Thursday, 26 December 2013

120 Years After Mao's Birth

China commemorates the anniversary of Mao's birth 120 years ago
It's still the last few hours before Christmas ends in North America, but in China they are well into the throes of marking the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong's birth.

He was born in Shaoshan, Hunan province on December 26, 1893. Mao has been credited with kicking out Chiang Kai-shek and imperialist forces, the evils of capitalism and bringing the peasants to the forefront. He is also praised for making the agrarian class more literate and starting to lift them out of poverty.

But not all Mao did was good.

Which is why it's frightening to hear Chinese President Xi Jinping being keen to promote Mao and a return to his ideology, particularly "mass line rectification" where officials are to "promote self-criticism and criticism", and called for the revival of the "ideological purification" campaign.

Mao's legacy has left many issues that have yet to be dealt with
This harks back to the Cultural Revolution where people had to follow Mao's ideas even if they thought they were wrong or risk being vilified, torture, or imprisonment, being murdered by others or driven to suicide.

As a result many particularly in the older generations are scratching their heads and wondering why this retro return to this dark chapter in China's history, a period that hasn't been officially redressed and dealt with on a political, social, economic and psychological scale.

The Cultural Revolution resulted in the complete upheaval of the family and societal system which has led to mainlanders today not having many moral values, greedily taking all they can, or disregarding human life for personal gain.

For those of the Post-80s generation, the Cultural Revolution doesn't mean much if anything at all, so for them Xi's latest campaign is yet another in a line of previous leaders keen to leave some kind of legacy... but why this one?

Xi sees his alignment with Mao as a way to justify the Party's grip on power. He and his peers grew up wearing red scarves around their necks and singing propaganda songs. To distance themselves from the Communist Party would be sacrilegious.

And so Chinese state media publishes headlines such as "Mao Zedong was the great founder, explorer and pioneer of socialism with Chinese characteristics", in which the Great Helmsman used Marxism to build socialism in China.

Xi Jinping upholds Mao as a way to justify the Party's power
Apart from the ideology, Mao's hometown is getting a lot criticism for spending over 15.5 billion yuan on infrastructure and memorial projects. These include high-speed rail stations, highways, cultural performances, exhibitions and encouraging the public to sing "The East is Red" and eat longevity noodles.

The disconnect between Mao's ideology and what he actually achieved and is remembered for shows the country is still having trouble coming to terms with who the first leader of the People's Republic of China was.

With the government's even stronger grip on the media, this further delays the Chinese people's ability to come to terms with who the man really was and what his true contributions to the country were, which will result in more moral and societal problems to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment