Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Mao's Loyal Army

Fans of the Great Helmsman make sure critics are silenced
It used to be that criticizing Mao Zedong would result in disaster for one's entire family, so the younger generation is shocked to find that criticizing him can still ruin careers.

Television producer Liu Yong was fired after he defended a critic of Mao online around December 26, the great leader's birthday.

Liu, a producer at Luohe Television in Henan province, was suspended for "wrongful speech that violates political discipline and morals", his employer posted on social media.

The statement didn't exactly explain what triggered the sacking, but Liu apologized on social media on Monday for "having hurt the feelings of the public".

A massive gold statue of Mao in Kaifeng, Henan province
Oh that wonderful phrase of "hurting the public's feelings" has been trotted out yet again.

Previously Liu had posted criticism of the Party and government, and on Sunday posted support for a professor who was forced to retire after criticizing Mao publicly on the eve of the late leader's birthday.

Deng Xiangchao, a communications professor at Shandong Jianzhu University, reposted a joke about Mao on December 25. Without naming Mao, Deng's post compared the late leader to an imperial ruler.

"Being an imperial ruler in China takes skill," the post read. "You should call hereditary rulers revolutionary comrades, and change the emperor's edict into a supreme instruction. But don't be honest about it."

The post angered Mao supporters, who held protests at the university last week. They held banners and yelled slogans such as "down with traitors".

Although some academics supported Deng on the grounds of freedom of expression, the professor, who was one year shy of retirement age, was forced to retire and stop teaching only a day after the protest, when the university accused him of posting "wrongful speech".

And now Liu is also a victim of this purge.

Let this be a fair warning to all!

The incident demonstrates that the country and its people still have very strong feelings about Mao. His followers are disappointed that rampant corruption and the widening wealth gaps were caused by market reforms and the intrusion of Western values.

But there are those who see Mao as a merciless and Machiavellian dictator who was indifferent to the loss of innocent lives, and who uprooted traditional culture and purged intellectuals and his colleagues.

And a posting on social media is enough to get you sacked!

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