Xi: Holding high the banner of Mao “forever”

 

A symposium commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of the late Chinese leader

Mao Zedong is held in Beijing on December 26, 2013.   Photo by Rao Aimin

 

 

 

 

Xi: Holding high

the banner of Mao “forever”

 

 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivers a speech during

a symposium commemorating the 120th anniversary

of the birth of the late Chinese leader Mao Zedong

in Beijing on December 26, 2013.   Photo by Ju Peng

 

 

By Guo Likun, Tian Ye, Meng Na and Ren Ke

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday of December 26 that the Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought “forever” in pursuing the Chinese nation’s rejuvenation.

While commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of the late Chinese leader, Xi hailed Mao and other members of the older generation of revolutionaries as “great figures” in fighting national and class oppression, as well as standing at the wavefront of the positive tide in the Chinese nation and world.

At a symposium held by the CPC Central Committee in Beijing, Xi said Mao, the principal founder of the CPC, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), was “a great proletarian revolutionary, strategist and theorist.”

Xi also hailed Mao as “a great patriot and national hero” and the core of the first generation of the Chinese leadership.

“Mao is a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny,” said Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission.

He pointed out that a correct historical view must be adopted to appraise a historical figure.

“Revolutionary leaders are not gods, but human beings,” Xi said.

“(We) cannot worship them like gods or refuse to allow people to point out and correct their errors just because they are great; neither can we totally repudiate them and erase their historical feats just because they made mistakes,” Xi said.

“(We) should not simply attribute the success in historical favorable circumstances to individuals, nor should we blame individuals for setbacks in adverse situation,” he said.

“(We) cannot use today’s conditions and level of development and understanding to judge our predecessors, nor can we expect the predecessors to have done things that only the successors can do,” he said.

Mao’s greatest contributions are that he led the Party and the people to find the correct path of New-Democratic Revolution, completed the anti-imperialism and anti-feudalism tasks, established the PRC and the basic socialism system, achieved fundamental success in socialist construction, and pooled experiences and created conditions for China’s exploration of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, according to Xi.

“The banner of Mao Zedong Thought could not be lost and losing it means a negation to the Party’s glorious history; The principle of holding high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought should not be wavered at any time and we will hold high the banner to advance forever,” the president quoted late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping as saying.

However, Xi said it cannot be negated that Mao took detours during the exploration of the path of building socialism, admitting he made “serious mistakes” in his later years, especially during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

“Comrade Mao Zedong’s mistakes in his later years have their subjective factors and personal responsibility, and complicated social and historical reasons both at home and abroad also played their part. They should be viewed and analyzed comprehensively, historically and dialectically,” Xi said.

Xi said it was not easy to find a correct path. “The path decides the nation’s destiny,” he said.

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics does not just fall from the sky,” Xi said, adding that it was achieved through the toil and sacrifice of the Party and the people.

Without the pros and cons of historical experience learned from practical exploration before reform and opening up, processes would not have proceeded so smoothly, Xi continued.

Under the new conditions, Party members should adhere to and make good use of the “living soul” of Mao Zedong Thought, namely seeking truth from facts, the “mass line” and independence, Xi said.

The CPC in June initiated a one-year campaign to strengthen the “mass line,” a guideline under which the CPC is required to prioritize the interests of the people.

When interpreting the doctrine of “seeking truth from facts,” Xi called on Party officials to soberly realize and correctly grasp the fact that China remains in the primary stage of socialism and will long remain so, uphold truth and correct errors for the interests of the people, and advance theoretical innovation based on practice.

The “mass line” is the lifeline and fundamental work principle of the Party, Xi added.

To implement the “mass line,” Xi said it is important to adhere to the fact that people are the fundamental force to decide the Party’s future and fate and called on Party members to serve the people wholeheartedly.

Xi asked officials to cherish the power entrusted by the people and subject power to the people’s supervision.

The president underlined the importance of maintaining the “flesh and blood ties” between the Party and the people. Xi pledged to “make the greatest effort” to address problems of the Party, especially those that arouse people’s complaints.

The people will be the “supreme arbiter” and “final judge” to assess the Party’s work, he said.

The country will rely on its own strength for state and national development, maintain national pride and national self-confidence, and unswervingly walk a path of its own, he said.

The Chinese people will make the decision and handle affairs of the country. China will unswervingly step along the path of a socialism with Chinese characteristics and firmly follow the path of peaceful development and adhere to the independent foreign policy of peace, Xi said.

Since modern times, the Chinese nation has always been dreaming of realizing “great rejuvenation.” Our predecessors made great efforts for making the dream come true. Today, based on their achievements, China’s reform and opening-up drive and modernization have scored significant marks.

“China has never been so close to realizing the goal of the nation’s great renewal,” Xi said.

“To realize the great rejuvenation of Chinese nation, we must unswervingly advance reform and opening-up,” he said, stressing that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee launched wide-ranging reforms.

The CPC plays a key role in realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, Xi said, adding that the Party should administrate the Party, enhance its ruling capacity and strengthen the Party’s capabilities, such as self-purification and self-improvement.

Xi vowed to “seriously treat ‘illnesses’ which harm the nature and purity of the Party and rip out any ‘malignant tumors’ on the healthy bodies of the CPC.”

Persistent effort will enable the CPC to always be at the core of leadership for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi stressed.

Thursday’s symposium at the Great Hall of the People was presided over by Liu Yunshan and attended by other leaders including Li Keqiang, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.

Before the symposium, the seven top leaders visited Mao’s mausoleum in Tian’anmen Square, making three bows toward Mao’s seated statue and paying their respects to the remains of Mao.

Mao was born on December 26, 1893 and died on September 9, 1976.

Across China, people held various activities on Thursday to mark the anniversary of Mao’s birth.

At Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan Village in central Hunan Province, locals were joined by visitors for commemorative events. They ate noodles, sang “red songs” and presented flower baskets to Mao’s bronze statue.

Symposiums were held on Wednesday in old revolutionary bases including Xibaipo in north China’s Hebei Province, Yan’an City in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province and Nanchang City in east China’s Jiangxi Province.

Other events that marked Mao’s birth anniversary include evening galas, art exhibits, and the release of books depicting the life and career of Mao.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Visitors take photos of the statue of the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong, commemorating

the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao, in Changsha, central China’s Hunan Province,

on December 26, 2013.   Photo by Li Ga

 

People wait to visit the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s mausoleum at Tian’anmen Square,

commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao in Beijing on December 26, 2013.

Photo by Luo Xiaoguang

 

Visitors look at calligraphy works of the former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at the National

Museum of China, commemorating the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao in Beijing

on December 26, 2013.   Photo by Jin Liwang

 

 

 

 

Worship, warmth

in Mao’s birth

and resting places

 

By Hu Tao, Chen Wenguang and Cao Bin

 

 

A visitor takes photo in front of a bronze statue of Mao Zedong

in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, on December 24, 2013.  

Photo by Li Ga

 

A plain open banquet of longevity noodles and small spicy fish warmed admirers in Mao’s home village on the 120th anniversary of his birth on Thursday of December 26.

Visitors lingered over Mao’s favorite spicy dishes over the sound of “red songs” and firecrackers, a local birthday tradition in Shaoshan Village in central China’s Hunan Province.

“There’s food for free and I felt a warmth here with a family embrace in Mao’s hometown. Shaoshan touches our generation in its special way,” said Fan Huiling, a 49-year-old woman who has been anticipating a trip to Shaoshan for a long time.

On the eve of her retirement, Fan finally set foot in the small village to realize her lifelong dream of a “personal visit to the birthplace of the great man.”

Fan didn’t have much time to linger on the taste as visitors kept on coming, and she could “wait no longer to see the former residence of Mao.”

Early on Thursday, people and cars from nearly all provinces and regions of the country swarmed into the small village.

They waved the red national flag and sang songs about Mao such as the “The East is Red” while visiting Mao’s former residence and the land that he used to farm.

Mao was born in the village on December 26, 1893. Sites associated with the founder of the People’s Republic of China have been worshiped by people at home and abroad.

After Mao died on September 9, 1976, his countrymen at Shaoshan gathered together to prepare and eat longevity noodles on his birthday to memorialize the great man.

“The small spicy fish is a ‘must,’ as it was Chairman Mao’s favorite ‘taste of home,’” said a villager in Shaoshan who was busy serving the swarming visitors.

In 2003, Shanshao Village started to provide free longevity noodles to visitors on the grounds in front of the village committee building.

“Chairman Mao is indeed a great man and his great contributions deserve remembrance by our young generation,” said Ren Bin, a 22-year-old college student from Xiangtan City, which is under the jurisdiction of Shanshan.

It was Ren’s eighth trip to the village as his parents were also worshipers of Mao and collected many of Mao’s poetry anthologies and badges.

“Mao was an all-around talent. He composed poems and commanded military operations. He was a philosopher as well as the founder of a nation,” he said.

As a renowned destination for “red tourism,” Shaoshan has received about 8 million visitors annually. Several tens of thousands of admirers chose to pay tribute in Mao’s birthplace on his birthday, while a range of activities in memory of the influential figure were held around the country.

Thousands of miles away from Shaoshan, people queued up in front of Mao’s mausoleum in Tian’anmen Square on the freezing winter day in Beijing.

The mausoleum opened in 1977. On Thursday, a ceremony was held to commemorate the 120th anniversary of his birth.

A military officer surnamed Su has visited Mao’s mausoleum every year on Mao’s birthday. This time, he stood for a long time in front of a copy of Mao’s written call to Taiwan compatriots.

“Mao opposed foreign interference in China’s internal affairs in this document,” said Su, adding that he always draws new inspiration during each visit.

Steps away at Tian’anmen Square, Yang Lina, born eight years after Mao passed away, paid her first tribute to Chairman Mao in the mausoleum.

“I felt like crying in there,” said the girl, who did not even know it was Mao’s birthday.

 

 

 

 

PHOTO REPORT   dated on July 19, 2013

 

Tourists visit the Former Residence of Chairman Mao Zedong located in Shaoshan Township

of Xiangtan City, central China’s Hunan Province, on July 19, 2013.   Photos by He Changjun

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post-Mao China

continues seeking revival

 

By Gui Tao, Li Huaiyan, Zhang Zhanpeng and Li Baojie

 

A large portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong hangs high in the living room of Ai Pa. The 56-year-old, an ethnic Dai villager in Xishuangbanna in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, likes citing quotations from the founder of new China.

In tales the elderly told during his childhood, Chairman Mao was depicted as an invincible “monkey king,” whom heaven bestowed with powers to bring equality and justice to the world.

“It’s Chairman Mao who brought the concept ‘all men are created equal’ to the Dai villages,” said Ai, now a village Communist Party chief who still reveres Mao.

For villagers who visit Beijing for the first time, Mao’s mausoleum in Tian’anmen Square is a must-see place, Ai said.

The ethnic villagers are not alone in their reverence. Official data show that over 200 million people have paid tribute at Mao’s mausoleum since it opened one year after Mao’s death in 1976.

Thursday marks the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth. Chinese top leaders including President Xi Jinping visited Mao’s mausoleum, making three bows toward Mao’s seated statue and paying their respects to the remains of Mao.

At a symposium held by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in Beijing on Thursday, Xi said the CPC will hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought “forever” in pursuing the Chinese nation’s rejuvenation.

The state-run People’s Daily and Xinhua both carried articles commemorating the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth on Thursday. Many places nationwide, including Mao’s birthplace and several old revolutionary bases, held activities to remember the late leader.

 

HISTORICAL CHANGES

 

In Shaoshan, Hunan province, the birthplace of Mao, local farmers have taken advantage of the admiration for Mao to make a living.

The locals sell Mao-themed souvenirs, including badges and bronze sculptures, and run family hotels and restaurants that host millions of visitors each year.

During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), private businesses were targets of crackdowns and restrictions. Even in the early 1980s, it wasn’t easy to start a private business, said Mao Yu, the Communist Party chief in the village of Shaoshan.

At that time, people still widely believed that running a private business was equal to defaming Chairman Mao, and an old villager even cried two days before the statue of Mao in response to the reappearance of small private businesses, Mao Yu said.

Decades of reform and opening up have fundamentally transformed the thinking of Mao’s fellow villagers, and they are now operating Mao-themed restaurants and hotels to cash in on the admiration for the former leader.

Reform and opening up have brought about economic miracles nationwide. China’s per capita gross domestic product was less than 200 U.S. dollars in 1978, one-third of the level in Sub-Saharan Africa at the time.

Now China has become the world’s second-largest economy and joined the ranks of middle-income countries, with per capita GDP exceeding 6,000 U.S. dollars.

The market economy and emancipation of minds have resulted in a massive human migration. Over 200 million rural residents have moved to work in the eastern coastal manufacturing centers and other cities to seek fortune. A further, wide-ranging opening up has also brought growth opportunities to the western inland areas.

 

REVIVAL

 

When Mao was born in 1893, China was faced with internal and external troubles. A reform movement failed to save the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) from being toppled. Sun Yat-sen, known as the Father of Modern China, also failed to avert internal conflicts.

After decades of struggles and endeavors, Mao and his comrades founded the People’s Republic of China, which ended the oppression and aggression by foreign forces and achieved the independence and the liberation of the Chinese nation. A once-split China became a unified country of all parts except Taiwan.

In the following years, independent and relatively comprehensive industry and national economic systems, and the invention of satellites and nuclear and hydrogen bombs, helped boost national pride and confidence. Mao was regarded as China’s biggest patriot and national hero in modern times.

Although Mao made severe mistakes in his late years, particularly during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong Thought, which emphasizes seeking truth from facts, the “mass line” and independence, is still the long-term guiding principle for CPC governance.

Without the pros and cons of historical experience gained from practical exploration before reform and opening up, processes would not have proceeded so smoothly, Xi said.

Today the concept of economic construction has become the central work of the government, and the reform and opening up policy have taken root deep in people’s hearts. Meanwhile, generations of CPC leaders have worked out a road to national rejuvenation — a socialist road with Chinese characteristics.

Chairman Mao once summarized the national rejuvenation in two targets: state independence and national liberation, and a rich people and powerful nation.

China met the first target after more than 100 years of struggle, and the ruling CPC has pledged to achieve the second goal on the 100th anniversary of new China in 2049.

Xi proposed the “Chinese dream,” a concept targeting “the great renewal of the Chinese nation,” shortly after he took helm of the CPC in November last year. The Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee last month rolled out a reform blueprint for a richer and stronger China.

But the revival will not come easily.

At a museum in the suburbs of Chengdu in southwest China, historical materials show the extreme personality cult seen in the era of class struggle. They serve as reminders today of the importance of the pursuit of democracy and the rule of law and the maintenance of social stability.

“To realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, we must unswervingly advance reform and opening up,” Xi told the symposium, stressing that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee launched wide-ranging reforms.

With reforms and efforts — from the anti-graft and “mass line” campaigns, to campaigns for food safety and cleaner air — the CPC is trying to tackle the obstacles on the road to rejuvenation.

 

 

 

 

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