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Forget Jesus. Mao Zedong is the man whose birthday the Chinese are marking with great reverence

TOMORROW is the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, and to mark the occasion a £120-million gold statue will be officially dedicated in Shaoshan, the village in which he was born.

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According to this report, officially, the celebrations are supposed to be simple and low-key; the Communist party is trying to shed a reputation for ostentatious spectacles and reconnect with its roots as a workers’ movement.

Said one employee at a tourist concession:

Xi Jinping [the President] himself told the leaders here in Shaoshan there should be no gala, no singing, no dancing and no big events.

But the villagers, and the busloads of Maoists flocking to Shaoshan, many of them accessorising their designer clothes and iPhones with green revolutionary army caps, are finding it difficult to contain their enthusiasm.

Lang Lang, the celebrated pianist, has already played a concert in the middle of the village’s Mao Zedong Square, and a train of 120 camels, like modern-day Magi, trekked a thousand miles from the deserts of Inner Mongolia to the village as a publicity stunt.

The gold statue arrived to take pride of place in a grand memorial hall. Cast in solid gold, and sitting on a metre-tall jade plinth, the statue has awed some visitors to drop to their knees before it in reverence.

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The managers of the hall thoughtfully placed three cushions on the floor, embroidered with lotus flowers.

The £120 million, though, is small change compared to the overall cost of marking Mao’s birthday: £1.55 BILLION, a sum that caused outrage among many Chinese when it was announced back in October that the dosh would be spent on 16 schemes linked to the anniversary. These would include renovating a tourist centre and preserving Mao’s former residence.

The cult of Mao continues to resonate strongly in China. His three decades in power have never been open to critical assessment because the Communist party still depends on Mao for its legitimacy.

Indeed, the current government has cloaked itself even more heavily in Maoist rhetoric even as it continues to liberalise the economy.

As a result, many of the pilgrims to Shaoshan still regard Mao with enormous devotion.

Said Chen Min, a 23-year-old nurse who works at a hospital in Changsha, the nearest major city:

Mao is a god in the East. My grandmother was here in Shaoshan for the 100th anniversary, when they installed the giant bronze statue in the main square. It was winter, but she said the flowers along the road bloomed as the statue was driven by.

Even those old enough to remember the bad old days find it perfectly possible to continue to worship Mao, whose policies led directly to the death of tens of millions of Chinese.

In this respect, Mao bears similarities to Jesus, who began a cult that led directly to the deaths of millions all over the world.

14 Responses to “Forget Jesus. Mao Zedong is the man whose birthday the Chinese are marking with great reverence”

  1. charlie says:

    At least Mao is/was an actual, documented person, unlike the mythical figure of Jesus.
    Still it does seem to be a rather over large sum to celebrate the birthday of old Mao.

  2. Matt+Westwood says:

    Kind of puts into perspective the disgusting quantities of money Cummyrunt is threatening to spend on a museum to Thatcher the Snatcher.

  3. Robster says:

    So that proves god is in fact a rather large Chinese man and not that pasty bloke with a beard wafting around the sky as his self appointed representatives here on the mortal coil would have us believe for a small ongoing fee. It also proves that everything now comes from China. I wonder if there’s a choice of colours?

  4. Great+Satan says:

    Just further evidence that Communists believe in God/personality cults despite their supposed atheism.

  5. Broga says:

    We had an atheist on Radio4 at 6.50am this morning. Early enough, I suppose, to avoid traumatising most of the people of faith. The “atheist” was a minister of religion but he did declare himself an atheist although he referred to Jesus and listed a number of religions from which we could imbibe good lessons.

    It was anodyne but an indication that the atheist contribution creeps ever closer. The BBC religious top cats managed, no doubt after much anxious discussion, to allow the word atheist to be used.

    At the end of his comments he was asked a question. After this one of the interviewers made the interesting comment “we are not allowed to ask questions after Thought for the Day.” That “allowed” confirms the fear of the religious honchos to the exposure of their usual bores. We also had the explanation that “atheists are not allowed on TfTD because it is a religious programme.”

    The effort this morning was little different to what we are used to on TfTD. For me it was more an irritant than anything: a pointless sop.

  6. ZombieHunter says:

    Chairman Mao, cos genocide is ok if it’s left wing

    ps hope everyone had an awesome xmas, I’m now the proud owner of a PS4 :D

  7. barriejohn says:

    Don’t forget: Chairman Mao is dead, but JESUS IS ALIVE!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/christianity/history/jesus_1.shtml

    All the lines converge back on the fact that there must’ve been an empty tomb… and that there must’ve been sightings of some sort of being, a figure, a person who they knew to be Jesus, and who they knew to be not a ghost. They knew all about ghosts and visions and so on – that, that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. People had that sort of experience. This was different – this was bodily, but it was a transformed body. It wasn’t a resuscitation – they believed Jesus had gone through death and out the other side, into a new physical body, which was now equally physical – only if anything more so rather than less so. He wasn’t a ghost, He was alive, and the only way I can make sense of that as a historian is by saying that it actually happened.

    Thank God for the impartial BBC.

    PS Last night, ITV News led on the flooding, etc. Guess what the BBC main stories were? The Queen’s Speech and genuflecting peasants at Sandringham. Say no more!

  8. barriejohn says:

    PPS And those uplifting speeches by Frankie, Welby, Sentamu, et al. Apparently, we must all do more to help the poor!

  9. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Those uplifting speeches. How do they get away with it? They are so vacuous with their bogus sincerity as, from their luxurious niche, they express concern for the poor.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Frankie lodges in a B&B. Such humility.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2529268/Why-believe-Francis-greatest-Pope-ever.html

    Yeeeuuuuuuuuurgh!!!!

  11. Major Nav says:

    One gold statue does not a god make.
    In all of Beijing, the only statue remaining of Mao is in front of the party’s HQs. (Ironically, it’s right across the freeway from one of the four Walmarts in Beijing)
    Yes, there is the “Maosuleum”, but most of the millions of visitors are from rural China. No one in the big, largely capitalist, cities pay their respects anymore.

  12. barriejohn says:

    The Japanese PM is in (calculated) trouble now:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-25518166

  13. Brian Jordan says:

    I wonder how these people would be regarded in a couple of thousand years time, if their lives weren’t actually documented while they were alive?
    Mao – already cast in gold
    Mandela – descendents already squabbling a la Mo
    Maggie – adored by some, despised and rejected by others.
    Quite a potential Trinity and all beginning with “M”
    What a mega-religion that could make!