Chinese society memorize Mao Zedong on 128th anniversary of his birth
Published: Dec 26, 2021 09:01 PM Updated: Dec 26, 2021 09:51 PM
Residents and tourists pay tribute to late leader Mao Zedong in front of his statue at a square in Changsha, Central China's Hunan Province on Sunday, which also marked the 128th anniversary of his birth.Photo:IC

Local residents and tourists pay tribute to Chairman Mao Zedong in front of his statue at a square in downtown Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province on December 26 2021, which also marked the 128th anniversary of the late Chinese leader's birth. Photo:IC

While China and the entire world are experiencing profound changes unseen in a century, the public tribute to late Chinese leader Mao Zedong on Sunday, the 128th anniversary of his birth, seems endowed with more significance. Many found the late leader's thought still illuminates contemporary China and still inspires Chinese youth as the Communist Party of China (CPC) just celebrated its centennial in July this year. 

Despite the heavy snow that swept the central and southern half of China during the past weekend, tens of thousands of travelers battled through to arrive on Sunday at the Mao Zedong bronze statue square in Shaoshan, the late leader's hometown, to commemorate the 128th anniversary of his birth. 

Although fewer people visited Mao's hometown on his birthday this year compared to previous years due to the bitter cold and the COVID-19 resurgence in different parts of the country, Shaoshan still attracted many visitors, some of whom gathered in the square early in the morning to start the commemoration, an employee of the former residence of Mao Zedong told the Global Times on Sunday. 

A very special gift arrived in Shaoshan on Saturday, just one day ahead of the anniversary. Some of the lunar dust and soil retrieved by China's Chang'e-5 moon probe which was returned to Earth in 2020 was delivered to the city, marking the launch of the backup storage base for lunar samples for China's lunar exploration project.

Speaking at the event, Zhang Kejian, the China National Space Agency chief, stressed that storing lunar samples in Shaoshan represents the deep respects and thoughts toward the late Chinese leader and his great achievements for the Chinese people and the whole world, and it also answers to Chairman Mao's great vision of "We can bring down the moon from the Ninth Heaven" with China's success in space. 

On the same day in 2020, Shaoshan received the reentry capsule of the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft, which is now exhibited at the Mao Zedong Memorial Museum. 

Those who could not get to Shaoshan flooded to the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall in the Tiananmen Square in down Beijing, where Mao's body is kept.

"The number of visitors to the Memorial Hall today is high, as it has always been on Mao's birthday. The tickets were fully booked very early on," a staff member of the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall told the Global Times on Sunday. 

"I visit Tiananmen Square every year on this day to honor Chairman Mao," a visitor to the Memorial Hall told the Global Times. "The year 2021 marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party, when we must not forget the spirit he [Mao] taught us and the legacy he left behind." 

"Visiting the Memorial Hall always fills my heart with patriotic feelings," she said.

Other than the voluntary commemoration event, Saturday also saw the premiere of The Memorable Shaoshan Chong, a stage play about Mao's upbringing and revolutionary journey in Shaoshan. The immersive stage play is directed by Zhang Yimou, one of China's most famous directors, and features red (revolutionary) songs and Mao's poems throughout.

Those who could not make it to the scene paid tribute to the late leader online, with the hashtag "128th anniversary of Chairman Mao's birthday" attracting 120 million reads on Sina Weibo as of press time. 

The Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) published a poem on its Sina Weibo saying that "he climbed the most precipitous mountains, he crossed the most raging rivers, he fought the most powerful enemies and he also created the most amazing miracles." The poem was liked by 403,000 Weibo users.

Many netizens said that as time passes and as China is now facing rapid changes and unseen challenges from both home and abroad, they come to understand deeper and can better relate to Mao's theories.

Mao was hailed by many young Chinese people as a "jiaoyuan (a teacher)" online, which partly refers to his job as a teacher in a training college in his earlier careers, and partly because many find his theories can still illuminate contemporary China.

One of Mao's phrases, "let those reactionaries from home and abroad shiver in front of us; let them criticize us on this and that, Chinese people will achieve our goals steadily via persevering endeavors" was widely quoted online, as many used this to rebuke some Western countries' crackdown and smears against China. 

Zeng Qian, a 29-year-old company employee from Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, told the Global Times that she used to find the history around the period of the founding of the CPC humiliating and was reluctant to learn about it.

Yet as China gradually developed, she has formed a better understanding of that period of history. "Look at how the world is changing now, look how some Western countries have exposed their weakness now and how they are worried by China's rise," she said, noting that "If you read Mao's books, familiarize yourself with his speeches, you will know that he already gave answers decades ago." 

"When facing provocations from outside, we need to 'discard illusions and prepare to fight,'" Zeng said. 

Some internet users posted that facing US efforts to marshal its allies to crack down on China, Chinese should face the situation with confidence while remembering what Mao said: "Let them block us. After decades, we will have everything."