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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

World

China splurges $2.5 billion to mark Mao’s birthday; netizens criticise move
AFP
Beijing, October 18, 2013
First Published: 00:01 IST(18/10/2013)
Last Updated: 01:07 IST(18/10/2013)

More than $2.5 billion is being poured into the hometown of Communist China’s founding father Mao Zedong for projects marking the 120th anniversary of his birth, local media reported, prompting outrage Thursday.

Mao, who led the Communist Party to victory in China’s civil war, was born in Shaoshan, in the central province of Hunan, on December 26, 1893.

Xiangtan city, which includes Shaoshan, is spending 15.5 billion yuan ($2.54 billion) on 16 schemes linked to the occasion, the Changsha Evening News said, including renovating a tourist centre and preserving Mao’s former residence.

The works also include broader infrastructure projects, such as high-speed rail stations and highways, to impress the expected influx of visitors.

Local authorities in Xiangtan have hailed the commemoration by saying its “importance overrides any other at the moment”, the Global Times, which is close to the ruling party, reported earlier this week.

But Chinese Internet users reacted to the 15.5 billion yuan sum - which far exceeds a 1.95 billion figure reported earlier - with indignation on the country’s popular micro-blogging platforms.

“How much money does it cost to deal with pollution?” wrote one poster on Sina Weibo.

“I can’t believe they’re spending this much money on a dead man, a controversial dead man.”

Another said: “Xiangtan’s economy is not doing well and a lot of people have been laid off by state-owned enterprises. And they spent so lavishly! I am so ‘proud’ of them. Who are those Xiangtan officials really serving?”


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