Mao’s Birthday: Party Time

In Hunan, the birthplace of Mao Zedong, preparations for the celebration of Mao’s 120th birthday are in full swing. From Choi Chi-yuk at South China Morning Post:

Mainland reports suggested that Xiangtan , the city overseeing Shaoshan, planned to spend more than 6 billion yuan (HK$7.5 billion) on organising ceremonial shows, the renovation of Mao’s memorial hall, and construction of related projects.

Beijing-based independent political analyst Chen Zimin said that, judging from Xu’s remarks, the party’s Central Committee was going to hold a high-level and far-reaching ceremony to mark Mao’s birthday, which he said would signify a dramatic turn to the left in terms of politics and ideology.

[…] Professor Yuan Weishi , a historian at the Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, said there was little doubt the central government would celebrate the anniversary of Mao’s birth in a high-profile manner, and Yuan said he believed that President Xi Jinping might even give a keynote speech. [Source]

Meanwhile, J.M. at The Economist sees dealing with Mao’s history as a dilemma for China’s new leadership:

[…I]n the coming months Mr Xi might be wary of overdoing the adulation. In the autumn he will preside over a crucial meeting of the party’s central committee that he apparently hopes will approve plans for wide-ranging economic reforms. Encouraging Maoists could play into the hands of what liberals in China call “interest groups”, such as large state-owned enterprises, that stand in the way of reform.

Fuelling Maoist fervour could also make it more difficult to handle the case of Bo Xilai, a Politburo member who was expelled from the party in November for alleged abuses of power, including complicity in the murder of a British businessman. Mr Bo is a darling of die-hard Maoists who believe that, for all the party’s lip-service to Mao, the country has fallen prey to the worst excesses of capitalism. He is widely expected to be put on trial in the coming months. Mr Xi does not want to encourage supporters of Mr Bo.

[…] In his final months as China’s leader before Mr Xi took over, Hu Jintao tried to silence these die-hards, whose online criticisms of the leadership—and support for Mr Bo—had become an embarrassment. Censors blocked several of their websites (as Analects reported in April last year). But the Maoists have proved resilient. Utopia, one of their favourite websites, remains closed. But it offers links to new sites where somewhat toned-down material can be read. [Source]

See also Mao’s Faithful May Be Pulling Xi Leftward, via CDT.


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