December 26, only a few days away, marks the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong. On the Internet, there has been fierce debate between those who are pro-Mao and those who disparage him. Some foreign media even created a new word for this particular day - "Mao-mas." The day may serve as a time when the world comments on his merits and faults. Perhaps the term "Mao-mas" will become popular as time goes by.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people led by Mao initiated a revolution that brought about the most profound changes China had seen over the last few centuries. The aftermath of such changes is still under discussion today. Even when he has already passed away for 37 years, it is difficult to disregard the history of Mao's era to make a judgment about him, because we are still more or less influenced by his era, and an evaluation of his legacy will be affected by ideologies.
We must admit that Deng Xiaoping's remark about Mao's life that he was "70 percent right and 30 percent wrong" represents the mainstream ideas about Mao. As the Cultural Revolution faded, most Chinese people began to recognize his mistakes as well as his achievements. That Mao is a great man has a strong foundation in Chinese society. Some think Mao has had an infamous reputation in society. This is only a naïve delusion of these people.
The outside world uses its own judgment when it evaluates Mao, as the revolution he led also changed the world to some extent. The performance of the CPC in the future is key to their evaluations because its performance and Mao's groundbreaking course are always interrelated.
We are certain that Mao and the CPC led China to become truly independent and laid the foundation for China's reform and opening-up. However, his personal leadership style has its own limits, which resulted in criticism toward him after his death.
A revolution always has its cruel side, as did the Chinese revolution led by Mao. Meanwhile, after a regime change brought by a revolution, a country has to undergo a transformative period. It is difficult to evaluate China's historical revolution from a humanitarian perspective or from the viewpoint of only some intellectuals. The first evaluation criteria should be the historical results of the revolution.
Until now, the results of the Chinese revolution have been positive. It helped China get out of poverty and put it on the right track of human rights development. It not only makes China outstanding among some underdeveloped countries, but also propels the West to feel unprecedented competition and challenges.
There is no historical or current evidence that is convincing enough to denigrate Mao. Voices that completely deny or support him are both highly polarized. Currently, the demonizing voices are mainly from the West, which also criticizes China's socialist system.
Those who criticize Mao do so out of political motivations rather than a desire for genuine historical debate. Those who try to undermine China's politics in the name of debating history should be resisted by China's mainstream society.