This essay focuses on groups of European intellectuals (mainly French and Italians) traveling to revolutionary China in 1955. The move toward Mao’s regime followed the invitation that Prime Minister Zhou Enlai had addressed to the world public opinion during the Bandung Conference. His message («come and see») was received enthusiastically by intellectuals feeling at odds with the Cold War politics in Europe. The author points out that the emergence of the new Communist regime stimulated in the political discourse the image of a third way both revolutionary and democratic. The Chinese authorities dealt with visitors by following the rules that Mao had established during the Long March: «Security, secrecy, friendliness and red guides». The travelers’ willing to believe make the authorities’ job easier. The author shows how most of the travelers brought back home the positive image of a State-party, eager to eradicate poverty and backwardness. He also discusses the reasons why just a few of them worried about the violation of civil rights and liberties, whereas the U. S. liberals were shaping the notion of Totalitarianism also by taking into account the emergence of the Chinese communist regime.
Keywords: Intellectuals, Third way, Chinese revolution, fellow travellers, political pilgrimage, Bandung conference