November 16, 2023
TOKYO – A bronze statue of Mao Zedong, the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, was removed by unknown people only a month after residents installed it in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province. The removal is believed to have been ordered by the authorities and has caused a stir among Mao supporters. As the 130th anniversary of the birth of Mao is coming up in December, the authorities are likely wary that excessive worship of Mao, who emphasized equality, may lead to dissatisfaction with the gap between the rich and the poor.
According to residents, Mao’s statue was erected at a square in Changsha’s village of Huashi, and an unveiling ceremony was held on Oct.1, China’s National Day. The Chinese Communist Party’s branch in the village was involved in the statue’s installation, and residents donated funds. On Nov. 2, however, people in black clothing attempted to remove the statue. The move was blocked by residents, but the statue was removed before dawn on Nov. 4, having been lifted by a crane and taken away.
Even the base of the statue has now been removed, and surveillance cameras overlooking the square are newly installed.
“Even the head of the village was calling for donations,” a woman in her 70s who contributed funds to the statue said. “I completely don’t understand what the problem was with the statue.” There were also comments on Maoist websites such as, “Righteous Chinese who love Mao Zedong have nothing but sorrow and anger.” Such posts were later deleted.
Although Mao’s statues were installed across China during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), a mass political movement launched by Mao, they were removed once the movement was over. According to a Hong Kong newspaper, Mao’s statues are being installed again in China in recent years as a result of growing respect and affection for Mao. In August, a marble statue of Mao in Shandong Province was taken away before the unveiling ceremony. It is believed that local authorities saw the unauthorized installation as a problem.