Long-term view needed to judge Mao fairly

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-26 0:33:02

Today marks the 121st anniversary of Chairman Mao Zedong's birthday. In recent years, whenever the day approaches, there is always a hot debate in China on how to judge the founder of our nation. This year probably won't be an exception.

There have been official perspectives and assessments made about Mao, but this won't suppress the active discussions among the public. Given Mao's heavy weight in China's history, we have to adopt a long-term perspective to better understand him and put the controversies surrounding him to rest.

Mao still has some bearing on today's political reality in China. Whether to praise Mao or not is not only a study of history, but often manifests some aspects of current political reality, which is inviting for some people. 

Though Mao Zedong Thought stemmed from the collective wisdom of the Communist Party of China (CPC), he was easily regarded as the embodiment of the Party and New China in its early days. Furthermore, he is considered to be both the foundation of the country's achievements and problems of today. To both Mao's supporters and detractors, his reputation carries a profound significance.

Debate about Mao has been distorted heavily by a division of values. There cannot be a serious debate about Mao between people who acknowledge China's revolution and the choice of its path, and those who are against them. Such debate is only an extension of an ideological contention between the two groups. Mao's value rests on his deeds and legacy. To assess his role, it is necessary to consider the historical context he was in, and this is an open process influenced by the development of China at present and in the future. Mao cannot be given a final judgment simply.

During the process of forming a consistent understanding of Mao, China's mainstream society will gradually gain cohesion and maturity. Mao's prominence makes it an attention-getting act to invoke debate over him.

Since the Internet has become a platform for public opinion in China, unofficial history surrounding Mao's personal life has been the source of extensive speculation. Extreme views, such as discrediting his moral record and demonizing his leadership, have emerged. It is rare in the world that a founding father of a nation comes under such malicious attacks. 

There has been much controversy about Mao's life. Only when the rejuvenation of China under the Party's leadership is realized can he be given a fair judgment.

China has chosen a development path different from the Western world. It is bound to be a bumpy road, and treading it needs collective strong will. Today, support for Mao is growing, even among young people who have no experience of the Mao era. Social forces that resist demonizing Mao are also expanding, an indication that the nation's political basis is consolidating.

Posted in: Editorial

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