By Tom Bannister
On 26th December, celebrations took place to mark what would have been Mao Zedong’s 119th birthday. In his birthplace, Shaoshan in Hunan, people gathered spontaneously at midnight to pay their respects at the base of the huge bronze statue of the ‘Great Helmsman’ situated there.
In the morning, at his Beijing Tiananmen mausoleum, Mao’s grandson Mao Xinyu (large man in military uniform) and his wife and two children laid flowers at the memorial to their famous relative. Xinyu is the son of Mao Anqing who was Mao Zedong’s child with his second wife (of four), Yang Kaihui.
Mao’s granddaughter Kong Dongmei (woman with the pink scarf) also attended, along with several other more distant relatives. Dongmei is the daughter of Li Min, Mao’s child with his third wife He Zizhen.
Back in Shaoshan thousands of people gathered to eat traditional ‘happiness and longevity noodles’ and gather in ‘Mao Zedong Square’ to sing communist songs such as ‘The East is Red‘.