1 choice for travelers interested in Red Tourism this year, followed by Beijing, Nanchang and Guangzhou.
Dou Wenzhang, a member of the Chinese Tourism Reform and Development Consultative Committee, said Red Tourism has more meanings beyond the conventional tourism industry.
"Shanghai has done a good job in combining its local characteristics or history with its Red Tourism resources. It is conducive to playing up tourism's multiple functions of cultivating patriotism, promoting revolutionary education and providing visitors a firsthand experience of observing the historic sites," Dou said.