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Shortly after its establishment in the mid-1950s, the state-run China International Travel Service began to supplement its work hosting foreign tourists with a program of outbound tours for Chinese citizens to other socialist nations. This article examines this tourism program in the decade prior to the Cultural Revolution. I conclude that this tourist trade was part of the formation of a vision of socialist modernity and a component of the socialist world economy. Up until the late 1950s, China’s participation in tourist trade with the Soviet Union was motivated by economic concerns as much as by political ones, but China’s state tourism officials became preoccupied with the political implications of this exchange as relations between the two countries deteriorated. By the early 1960s, with the Soviet Union no longer a major economic partner and China’s vision of socialist modernity no longer a Soviet one, the rationale for this program largely evaporated.