News / Asia

China Observes Mao's Birthday With Mixed Feelings

  • 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

South Korea Divided on Response to North’s Cyber Attack

In past five years, officials in Seoul have accused Pyongyang of hacking into banks, government websites, causing chaos and inflicting millions of dollars in damages More

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Bentiu

Residents have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy, but planning for the future remains uncertain as fear of attacks looms More

2015 Could Be Watershed for Syria Conflict

Republican control of US Senate in January could lead to more aggressive policy against IS militants in Syria - and against regime of Bashar al-Assad 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.
Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil Wari
X
Adam Bailes
December 22, 2014 3:45 PM
In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Ugandan Doctors Aid Victims of Sudan's Civil War

In Sudan's state of South Kordofan, the number of amputees as result of civil war is in the thousands, but few have access to sufficient medical help. Adam Bailes recently visited the area and says a small team of Ugandan doctors has been providing remote help, producing new prosthetic limbs for those in need.
Video

Video Jane Monheit Christmas Special

Chanteuse Jane Monheit sings the holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” and explains why it’s her favorite song of the season.
Video

Video Calm Amid Fear in Daily Life in S. Sudan’s Town of Bentiu

Six months ago, Bentiu was a ghost town. The capital of northern Unity State, near South Sudan’s important oil fields, had changed hands several times in fighting between government forces and rebels. Calm returned in November and since then, residents of Bentiu have been trying to regain some sense of normalcy. Bentiu’s market has reopened there are plans to start school again. But fears of new attacks hang heavy, as Benno Muchler reports from Bentiu.
Video

Video US Business Groups Press for Greater Access to Cuba

President Barack Obama's decision to do all he can to ease restrictions on U.S. trade, travel and financial activities with Cuba has drawn criticism from some conservatives and Republicans. People who bring tourists to the island and farmers who want to sell more food to Cuba, however, think they can do a lot more business with Cuba. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.

All About America

AppleAndroid