120 years after birth, Mao's presence lingers

Discussion in 'China' started by kseeker, Dec 23, 2013.

  1. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    120 years after birth, Mao's presence lingers - The Times of India

    BEIJING: With his image gracing bank notes and staring out from Tiananmen Gate, Mao Zedong remains a constant presence in China 120 years after his birth, revered as a hero who founded the communist state and restored national pride, even as China moves ever further from his vision of a communist society.

    China is marking Thursday's anniversary of his birth with relatively understated celebrations, a far cry from the cult of personality that once surrounded Mao, and a sign of how far China has traveled in the 37 years since his death and more than three decades since the junking of orthodox Marxism.

    President Xi Jinping invokes Mao in his fight against corruption and borrows Maoist concepts such as the "mass line" to extol the virtues of close ties between the rulers and those ruled. Yet he has also proposed giving the free market a "decisive role" in the economy, a concept that would have been anathema to the "Great Helmsman," as Mao was called.

    Still, as heirs of the rigid one-party political system imposed by Mao and his party comrades, the current leadership has a strong interest in venerating his memory.

    "Because Mao was founder of the communist state, to commemorate Mao is to in fact demonstrate the legitimacy of their own rule," says historian and political analyst Zhang Lifan.

    The run-up to the anniversary has included dozens of symposiums, exhibitions, concerts and television specials.

    Not surprisingly, many are looking to cash in on the date, especially in his home village of Shaoshan in the central province of Hunan. Mao worship is a cornerstone of the local economy, and the town fathers are using $2.5 billion in public funds to renovate museums and historical sites, along with highways, schools and other infrastructure.

    Sites associated with Mao around the country are getting facelifts as part of an effort to promote "red tourism" and bring development to some of China's least developed areas. Excess is also making a showing, including a $16 million gilded statue of the man, blinged-out with precious gems, in the city of Shenzhen, and a special-edition offering of China's most expensive liquor.

    Mao remains a strong symbolic presence, though not nearly as ubiquitous he was during his lifetime. Thousands of Chinese tourists line up daily to view his embalmed body in its Tiananmen Square mausoleum, which has also undergone renovation. His image graces almost all bank notes from 1 to 100 yuan, and Chinese studios crank out a steady flow of new movies and television series based on highly sterilized versions of his life and the party's history.

    Such hagiographies studiously avoid Mao's central part in China's two worst post-war tragedies: the 1959-63 Great Leap Forward and 1966-76 Cultural Revolution. As many as 30 million Chinese died through starvation and persecution.

    Instead, they focus on Mao's role as leader of the communist guerrillas who battled Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists, as founder of the Communist State in 1949, and as a leader who defied both Washington and Moscow to establish China as a new geopolitical center.

    For many younger Chinese, steeped in the sometimes xenophobic nationalism that has replaced communism as the national ethos, Mao's achievement in winning China respect far outweighs his political misdeeds, said Alexander V. Pantsov, co-author of last year's well-received biography, "Mao: The Real Story."

    "Overall, most Chinese will always commemorate Mao as a nationalist hero regardless of his communist tyranny," Pantsov said.

    As China's last truly autocratic leader, Mao also represents a simpler time, and his legacy is invoked both as an emblem of fiery nationalism and to protest current policies seen as favoring the growing wealth gap that has supplanted Mao's impoverished but egalitarian society. Most recently, Mao portraits featured prominently among the crowd during sometimes violent anti-Japanese protests last year.

    "Mao represents the party and the party represents China. That's how a lot of people see it," said Beijing office worker Jenny Zhu, 32, born five years after Mao's death.

    Mao's image was also embraced by supporters of Bo Xilai, who had been among the country's most powerful politicians before he was sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for corruption and abuse of power. Bo had revived Mao-era songs and slogans as part of an anti-crime campaign targeting newly wealthy property developers in the mega-city of Chongqing, even while pursuing market-oriented growth.

    Officially, judgments on Mao's legacy have been closed since successor Deng Xiaoping's pronouncement in 1981 that the former leader's contributions were "70 percent positive, 30 percent negative." Amid a general ambivalence about politics among younger Chinese, ideological debates have been pushed to the margins.

    However, for die-hards such as Fan Jinggang, editor-in-chief of the Maoist website Utopia, Mao remains an untarnished hero nonpareil and Thursday's anniversary is a cause for vast celebration.

    "The people are showing their sincere lofty feelings toward chairman Mao and their striving for fairness and justice and their love for the party and the socialist nation," Fan said.
     
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  3. ninja85

    ninja85 Regular Member

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  4. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    China backs Mao despite ‘mistakes’ - The Times of India

    BEIJING: More than 85% of respondents in a Chinese state media survey said that Mao Zedong's achievements outweigh his mistakes, as the country prepares to mark 120 years since the "Great Helmsman's" birth. Mao's legacy remains mixed in China, where he is revered for the 1949 founding of the People's Republic but authorities have called for restraint in commemorating the anniversary.

    Mao is blamed for the deaths of tens of millions due to famine following his "Great Leap Forward" and the decade of chaos known as the Cultural Revolution. Since his death in 1976, the Communist Party's official line has been he was "70% right and 30% wrong".

    But participants in the survey conducted by the Global Times newspaper, which is close to the ruling party, seemed to hold an even more favourable view of Mao.

    Asked "Do you agree that Mao Zedong's achievements outweigh his mistakes?" 78.3% of respondents in the Global Times survey said they agreed, 6.8% strongly agreed and only 11.7% disagreed. About 3% said they did not know. Nearly 90% of those surveyed said that Mao's "greatest merit" was "founding an independent nation through revolution". China's ruling Communist Party heavily censors accounts of Mao's 27-year-long rule, and there has never been a full historical reckoning of his actions.
     
  5. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    China marks Mao's birthday with controlled tribute - The Times of India

    BEIJING: China's leaders bowed three times before a statue of Mao Zedong on the 120th anniversary of his birth in carefully controlled celebrations that also sought to uphold the market reforms that came after his death.

    The official Xinhua News Agency said Communist Party chief Xi Jinping and other top leaders paid tribute to the founder of the communist state Thursday.

    Xinhua says the leaders visited the Mao mausoleum in the heart of the capital, Beijing, where Mao's embalmed body lies in state.

    The party's flagship People's Daily said in an editorial that the "best commemoration" of Mao would be to keep advancing economic reforms.

    The celebrations avoid Mao's central role in China's worst post-war tragedies: the Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, in which millions died.
     
  6. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    China marks Mao Zedong's birth with noodles and songs - The Times of India

    SHAOSHAN: Admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong celebrated the 120th anniversary of his birth Thursday with noodles and fireworks, as President Xi Jinping carefully marked the occasion by visiting the controversial leader's preserved corpse.

    Mao - the founder of the People's Republic who led the country for 27 years until his death in 1976 - commands reverence among many Chinese but also condemnation by critics who say his disastrous political and economic campaigns led to tens of millions of deaths.

    The ruling Communist Party has sought to balance praising the so-called Great Helmsman - from whom the legitimacy of its leadership derives - while also acknowledging that he made "mistakes".

    At the same time Mao has emerged as a rallying point for those discontented with the stark inequality and widespread corruption that have accompanied China's market-led boom.

    Thousands stood through the night near his childhood home in Shaoshan, in the central province of Hunan, where fireworks streaked the sky above a giant statue of him.

    "Mao was a great leader of the Chinese nation, he was a perfect person and for us young people he is someone to learn from," said Jiang Qi, 33, a construction company employee, as others cried "Long live Chairman Mao".

    At least 100 self-described "Red Internet friends", a group of activists to the left of the current Communist Party leadership, were present, some waving home-made red flags and shouting for "the downfall of American imperialism".

    Several said that police detained pro-Mao activists from different provinces to prevent them attending the anniversary, underscoring the challenge faced by China's leaders.

    "The police have intercepted many, many of us," said a man surnamed Wei, who held a banner with Mao's face and did not wish to give his full name for fear of reprisals.

    "The government is not as upright as Chairman Mao, so they are afraid, they are all corrupt," he added.

    Some of the celebrations had religious overtones, with pilgrims burning fragrant incense, bowing and calling for blessings from the late leader.

    "We are lighting incense to express our thanks to Mao Zedong," said He Peng, a middle aged woman, after kneeling on the ground and reciting a poem in praise of him.

    Much of the 1.94 billion yuan ($320 million) reportedly budgeted by Shaoshan for the anniversary went up in smoke during firework display, which lasted more than four hours, and down the throats of the thousands who lined up for free servings of noodles -- a traditional birthday meal in China.

    "Through eating these noodles we can be happy, they express long life and our love for Chairman Mao, who is great," said a 63-year-old woman surnamed Ding, after tucking into a steaming bowl, adding that Mao "defeated Japanese imperialism".

    But Mao's legacy remains a divisive topic in China, where the Communist Party's official stance is that he was "70 percent right and 30 percent wrong" -- and it has never allowed an open historical reckoning of his actions.

    Political initiatives launched by Mao such as the "Great Leap Forward" and the Cultural Revolution led to more than 40 million deaths through violence and starvation, according to some Chinese and foreign estimates.

    In Beijing, China's top seven-ranked politicians including Xi and Premier Li Keqiang visited the mausoleum where Mao's preserved body lies on public display on Thursday morning, the official Xinhua news agency said.

    They bowed three times and "jointly recalled Comrade Mao's glorious achievements", it added in a brief report.

    The celebrations in Shaoshan, where pilgrims sung Mao-era songs such as "The East Is Red", at times resembled the "Red song" concerts championed by ousted Chinese politician Bo Xilai, who was sentenced to life in prison on corruption charges this year.

    Some of those paying respects to Mao said they remained loyal to Bo, the highest profile politician to be sentenced in decades and whose brash political style is said to have alienated party leaders.

    "All those who love Chairman Mao also love Secretary Bo," one middle-aged man surnamed Shan said, adding: "Mao is our great leader."
     
  7. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    One of the most ruthless despots of the 20th century (oh how I miss that term), almost always at the top 3 of the list with Stalin and Hitler.
     
  8. jon88

    jon88 Regular Member

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    Given the choice between Mao and Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek, I personally think anybody would have chosen Mao. He, unfortunately is the lesser of two evils.
     
  9. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    In what way is he the lesser evil of the two? How is it lesser evil to kill or caused the deaths of 60 million+ of your own people in pursuit of socialist purity? Not even Hitler can match that number.
     
  10. jon88

    jon88 Regular Member

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    In the years when both dictators were still in mainland China, Chiang Kai Shek caused way more people to die than Mao. One of the reason Mao won was because of Chiang's cruelty and his inability to check abuse of power and corruption. Yes, both still kill people after the civil war, but Mao inherited a larger population base than Chiang. Also Chiang inherited the legacy of being the loser in the civil war. Imagine if he won the war. Imagine how he is like if he wins.

    It is also well noted that Chiang's territorial claims are larger than Communist China.

    Mao is a dictator, there is no doubts about that, but if you think Chiang is a nice guy, think again.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  11. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    after so many years people still remember Mao as a "liberator". even his "enemies" or opponents alike havent let go of a chance to attack or praise him. that tells a lot. I draw him a parallel (perhaps inappropriate) to Ataturk of Turkey who also transformed a nation fundmentally. debates over their upsides and downsides (lexicon like tyranny, brutality often seen) are going on however the foundations they laid are irrevocable.

    Sent from my 5910 using Tapatalk 2
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
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  12. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    Well, Mr. Chiang inherited a chaotic China which was in the thick of a nasty civil war between the KMT and the Communist Party. The killings that happened during his time cannot all be ascribed to him. The same cannot be said however during the 50's and 60's when Mao had a steel grip of China and there were no Civil War.
     
  13. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    throughout Chiang's reign of China his Nanking regime had never reached most of China. he physically only controlled provinces in the lower reach of Yangtze. other provinces were in the hands of various warlords, who levied taxes and issued currencies, and fighting one another, though perhps recognizing Nanking gvmt as the "centre" and even joined KMT. pls just check Manchuria (main heavy industrial base), Sichuan, Xinjiang (pro Soviet), Guangdong (ruled by a strongest warlord) for example under different factions.

    the above explained in part why CCP could survive.

    in WW2 Japanese aggressions actually gave Chiang a chance to consolidate China. most warlords had to agree to reform and hand out their armies under a central command to fight Japan. for the first time Chiang clout reached many provinces (like wartime capital Chongqing).

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    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  14. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Whine as much as you want. Without Mao, PRC wouldn't be what it is today. Even 10 Deng Xiaopings couldn't have done anything without the foundation left behind by Mao.
     
  15. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    You can forgive the pacification brutality but the famine and cultural revolution that killed millions of Chinese were unnecessary.
     
  16. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Agree with that statement.
     
  17. jon88

    jon88 Regular Member

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    Nobody will disagree with you on this. Nevertheless, he laid the foundation for the present China.

    A very wise old man once told me that how you view history depends on the livelihood you have today. If you have an irresponsible brutal father who squandered every last penny of the family and died 10 years ago, and the family is still miserable now, then, you would continuously blame the father. However, if the family is living the good live now, your view of him would be very much more forgiving and different. You might even think that his cruel ways was necessary and fundamental in making the present family members strife, strong and resilient.

    There is always two sides to the coin.
     
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  18. asianobserve

    asianobserve Elite Member Elite Member

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    The prosperity of China now is owed to Deng more than Mao. The unification of China was accomplished by 1950, what was needed then was wise policies along centralised system to advance on the economic level. But Mao's flirtation with uthopia ensured that China's progress is set back decades until rational Deng rescued it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2013
  19. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    No.
    Take away Mao and bring in 10 Deng Xiaopings, and PRC would still be a sick nation, and a tinier one than what it is today. AAMOF, there would be no PRC today.
     
  20. jon88

    jon88 Regular Member

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    Exactly... like it or not Mao played a fundamental part in present day PRC
     
  21. mattster

    mattster Respected Member Senior Member

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    I find this survey report to be absolutely amazing.
    The ability of the Chinese to reconcile his evil is simply quite stunning.
    Mao did not just kill a few people - it was millions ?

    And somehow there are always people who admire these psychopaths who commited mass-murder on a scale never seen before in human history.

    Mao. Stalin, Pol Pot, and Hitler are 4 of the world's greatest mass murderers.
     

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