Leaders pay respects to Mao

By Hu Qingyun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-12-27 1:03:01

A man holds a miniature statue of Mao Zedong at a spontaneously organized commemoration in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, Mao's birthplace, on Thursday. Photo: CFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that the Communist Party of China (CPC) will hold high the banner of Mao Zedong Thought "forever," as he attended a symposium commemorating the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth.

Before the symposium, Xi and six other members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee visited Mao's mausoleum at Tiananmen Square, bowing three times toward the seated statue of Mao, before paying their respects to his remains.

Addressing the symposium, Xi hailed Mao and the other members of the older generation of revolutionaries as "great figures" that changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny. But 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 added that one cannot use today's conditions and level of development and understanding to judge predecessors, nor can people expect them to have done things that only the successors can do.

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.

Wang Zhanyang, director of the Political Science Department at the Central Institute of Socialism, told the Global Times that although this is not the first time Xi has made such remarks, it still indicates that the leadership's reform is on the right track.

"Deng Xiaoping, who kicked off China's reform, has already shared similar reviews when judging the Party's history. Xi inherited Deng's reflections on Mao, which suggests the leadership will follow a path of reform," he said.

Xi has required Party members to remember Mao's warning of "not following the example of Li Zicheng," a rebel leader who overthrew the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Li led a short lived regime, which fell due to public anger over its corruption.

Zhang Xixian, a professor with the Party School of the CPC Central Committee, told the Global Times that Xi's remarks show the leadership's determination to putting effort into the anti-corruption campaigns.

Wang agreed with Zhang, adding that problems within the Party, such as corruption, may have caused risks to the Party's rule, adding Xi's remarks may be a warning toward all Party members.

The CPC in June initiated a year of campaigning to strengthen the "mass line," a guideline under which the CPC is required to prioritize the interests of the people. Meanwhile, in the past year, the Party's anti-graft campaign has punished a number of high-level officials.

Compared with similar activities in the past two decades, this year's commemoration is relatively scaled back.

A concert in Beijing changed its title from "The Sun is Reddest, Chairman Mao is Dearest" to "Ode to the Motherland" and other self-organized activities were toned down or cancelled by authorities, raising speculation as to why.

However, the commemoration held by the central leadership almost followed the same pattern as those in 1993 and 2003, at which then top leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao gave speeches hailing Mao's achievements, while also acknowledging that he made some mistakes in his final years. The 100th anniversary was marked by a memorial attended by over 10,000 people.

Wang said that the Party is cautious about this matter, and the commemoration this year is designed to appeal to the concerns of people from both the conservative and liberal camps.

Some extreme conservative-leaning thoughts became popular in the society, Wang said, adding the leadership doesn't want such thoughts over-hyped.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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