State news agency Xinhua has denied reports that a new edition of Mao Zedong’s quotations would be published before the end of this year.
“Reports that said ‘Chairman Mao’s Quotations’ are to be published this year are completely false,” a brief message on website Xinhuanet.com said on Tuesday, without further elaborating on the issue.
The book Quotations from Chairman Mao, which is better known as the “little red book”, was probably the best known publication in China during the Cultural Revolution, as nearly every Chinese resident was required to carry a copy.
Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis Daily last week said the book might be published in time for the 120th anniversary of Mao’s birth in December, which would be the first time it had been published on the mainland since the late 1970s around the time of Mao’s death.
The news stirred considerable debate online as many people view the book as an embodiment of the decade-long social and political upheaval that took place in China between 1966 and 1976.
The book’s editor Chen Yu, a researcher at the Academy of Military Sciences, part of the People’s Liberation Army, tried to play down the political significance of the book.
“Linking the publication of this book with the Cultural Revolution is totally wrong,” he said in an interview with South China Morning Post. "It is merely a publication of scientific research, not a re-publishing of the previous Quotations from Chairman Mao."