Thursday, September 06, 2007

Capitalism rescues Communism

Montargis is a town with a population of 15,030 and located about 110km south of Paris. It is a town much like many of the surrounding towns except for one characteristic: it was the cradle of Chinese communism. During the 1920’s there was a significant Chinese community in this town, and leaders such as Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Enlai lived and were introduced to Marxist doctrine here. They then, of course, moved back East and helped create China as we know it.

Because of this, Montargis features prominently in Chinese revolutionary history. The town, taking advantage of this source of fame, has erected memorials, built a Chinese website and has sent delegations to China. Despite these efforts, however, hardly any of the hundreds of thousands of Chinese tourists that visit Paris every year has stopped by this town.

So now the Montargis government has decided to build a visitor center, new stores with name brand perfumes and high-end French goods and value-added-tax refund programs. The hope is that better shopping will at least attract the Chinese tourists who travel South from Paris to stop along the way, thereby tempting their communist brethren to stop by thanks to their new capitalist enticements.