OFFICIALLY, Mao was only 70 per cent good and 30 per cent bad, but don't try telling that to the residents of his home town, Shaoshan. It is virtually impossible to find anyone in the village who has a bad word for the Great Helmsman. Their most famous native son was a great revolutionary who led China out of poverty, restored national pride and brought honour and prestige to their hometown. Try to suggest, for example, that the huge villa in the hills above the village, built for Mao at a cost of millions of yuan when much of China was in the grip of famine, was an extravagant waste, and the people of Shaoshan will look at you as though youwere from another planet. The late chairman only stayed in the villa, which has its own underground bomb shelter, for 11 days in 1966. But the locals, many of whom were forced to build the villa and the road to it, said it was worth every cent. The leader of China should be accorded a luxurious and tranquil retreat in the hills where he played as a child, they said. Even the bomb shelter, dug deep into the mountainside and guarded by a series of thick cast-iron doors, was necessary because ''the nest of the dragon must be protected''. The villa at Dishuidong was built because Mao feared an attack from the Soviet air force (which never came) after the breakdown in relations between China and the Soviet Union in the early 1960s. Shaoshan's newly refurbished Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, which contains one of the most extensive archives of material from Mao's first 50 years, does not mention the Cultural Revolution, nor is there any sign of the chairman's fourth wife, Jiang Qing. The photographic exhibits abruptly ended in 1965, only to begin again in 1972 when United States president Richard Nixon visited China. The Red Guards, instigated by Mao in 1966, are nowhere to be seen in the museum, nor is there any trace of the Helmsman's former comrade in arms, Lin Biao, who died in mysterious circumstances after allegedly leading a coup attempt against Mao in 1971. When asked about the omissions, staff at the museum tend to stare at their feet in embarrassment. Other villagers said they preferred to remember what was good about Mao, as if it were disresprectful to look at the negative aspects of his life. The publicity for the Shaoshan mineral water company, run by Mao's grandson Mao Xinning, said Shaoshan was ''a remarkable place producing outstanding people, which was pregnant with the first great personage of China - Mao Zedong, and is called the placeof Gods by the people.''