December 26 is the birthday of Chairman Mao. This year marks the 120th anniversary of his birth, with President Xi Jinping calling for Chairman Mao’s ideas to be upheld in today’s China. This anniversary has also rekindled the memory of my visit to Shaoshan (Mao’s old village), back in February 2009. This led me to produce a short video of the photos as shown below:
A number of people, including some in China, have tried to create the image of Mao as a monster, that is comparable to Hitler and Stalin. But Mao is still widely revered figure in China, though most would acknowledge mistakes were made in his later years. Thus, according to Xi Jingping yesterday: “Mao is a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny,”.
Most people would acknowledge Nelson Mandela as a great figure and I have no dispute with that for he is a truly great man. But I would argue that Mao made much greater contribution in changing the destiny of China than Mandela has ever done for South Africa or the Black African countries. For today, much of the Africa that Mandela left behind is still mired in poverty, corruption, tribal conflicts, wars and pernicious neo-colonialism. The dark continent still has a long way to go in changing its destiny for a better Africa.
Xi: Holding High Banner of Mao “Forever”
Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday 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 Dec. 26, 1893 and died on Sept. 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.