Mao Zedong

Chinese bloggers clash over Mao's legacy on 120th anniversary of his birth

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 December, 2013, 12:40pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 December, 2013, 2:50pm

As the Communist Party celebrates on Thursday the 120th birthday of its late leader Mao Zedong, some of Mao most staunch supporters exchanged fire with his harshest critics in a highly-charged war-of-words over the flaws and merits of the controversial former leader.

But the debate quickly descended into a litany of personal attacks and profanities as anger bubbled over into the heated debate.

On the closely-censored Sina Weibo, China's Twitter-like platform, Zhu Dequan, the editor-in-chief of a government-run news website in Shandong Province known for his conservative views, quickly found himself under fire after he posted a fawning post on "grandpa Mao Zedong."

"Today is the birthday of my grandpa," his post read. "I'd like to offer him a bowl of longevity noodle with pepper and pork."

"I'd like to eat a bowl of noodle in his memory and tell grandpa that we will not allow a country he established to sink," microblogger Wang Xiaoshi said in support.

Wang is the author of a controversial commentary that appeared in many government-run websites in August, lashing out at advocates of Western-style political reform and warning that democracy would leave China in the same "weakened state" as it did Russia.

Zhu's post managed to elicit thousands of angry responses from microbloggers who said they had found his writing disgusting.

"We all know that Mao Xinyu is the only grandson of Mao Zedong," a microblogger wrote. "Yet there have been shameless cons posing as his grandchildren."

"I saw this coming," Zhu later wrote after slurs flooded his weibo page. "But I am not scared because I have firm values."

Meanwhile, a viral animation video of Mao's life produced by M4, a Beijing-based website that often carries pro-government opinion content, drew mixed reactions from viewers.

Watch: Chinese animation: Mao Zedong and his Chinese dream

In a highly flattering tone, "Mao Zedong and his Chinese dream" tells the life and achievements of the former leader, including "going to wars with India, the Soviet Union and the US" after 1949. The clip claims that Mao Zedong's "Chinese dream," as shared by many Chinese today, is to see "the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation".

Chen Guo, a Shanghai-based consultant, soon pointed out on his weibo that the clip inaccurately represented Mao's life.

"The theme of the animation is vague, and there are factual errors," he wrote.

However the clip appeared to have gained appreciation from many viewers.

"Mao's Chinese dream went too radical in his later years and it caused mishaps for China," wrote a Shanghai blogger, "but we should recognise his contribution in founding our country."

He Weifang, a liberal professor from Peking University with more than million followers, suggested on his weibo that political movements started by Mao should not be dismissed when examining Mao's life.

"The cultural revolution, the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1961, and the 1957 anti-rightist campaign... people's lives were in danger and bodies were everywhere. Can you call that glorious achievement? " he wrote. "How Could Xi [Jinping] not see this?"