Chairman Mao gigantic golden statue built by villagers
Nearly 40 years after the death of China’s “Great Helmsman” a gigantic golden statue of Chairman Mao has been erected in rural China by admiring business people and villagers.
The 36 metre tall mega-Mao, which reportedly cost 3m yuan (about £312,000), towers over Tongxu county near the city of Kaifeng in Henan province.
Chinese media reports say the statue is built from steel and concrete and decorated in gold-coloured paint.
Mao Zedong, who ruled China until his death in September 1976, has been blamed for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese citizens when his “Great Leap Forward” push for breakneck industrialisation caused a calamitous famine.
Henan province, still one of China’s poorest regions, was one of the areas worst hit by the famine, which some believe claimed up to 45 million lives.
Entrepreneurs and villagers in Henan’s Tongxu county reportedly began construction on their Mao tribute in March last year and completed the statue in mid-December. Photographs of China’s colossal chairman spread rapidly on the Chinese internet this week after being published by a Henan-based news website.
Liu Jianwu, the dean of China’s Mao Zedong research centre, said the statue appeared to have been designed to “commemorate a leader”.
“In contemporary China, Mao Zedong represents the embodiment of fairness and justice,” Liu claimed. “In the hearts of ordinary people, Mao represents fairness and justice. So people hold these kinds of emotions towards him.”
However, the golden effigy drew online criticism. “How about using the money for poverty alleviation first?” one user of Weibo, China’s micro-blogging site, wrote, according to the Hong Kong Free Press website.
Mao, whose portrait still stares out over Beijing’s Tiananmen Square and appears on banknotes, has enjoyed something of a revival under Xi Jinping, who became president three years ago.
Mao’s favourite revolutionary opera was recently remade for stage and screen while a professor at one of China’s top universities has started offering an online course on “Mao Zedong Thought”.
In 2013, Xi marked the 120th anniversary of the chairman’s birth by promising to “hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought forever”.
“Mao is a great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny,” Xi said.
Despite the nascent Maoist renaissance, Liu denied there was any political significance to Henan’s decision to honour the Great Helmsman with a glittering statue. “This doesn’t exist,” he said.
The academic cautioned against such super-sized tributes to China’s founding father. “There is no need to build such a big statue and I do not suggest people imitate this either,” he said.