Celebrations for the 120th anniversary of Chairman Mao’s birthday are predicted to be scaled back this year after Xi Jinping told officials that events should be “grand”, but “solemn, simple and pragmatic”.
While members of the party’s elite inner core, the Politburo Standing Committee, are likely to attend a high-profile event in Beijing to mark the anniversary, activities nationwide have been toned down, two sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters.
“The level will be high, but the number of events will be scaled back,” one of the sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity to avoid repercussions for talking to a foreign reporter without permission.
Residents across the country remain divided on how to celebrate the birth of the Communist Party’s founding leader, an anniversary that elicits nostalgia from China’s older generation who recall “simpler times” before the country’s shifting economy resulted in a widening wealth gap.
“Chairman Mao represents a belief in communism, in putting the collective good ahead of yourself, in selfless contribution and values,” a 59-year-old retired Beijing factory worker said to Washington Post reporters. “Look at our society today. . . . Nobody believes in anything anymore but money and personal gain.”
An art exhibition in Shenzhen revealed a 50 kilogram, one-hundred million yuan gold Mao Zedong statue earlier this month constructed in commemoration of the Chairman’s 120th birthday.
Thirty-seven years after his death, over 85 percent of Chinese residents still agree that Mao’s achievements outweigh his mistakes, according to a survey conducted by the Global Times.
Asked “Do you agree that Mao Zedong’s achievements outweigh his mistakes?” 78.3 per cent of respondents in the Global Times survey said they agreed, 6.8 per cent strongly agreed and only 11.7 per cent disagreed. About three per cent said they did not know.
Nearly 90 per cent of those surveyed said that Mao’s “greatest merit” was “founding an independent nation through revolution.
“While the party has acknowledged he made mistakes, there has yet to be an official accounting for the chaos of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution or the millions of deaths from starvation during the 1958-61 Great Leap Forward,” Reuters reports.