Mao (Still?) Tears China Apart

The Diplomat writes about the recent essay by Mao Yushi on Mao Zedong and explores his legacy, 35 years after his death:

Mao Yushi, an 82-year-old economist, penned a blog entry that was strongly critical of Mao, suggesting he should be held responsible for the deaths of 50 million Chinese citizens during the 1960s. The economist also noted his reputation as a womanizer who made decisions for his own benefit, rather than for the greater good of China’s development.

Unsurprisingly, the entry captured the attention of the media, academics, senior government officials and ordinary citizens. But when I tried to access the original entry, I found it had already been removed (although it can still be found on the Internet, having been copied and posted elsewhere before the authorities could delete the original).

Mao Yushi already isn’t well-liked by the Chinese authorities. This is partly because he has participated in a number of political activities that have upset the government, including signing a petition in support of detained activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. Sources have told me that Mao’s phones are tapped, including the one he uses for media interviews. His family, meanwhile, say they have been receiving death threats.

There’s clearly no chance the authorities will allow Mao Yushi’s article to be published. First and foremost, such criticism of Mao Zedong is tantamount to dismissing the Chinese Communist Party itself, and the historical foundation on which it survives. A second reason it won’t be published is that the government fears that openly tackling such a sensitive subject risks prompting a chain reaction of events that could spark instability.

China Media Project translated and provided background on Mao Yushi’s essay.