In remarks that might surprise those who have only heard him snipe at the Chinese government and its leaders, the Dalai Lama on Sunday disclosed that he had such good relations with Chairman Mao Zedong that he regarded him as “a father”. He also flirted with Communism as a young man, he said.
Recalling his close relationship with Mao in a BBC interview, the Tibetan religious leader recounted how, at formal dinners, the Chinese leader would make him sit by his side and personally serve him in the best Chinese tradition.
“He [Chairman Mao] appears to me as a father and he himself considered me as a son. [We had] very good relations. The only problem was that on many occasions, when official dinners were held, Chairman Mao always used to bring me to his side. So, then as Chinese tradition, Chairman Mao himself would use his chopsticks to put some food in my plate. So, in a way it was a great honour, but in a way I feel little fear...he coughing too much, a chain smoker, so I might get some germs [laughing].”
The Dalai Lama acknowledged with a laugh when asked by the interviewer, Andrew Marr, whether as a young man he was “attracted by some aspects of Communism”. He then approvingly cited Marxist economic theory which, he believed, offered a solution to the current economic crisis in the West.
“When I was in China, I learnt Marxist economy theory, which has an emphasis on equal distribution, rather than just profit. Since we human beings created this [economic] problem, we also have ability to overcome it. In spite of our difficulties, we should not give up our hope...we must keep our self confidence, that is very important”, said the 76-year-old Nobel Laureate.
Asked whether after over 50 years in exile, he thought he could ever go back to Tibet, he said the older Tibetans wanted him to return “as soon as possible before their death”, but other “politically sensible” people believed that under the present circumstances, he should remain outside in a free country.
“Their message is that (by remaining outside Tibet), you can do more for us. If you return you will yourself become like a prisoner”, he said.
The Sex Life of Chairman Mao
How and Why He Slept with So Many Virgin Girls
Chairman Mao Zedong had a long and varied sex life, both with his several wives and the many young girls procured for his longevity.
As Eric Hobsbawn has pointed out in Revolutionaries, the widespread belief that there is some connection between social revolutionary movements and permissiveness in sexual behaviour actually has no basis in fact. Indeed, there is by contrast a strain of Puritanism in many revolutionary movements. This seems to be particularly true in the Maoist forms of revolution, since they have tended to focus on the movement (as represented by for example the Chinese Communist Party or the Angkar of the Khmer Rouge) taking the place of the family. The young Chinese Communists who supported Mao Zedong as he emerged as the leader of the movement were in fact positively forbidden from any kind of personal intimacy. Despite the constant threat of death or serious injury, not to mention capture by the enemy, the young men and women had to endure without physical comfort from each other.
This restriction did not, of course, apply to Mao himself. Anchee Min’s Becoming Madame Mao describes the sound of passion coming from Mao’s quarters, as he made love to the young actress who was to become the terror of the Cultural Revolution, quite unnerving the young guards posted outside. Mao of course was by then onto what was to become marriage to his third wife. However, these marital liaisons were but one part of his sexual life. Throughout the period of his ascendancy, as reports of his personal life have made clear, young and virgin girls were brought to his bed on a regular basis. Agents, they might equally be termed pimps, roamed the Chinese countryside searching for suitable girls and explained the situation to their parents. They were sold the idea that a great honour was being provided for them and their daughter. Perhaps financial or material inducements were also provided at need. Presumably, there are a number of these women living still in China with Mao’s children, although this is not a subject which is discussed very much in the public sphere.
As for Mao himself, an endless series of young girls and a sense of entitlement would be strong enough inducements for most men but, in his case, he did seem to have a genuine intent to reach an advanced age, which he managed to achieve to a reasonable extent. There has been a longstanding belief in Chinese society that men can reinvigorate themselves by absorbing life energy from younger women through sexual contact. In fact, older women could receive the same favour from younger boys but, apart from the Empress Wu and her like, much fewer have been able to take advantage of the possibility.