A military scholar has sought to play down the political significance of the new collection of Mao Zedong's quotations he is editing, saying the volume is not an effort bring back the "little red book" from the Cultural Revolution.
The book, which may be published in time for the 120th anniversary of Mao's birth in December, has stirred fears among the liberals that the country is taking a more conservative political line. It would be the first time a book of Mao's quotations has been published on the mainland since the late 1970s.
But the book's editor, Chen Yu , a researcher with the Academy of Military Sciences under the People's Liberation Army, rejected any effort to tie his work to the symbol of the decade of upheaval at the end of Mao's reign.
"Linking the publication of this book with the Cultural Revolution is totally wrong," Chen said. "It is merely a publication of scientific research, not a re-publishing of the previous Quotations from Chairman Mao ."
The "little red book" was first published by the PLA and circulated among the troops. It was later distributed through all walks of life and became a fixture at rallies of student Red Guards who preached unquestioning support for Mao's ideas.
Chen refused to comment on the details of his book. But one mainland media report said it would neither be little nor red.
The book would be about the size of an A4 sheet and printed on expensive rice paper, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily. Each copy would cost more than 2,000 yuan (HK$2,521) - or almost three months' income for the average rural resident.
It took two years for Chen to edit the book, the report said. He invited 20 people aged between 18 to over 70 - students, businessmen, scholars and housewives - to select quotations from Mao's works that they felt were the "most inspiring".