Mao Zedong loved to dance, and he might have liked singing, too. But depicting the former leader with microphone in hand put one Zhejiang karaoke club in strife.
The 0576 KTV club in the Luqiao district of Taizhou put up two posters on National Day of Mao in his classic pose: back straight, chin up, left hand raised to address the crowd. But instead of the 'little red book', there is a giant microphone in his hand. 'Flourishing Age China: Celebrate National Day', the poster said. Next to Mao was a list of nationalistic songs such as Today is your Birthday, Sing for the Country and I Love You, China.
The door-height posters in bright red caught attention, but not in the way the KTV manager expected. According to China News Service, some of the customers complained that 'using Chairman Mao to attract business runs against the sentiments of the public, and damages the great man's image'.
The KTV manager defended the posters, saying they were designed to celebrate National Day and they did not depict Mao in any negative way.
But the posters were taken down, and the club reportedly fined.
'In China, to project the leaders in a negative light is definitely illegal, but even a positive depiction is not allowed if it involves any commercial motives,' intellectual property lawyer Zhai Gemin, of the Beijing Yuecheng Law Firm, said.
Authorities were relatively relaxed about artists toying with images of leaders, Zhai said. But the Mao memorabilia one sees at every tourist spot are, strictly speaking, manufactured and sold against the law.
A notice issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in 2007 prohibited the use of images of party and government leaders - be they current or former, dead or alive - for commercial purposes of any form.