In July, the hometown of Mao Zedong made quality standards mandatory for Mao statues, warning manufacturers that products would be confiscated if the founder of the People's Republic did not look physically proportionate or sport the right hairdo.
Over 30 years after the death of the controversial chairman, Maoism has made way for materialism in the new China. But sections of the government and military are appeasing the old guard within the Communist Party while resurrecting Mao nostalgia among the masses that still buy millions of Mao statues.
Chairman Mao preached from the Little Red Book. His portly grandson Mao Xinyu, 40, promoted recently as the youngest major general in the 83-year-old People’s Liberation Army, blogs about Maoism as a ‘very important spiritual weapon for national defence’. On Thursday, Mao was reported admitting that ‘family was a factor’ in his promotion.
Since 2008, Mao blogs about his ‘ordinary life’ like a politician cultivating a mass base. “My family is upright and honest. They are not rich. We never publicise our achievements.” In posts aimed at younger Chinese, the tell-all major general pokes fun at himself. The person he feared the most was his mother who forced him to learn revolutionary Mao poems and threatened to deny his meals if he shirked homework. Netizens praise his ‘humility,’ but some advise him to lose weight.
This Mao likes ‘hiking, swimming and reading, just like grandfather Mao’. Chinese entrepreneurs visit him, he says, to discuss Maoist business management. The State-run media gush about the grandson. The usually critical Global Times newspaper says ‘he appears to be the very model of a modern major-general’.
“Many analysts tend to see this as a sign that the interests of ‘princelings’ or children of past leaders are being accommodated to balance the aspirations of two factions ahead of the next Party congress in 2012,’’ says D. S. Rajan, director of Chennai Centre for China Studies.
The grandson is already grooming great-grandson Mao Dongdong, 6. In an interview last year, Mao described his grandfather as the ‘glorious red sun on the golden mountain,’ and said Dongdong would study Maoism, hopefully join the army and ‘become an outstanding successor of a great leader’.
Earlier this year, the Academy of Military Sciences, where Mao is a military historian, released 821 military manuscripts of Mao Zedong. Chinese youth prefer to browse Maoist ideology in the Land of Utopia, a tiny bookstore in Beijing’s Silicon Valley.