Chinese Whispers

What Beidaihe reveals about the changing nature of Communist leadership

26 min listen

178 miles to the east of Beijing, there’s a beach resort called Beidaihe. The water is shallow and the sand is yellow and fine. Luxurious holiday villas dot the coastline. Starting from the 1950s, leaders of the Chinese Communist Party have moved their families and work to Beidaihe in the summer, making the beach resort something of a summer capital. Secrecy clouds the gatherings, and though this tradition continues, today the resort seems to serve a much more leisurely purpose when the CCP visits.

On this episode, I’m joined by the historian James Carter and Bill Bishop, editor of the very popular Sinocism newsletter, to discuss where Communist leaders go, when they go on summer holiday. What is the changing role of Beidaihe, and what does this tell us about the changing nature of Communist leadership?

Presented by Cindy Yu.

Produced by Cindy Yu and Joe Bedell-Brill.