Ultra-leftist elements in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), claiming absolute loyalty to the late leader Mao Zedong and firmly against the regime’s reformist course both at home and abroad, may have become an insignificant factor in the country’s politics now, but what is intriguing is that the present Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership has more or less chosen to tolerate their dissent. The present Government has so far shown no intentions to impose a ban on the activities of such elements in contrast to the crackdown being carried out in the case of pro-democracy groups within the country.
The only possible explanation to the above could be the CCP’s realization of the importance of Mao’s name, irrespective of the times, to its legitimacy as a ruling party and its feeling in that context that any action against die-hard Mao followers, apparently enjoying the indirect backing of some veteran, but still influential, cadres, could turn out to be counter-productive. Party Chief Hu Jintao himself has come out with a strong defence of Mao, unprecedented since the 1981 official verdict on the late Chairman in a key Party document. “Mao is a matter of pride for the CCP, the Chinese people and the entire Chinese race. Whatever the time and whatever the circumstances, we must always hold up the great banner of Mao Zedong thought”, said Hu at the 110th birth anniversary of the leader (Beijing, December 26, 2003).