Last tribute for Mao's chosen successor

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2011, 12:00am


The park and mausoleum for Hua Guofeng, the transitional Communist Party leader at the end of the Cultural Revolution, officially opened to the public yesterday in Shanxi province after Hua's ashes arrived at the site last week.

It is built on a piece of land selected by Hua's family and cost 10 million yuan (HK$12.2 million).

Hua died on August 20, 2008, at the age of 87. His ashes were kept at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing before being brought back to his hometown of Jiaocheng county. He fought with comrades near the site when the Japanese invaded.

Hua, the hand-picked successor of Chairman Mao Zedong, was for a brief period China's most powerful man, simultaneously holding top positions in the party, the government and the military after Mao's death and the fall of the political faction known as the Gang of Four. However, he was soon sidelined by reform-minded Deng Xiaoping, who publicly criticised Hua's dogmatic following of Mao's doctrines. Hua resigned from all three positions by June 1981.

A party resolution passed the same year stated Hua played an important role in the arrest of the Gang of Four but 'made many errors' thereafter. And a party obituary in 2008 called him a 'loyal communist fighter' and 'proletarian revolutionary', without the qualifier 'great'.

Nevertheless, Hua still received relatively high-profile treatment from the party after his death.

Construction began on his memorial site in April 2009, and it consists of a 4,000-square-metre square, a 5.5-metre-tall tombstone in the shape of the letter 'H', and a grand facade of 365 steps leading up to the tombstone.

The square's name has been changed to 'Square of the Luliang Heroes' in commemoration of all those from the area who fought against the Japanese.