He enjoys generous helpings of red braised pork, collects Chinese fans and keeps an unapologetically patriotic blog. Now Mao Xinyu, the 39-year-old grandson and only surviving male heir of Mao Zedong, has become the youngest major-general in the People’s Liberation Army, according to the state media.
Although his elevation has not been officially announced by the military, the news was reported Thursday by the Changjiang Daily and has been among the top news items on Chinese Web portals as the nation prepares to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the revolution that brought Mao and the Communists to power.
A historian trained at the Central Party School and a steadfast guardian of Mao Zedong political thought, the younger Mao is one of the Great Helmsman’s four grandchildren. Although the official media affords him considerable respect, he is the object of some derision among ordinary Chinese, who lampoon what they call his mediocre performance as a student, his unkempt ways and his prodigious girth; in recent years, his weight has exceeded 200 pounds.
One of this week’s most popular articles at Southern Weekend is an interview report on Mao Xinyu, entitled “Grandfather Had the Greatest Influence on My Life.” The following is the article’s opening, translated by CDT:
Thirty nine-year-old Mao Xinyu is the son of Mao Anqing and Shao Hua, and is Mao Zedong’s only grandson. He is currently the assistant head of the Academy of Military Science’s War Theory and Strategic Studies division. His People.com blog was judged as one of 2008’s top ten most paid attention to blogs. His winning phrase is “Mao Zedong’s grandson by his first wife, the country’s CPPCC representative, supports using blogs to spread Mao Zedong thought, and has received the approval of netizens.”
At the age of 5, he had already begun memorizing Mao Zedong’s poems. His son, Mao Dongdong, at the age of 3 was taught to sing “The East is Red” by his grandmother Shao Hua. Mao Xinyu said, “He’s smarter than me; at that time, he could already memorize three of my grandfather’s poems.”
In the evening of September 7, Mao Xinyu and I met at Fragrant Hills’ Jianxin Zhai. He carried a fan with him; there were two more in his car. Collecting fans is one of his hobbies; his goal is to collect between 10000 to 20000 fans.
Aside from this hobby, he said that he also enjoys hiking, swimming, reading. “These are the same as my grandfather. Of course, there’s one more that’s even more important, and that’s eating red braised pork!”
He spoke candidly and frankly, and opened up about “embarrassing incidents” of his youth without adding restrictions. His praise for his grandfather’s authoritative works was definite. As we walked down the hill, the sky was dark. A tourist who didn’t recognize Mao came up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked him where the main gate was. He pointed with his fan, “Straight ahead! Won’t be long till you’re there.”
The following are the top “hot responses” to the story (热门评论). Most criticize Southern Weekend for its story selection that seemed more “akin to a Party newspaper” than its normal reporting. Also translated by CDT:
The one-child policy didn’t restrict great individuals’ later generations all along. His son, Mao Dongdong, was born 12/26/2003, the same day as Mao Zedong. His daughter, Mao Tianyi, was born 8/28/2008.
Southern Weekend makes people disappointed
It’s been said that I say a lot of sensitive words. I feel like I’ve returned to old society, shit.
No wonder he’s so fat; it’s because he eats red-braised pork.
Southern Weekend! I despise you! Straighten your spine, all right?!
Military affairs expert, Marxist thought scholar, calligrapher General Mao Xinyu
Everyone should understand how this happened [presumably, Mao Xinyu’s background]
How is it that the more I live, the further back I go? Should I promptly go and bring out the imperial chair, sit atop it and receive worship?
I’m disappointed at Southern Weekend. At first, this topic [seemed] to be worthy of discussion, but the article is written in such a way [that it] resembles a Party newspaper.
Starting from this week, I’m not going to buy Southern Weekend anymore; this article made me want to puke. The best pick of a lame bunch; I overestimated Southern Weekend’s professional integrity.
Danwei has a translated interview of Mao Xinyu from a March 2008 issue of Xinkuaibao, as well as translated coverage of his slated deanship of the Mao Zedong school of thought at Songtian College.
Update: Some pictures of Mao Xinyu and his calligraphy, from Hexun.com: