News / Asia

China Observes Mao's Birthday With Mixed Feelings

PHOTOS: China Observes Mao's Birthday

x
  • People stand in line to enter the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong in Beijing, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • A man holds up a portrait of Mao Zedong as he and others gather in front of a giant statue of Mao to celebrate the 120th birth anniversary of the former leader in his hometown, Shaoshan, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Retired female workers dressed as red army soldiers sing revolutionary songs during a performance to mark the 120th birth anniversary of Mao Zedong in Huaibei, Anhui province, China, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Boats carrying a giant image of Mao Zedong and Chinese national flags lead winter swimmers in the Yangtze River to celebrate the 120th birth anniversary of Mao in Wuhan, Hubei province, Dec. 26, 2013.
  • Supporters wave a flag with an image of Mao Zedong that says "People missing Chairman Mao", as people gather to celebrate the 120th birth anniversary of the former leader in his hometown, Shaoshan, Dec. 25, 2013.

PHOTOS: China Observes Mao's Birthday

VOA News
China on Thursday observes the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, who enjoys a mixed legacy in the country whose government he founded and led for nearly three decades.

Since his death in 1976, the official government position has been to recognize Mao's contributions as 70 percent positive and 30 percent negative.

A poll by the state-run Global Times suggests Chinese view him even more positively than that, with 85 percent of respondents saying Mao's merits outweigh his mistakes.

Mao's supporters, many of whom tend to be older and remember his rule, say he helped free China from foreign influence, pulling it out of chaos to create a unified country.

But others blame him for the deaths of tens of millions as a result of controversial social experiments such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.

William Sharp, a professor of East Asia Studies at the Hawaii-Pacific University, tells VOA Mao's legacy remains unexamined, partly because of the government's control over the debate.

"His rule had moments that were greatly tumultuous," he said. "The Great Leap Forward in the mid 1950s saw the death of about 30 million people. And this is still a topic that's taboo for public discussion in China."

Even still, those critical of Mao's legacy seem to be increasing. The Global Times poll suggested the younger and more educated are less likely to revere the revolutionary leader.

Confronting the socialist elements of Mao's legacy is also complicated for Chinese leaders, who have undertaken a series of market reforms since his death.

To deal with this contradiction, Beijing has referred to China's hybrid form of economy, as not just socialist, but "socialist with Chinese characteristics."

The reforms have brought great wealth to China, but they have also come with a rise in corruption and waste that has prompted a fierce public backlash.

Reflecting these sensitivities, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for solemn, simple and pragmatic celebrations to mark Mao's birthday.

Gordon Houlden of the University of Alberta's China Institute says this is consistent with Xi's crackdown on corruption within Communist Party ranks.

"On the other hand, there's a nervousness about too much adulation of Mao, partly because he stood for a very different sort of China than one finds now in 2013," he said. "So I think for that reason, it's in the political interests for the current president to not let society or fans of Mao get carried away and emphasize a different sort of China than he had in mind."

But Houlden says China's growing global stature means Mao will remain a key figure of the 20th century, as well as a longstanding figure of importance within China.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: China
December 25, 2013 8:23 PM
I think Mao Zhedong is not only a vicious dictator, who made a lot of mistakes, caused lots of people died, but also a mistake of the history, he planted the corrupt communism into China by cheating and voilence


by: Taiji Robinhood
December 25, 2013 6:49 PM
No one can deny that Mao was a great politician, military strategist, poet, ..... The more you know about him, the deeper you will love him.

In Response

by: Chang from: USA
December 26, 2013 1:45 AM
How can you love someone that killed a lot of innocent people? A man with all power tend to be corrupted. Mao is like one of the Chinese kings. In this case may be a very bad king.


by: Anonymous
December 25, 2013 1:48 PM
Although Mr. Mao had made many mistakes in his time, he still is the most great leader of China because he took a substantial of benefit to his country and the people no matter how other country's people and oppositions blame him. He should be a spirit leader of the country.

In Response

by: Wu from: China
December 26, 2013 1:52 AM
Put up a poll and see how the Chinese people say ...
A good leader is the one that has the gut to admit the mistake he made and make correction.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid