SINCE the turn of the last decade, people in China have learned to commercialise almost anything in a bid to get rich quick. The latest effort, according to an official report, is the auctioning abroad of the country's last full-length statue of Mao Zedong. The larger-than-life Mao statue is made of aluminium and magnesium. It is 2.85 metres high, a metre wide and weighs 1,650 kilograms, which is at least 20 times heavier than the late Chinese leader himself. And with a starting price of one million yuan (about HK$906,000) the statue will be the first Mao-related relic to be exhibited and auctioned outside China, said an article in the Tianjin Daily. The report did not say where or when the auction would take place. Also to be sold abroad are Mao badges - 60,000 emblems of 8,000 different kinds - which have been collected by the Mao Zedong Badge City (MZDBC). The MZDBC, established in 1991, is situated at Huanghelou, an historic spot in China's central province of Hubei which has become an avenue for the exchange, study, and exhibition of Mao badges in China. 'Mao badges are not only historic relics, but also works of art,' MZDBC director Chen Changjun was quoted as saying. 'Their exquisite craftsmanship, ingenious designs, magnificent colours and varying shapes are uniquely Chinese.' Mr Chen claimed that Mao badges had become 'a wonder' in world art, and explained that their profile abroad was aimed to 'bring the MZDBC to the world community'. Sited in front of the MZDBC, the statue was constructed in 1968 when Mao was 75 years old. It was moved to the MZDBC last year when China celebrated the 100th anniversary of Mao's birth. The newspaper said the construction of the Mao statue was initiated by workers at the Hua'an Machinery Factory, an enterprise of the now defunct Ministry of Astronautic Industry. It was constructed to commemorate the visit of Mao to the factory and the leader's 75th birthday. Aluminium and magnesium, materials originally set aside for the construction of an aircraft, were specially chosen to build the statue, the report said. Witnesses recall that at the time, Mao was outraged when he learned about the work and shouted: 'Give me back the aircraft!' The statue, described as a product of wisdom of technicians of the factory, depicts Mao in an army coat, with his eyes looking straight ahead, his left hand grasping his army hat and right hand greeting people, the report said.