Mao Xinyu, the only grandson of the Great Helmsman, who has built both a military and an academic career almost entirely on his grandfather’s legacy, now thinks the cult of Mao should be reassessed.
“Many people have been put on an altar, including my grandfather,” Major General Mao told the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing.
“But now, only by transforming them back into real people can they be understood and accepted by the public, who will then want to learn from them,” he said.
The younger Mao is a lecturer of Maoist studies at Guangzhou university. “[Mao Zedong] thought is not outdated,” he said. Mao called for greater “democratic supervision” of party and government leaders.
The cult of Mao was cultivated by the late leader during the Cultural Revolution, when commitment to revolutionary socialism was largely transplanted by commitment to Chairman Mao. China’s leaders have long struggled with how to deal with Mao’s legacy. Since the 1970s and reform and opening, Mao Zedong thought has been sidelined, though his image has remained front and centre. The infamous and potentially apocryphal verdict that Mao was 70 percent good, 30 percent bad has long been as far as the Communist Party would go in criticising a man responsible for the deaths of over 30 million people.