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China celebrates Mao’s flawed legacy

Cross-post from: Howie’s Corner

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China is one of the great economic success stories of recent years. Its booming economy and economic reach have surprised and probably baffled many. At the same time the gap between the rich and the poor in China has increased exponentially, corruption amongst its elite has not only rocketed but caused much open consternation amongst the general population.

Yet China is a communist country is not?

Their leaders certainly think so, formally at least and today the country celebrates 120 years since the Birth of of it’s modern founder, Mao Zedong (as we now “correctly “spell it apparently).

Mao remains revered and yet the celebrations are strangely muted (but had US$2.5 Billion spent on special events), despite the production of a lavish TV drama based on his life and times (see here) which has been translated into several languages, including English which may lead to its appearance on a telly near you…..

The Peoples Daily reports glowingly:

Today is the 120th anniversary of the birth of comrade Mao Zedong.

Mao Zedong was born in 1893 in Shaoshan Village in central China’s Hunan Province. He died in 1976 at 83. As the main founder of the PRC, Mao is one of the most influential figures in China’s modern history.

Comrade Mao Zedong was a great Marxist, proletarian revolutionary, strategist, and theorist. He had broad-mindedness and awe-inspiring vision. Till now, Mao lives on in many Chinese people’s hearts and remains an eternal inspiration to people around the world. Activities marking the 120th anniversary of his birth have been held across China recently.

However China has never had its “Khrushchev moment” (in which the great leaders mistakes and crimes were finally admitted to), as The Age tells us:

Zhang Lifan, a historian who specializes in the Communist Party, said he felt that this year there was a bit more attention being paid to Mao than on previous major anniversaries “because there are a lot of social conflicts and lots of debate about how we should regard Mao.”

At the same time, he said the government was blocking any “real discussion” about Mao, noting that when he recently posted some material online intending to “start a new debate” about him, his microblog account was promptly shut down. Compared to the 1980s, when many documents about Mao’s era were being released and there was a much more open discussion about him, “now the government does not allow you to know or discuss the facts,” he added.

Zhang said he believed party leaders had looked at the history of the Communist collapse in the Soviet Union and concluded that discrediting Stalin was among the mistakes the party made that led to its downfall.

“But the achievements of reform have been getting away from Mao’s policies, and the problems that remain all have Mao’s DNA in them,” he said. “To discuss Mao is an unavoidable thing … and hiding history is a foolish move.”

So the comrades are literally caught between “a rock and a hard place”. Damned if they do, damned if they don’t.

Mao was responsible for the deaths of untold millions through his policies. There are still those who suffer from his genocidal legacy. Especially in Tibet.

What the future holds is impossible to tell, but history teaches us all things must end one way or another. The real question will be what replaces the current tyranny? China has no democratic tradition, so the fight for one will be difficult indeed.

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