Chairman Mao Meets With Dr. W.E.B. Dubois & Shirley Graham Dubois in China, 1959
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By Emma Graham-Harrison
Sat Sep 9, 1:39 AM ET
Thousands queued at Beijing's Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum on Saturday for a glimpse of the embalmed corpse of the former Great Helmsman on the 30th anniversary of his death but Chinese state media kept coverage of the event low-key.
Police and undercover agents infiltrating crowds outside the squat building on Tiananmen Square were a reminder of government sensitivity about how the man who founded "new China" -- but then plunged it into bouts of famine and chaos -- is remembered.
Five years after his death the Communist Party, which uses Mao as an ideological prop to help govern an increasingly materialistic country, officially declared him "70 percent right and 30 percent wrong." It has discouraged further discussion.
"Their legitimacy still relies upon his enormous legend. Khrushchev denounced Stalin knowing they could fall back on Lenin. but Mao is both," said Roderick MacFarquhar, Mao scholar at Harvard University.
For the hundreds of millions of rural poor in particular, often left behind by the vast economic changes of recent years, he represents a government that cared about their plight.
"We adore Chairman Mao. We are farmers like him and have endured a lot of hardship," said 45-year old Guo Xin, who had taken an overnight bus from neighboring Hebei province to lay three yellow chrysanthemums at the Mausoleum at dawn.
But officials who use Mao's image to shore up their authority are also wary of stirring up memories of his increasingly autocratic leadership and ruthless political campaigns, which claimed millions of lives.
The low-profile cover of the anniversary was a stark contrast to the extravagant bombast of tributes at the height of Mao's personality cult.
A memorial gala with the throwback title "The reddest sun -- Chairman Mao is the most beloved" was held at the cavernous seat of parliament, the Great Hall of the People, on Friday.
But its program of famous names from the 1960s and 1970s performing songs based on Mao's works and reciting his poems got just a brief write-up buried in the pages of the Beijing Daily.
Only the English-language China Daily, a government paper aimed mostly at foreigners, put the anniversary on its front page, but the article relied on foreigners' comments, leaving out Chinese scholars' views of their former leader.
The government's mixed assessment of Mao's legacy is echoed by many who lived through first the famine caused by his Great Leap Forward and then the decade of chaos and persecution Mao sparked in 1966 when he launched the Cultural Revolution.
"Life is better today, we have a lot more opportunities and choices. In Mao's day everything was rationed, from food to oil," said supermarket worker Zhan Jingsheng, 50, standing beneath the huge Mao portrait on the Tiananmen gate that gazes across the square to his own mausoleum.
"But we have more worries. In Mao's day the state took care of us and we couldn't be fired. We did not have a lot, but we didn't starve," Zhan said.
But for many of the younger generation, Mao's relevance as anything more than an abstract figurehead is fading.
Strolling on the vast square to enjoy a rare day of sunshine in the pollution-clogged capital, Li Xin, a 24-year-old clerk in a sports goods store, was oblivious to the day's significance.
"What is it today? Teachers' day?," he said when asked if he was outside the Mausoleum to commemorate the anniversary.
(Additional reporting by Benjamin Kang Lim and Lindsay Beck)
PANW Editor's Note: In the following segment we present four statements by Mao Tse-tung on the African struggle in the US and the global revolution against imperialism.
Oppose Racial Discrimmination By U.S. Imperialism
August 8, 1963
[SOURCE: Peking Review No. 33, 1963.]
An American Negro leader now taking refuge in Cuba, Mr. Robert Williams, the former President of the Monroe, North Carolina, Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, has twice this year asked me for a statement in support of the American Negroes’ struggle against racial discrimmination. I wish to take this opportunity, on behalf of the Chinese people, to express our resolute support for the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimmination and for freedom and equal rights.
There are more than nineteen million Negroes in the United States, or about eleven per cent of the total population. Their position in society is one of enslavement, oppression and discrimmination. The overwhelming majority of the Negroes are deprived of their right to vote. On the whole it is only the most back-breaking and most despised jobs that are open to them. Their average wages are only from a third to a half of those of the white people. The ratio of unemployment among them is the highest. In many states they cannot go to the same school, eat at the same table, or travel in the same section of a bus or train with the white people. Negroes are frequently and arbitrarily arrested, beaten up and murdered by U.S. authorities at various levels and members of the Ku Klux Klan and other racists. About half of the American Negroes are concentrated in eleven states in the south of the United States. There, the discrimmination and prosecution they suffer are especially startling.
The American Negroes are awakening, and their resistance is growing ever stronger. In recent years the mass struggle of the American Negroes against racial discrimmination and for freedom and equal rights has been constantly developing.
In 1957 the Negro people in Little Rock, Arkansas, waged a fierce struggle against the barring of their children from public schools. The authorities used armed force against them, and there resulted the Little Rock incident which shocked the world.
In 1960 Negroes in more than twenty states held ‘sit in’ demonstrations in protest against racial segregation in local restaurants, shops and other public places.
In 1961 the Negroes launched a campaign of ‘freedom riders’ to oppose racial segregation in transport, a campaign which rapidly extended to many states.
In 1962 the Negroes in Mississippi fought for the equal right to enrol in colleges and were greeted by the authorities with repression which culminated in a blood bath.
This year, the struggle of the American Negroes started in early April in Birmingham, Alabama. Unarmed, bare-handed Negro masses were subjected to wholesale arrests and the most barbarous repression merely because they were holding meetings and parades against racial discrimmination. On 12 June, an extreme was reached with the cruel murder of Mr. Medgar Evers, a leader of the Negro people in Mississippi. These Negro masses, aroused to indignation and undaunted by ruthless violence, carried on their struggles even more courageously and quickly won the support of Negroes and all strata of the people throughout the United States. A gigantic and vigorous nationwide struggle is going on in nearly every state and city in the United States, and the struggle keeps mounting. American Negro organizations have decided to start a ‘freedom march’ on Washington on 28 August, in which 2,50,000 people will take part.
The speedy development of the struggle of the American Negroes is a manifestation of the constant sharpening of class struggle and national struggle within the United States; it has been causing increasingly grave anxiety to the U.S. ruling clique. The Kennedy Administration has resorted to cunning two-faced tactics. On the one hand, it continues to connive at and take part in the discrimmination against and persecution of Negroes; it even sends troops to repress them. On the other hand, it is parading as an advocate the ‘defence of human rights’ and the ‘protection of the civil rights of Negroes’, is calling upon the Negro people to exercise ‘restraint’, and is proposing to Congress so-called ‘civil rights legislation’ in an attempt to numb the fighting will of the Negro people and deceive the masses throughout the country. However, these tactics of the Kennedy Administration are being seen through by more and more of the Negroes. The fascist atrocities committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Negro people have laid bare the true nature of the so-called democracy and freedom in the United States and revealed the inner link between the reactionary polices pursued by the U.S. Government at home and its policies of aggression abroad.
I call upon the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals, enlightened elements of the bourgeoisie, and other enlightened personages of all colours in the world, white, black, yellow, brown, etc., to unite to oppose the racial discrimmination practiced by U.S. imperialism and to support the American Negroes in their struggle against racial discrimmination. In the final analysis, a national struggle is a question of class struggle. In the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling clique among the whites which is oppressing the Negro people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals, and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. At present, it is the handful of imperialists, headed by the United States, and their supporters, the reactionaries in different countries, who are carrying out oppression, aggression and intimidation against the overwhelming majority of the nations and peoples of the world. They are the minority, and we are the majority. At most they make up less than ten percent of the 3,000 million people of the world. I am deeply convinced that, with the support of more than ninety per cent of the people of the world, the just struggle of the American Negroes will certainly be victorious. The evil system of colonialism and imperialism grew on along with the enslavement of the Negroes and the trade in Negroes; it will surely come to its end with the thorough emancipation of the black people.
The Racial Question Is A Class Question
August 9, 1963
[SOURCE: This is the full text of Comrade Mao's remarks to his African visitors on this occasion, as reported in Jen-min jih-pao on 9 August 1963.]
Chairman Mao Tse-tung received visitors from Africa here this afternoon [8 August 1963]. During the reception, Chairman Mao Tse-tung made a statement calling upon the people of the world to unite against racial discrimination by U.S. imperialism and support the American Negroes in their just struggle against racial discrimination.
Chairman Mao Tse-tung had a very cordial, friendly talk with the friends from Africa. During the talk, he condemned the racial discrimination practiced by U.S. imperialism, as well as that of the colonialist authorities of South Africa and in every part of the world. “Racial discrimination”, he said, “is found in Africa, in Asia, and in other parts of the world. The racial question is in essence a class question. Our unity is not one of race; it is the unity of comrades and friends. We should strengthen our unity and wage a common struggle against imperialism. colonialism, and the running dogs, to attain complete and thorough national independence and liberation.”
After explaining how China’s revolutionary struggle had won through to victory, Chairman Mao said: “This proves that a revolution by the people can triumph and that imperialism and its running clogs can be defeated. The tide of anti-imperialism and anti-colonialism is sweeping through all Africa. All countries whether or not they have already attained independence, will sooner or later win complete and thorough independence and liberation. All the Chinese people support you. The people of Africa are awakening with each passing day; so are the people of the whole world. The workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and all other revolutionary people, who constitute over ninety per cent of the world’s population, can be united in the fight for the victory of the revolution.”
“In the fight for thorough emancipation,” Chairman Mao said, “the oppressed peoples rely first of all on their own strength and then, and only then, on international assistance. The people who have already won victory in their revolution should help those who are still struggling for liberation. This is our internationalist duty.”
A New Storm Against Imperialism
April 16, 1968
[SOURCE: Peking Review, April 19, 1968, pp. 5-6.]
[“Statement by Comrade Mao Tse-tung, Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, in Support of the Afro-American Struggle Against Violent Repression” (April 16, 1968)]
Some days ago, Martin Luther King, the Afro-American clergyman, was suddenly assassinated by the U.S. imperialists. Martin Luther King was an exponent of nonviolence. Nevertheless, the U.S. imperialists did not on that account show any tolerance toward him, but used counter-revolutionary violence and killed him in cold blood. This has taught the broad masses of the Black people in the United States a profound lesson. It has touched off a new storm in their struggle against violent repression sweeping well over a hundred cities in the United States, a storm such as has never taken place before in the history of that country. It shows that an extremely powerful revolutionary force is latent in the more than twenty million Black Americans.
The storm of Afro-American struggle taking place within the United States is a striking manifestation of the comprehensive political and economic crisis now gripping U.S. imperialism. It is dealing a telling blow to U.S. imperialism, which is beset with difficulties at home and abroad.
The Afro-American struggle is not only a struggle waged by the exploited and oppressed Black people for freedom and emancipation, it is also a new clarion call to all the exploited and oppressed people of the United States to fight against the barbarous rule of the monopoly capitalist class. It is a tremendous aid and inspiration to the struggle of the people throughout the world against U.S. imperialism and to the struggle of the Vietnamese people against U.S. imperialism. On behalf of the Chinese people, I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.
Racial discrimination in the United States is a product of the colonialist and imperialist system. The contradiction between the Black masses in the United States and the U.S. ruling circles is a class contradiction. Only by overthrowing the reactionary rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class and destroying the colonialist and imperialist system can the Black people in the United States win complete emancipation. The Black masses and the masses of white working people in the United States have common interests and common objectives to struggle for. Therefore, the Afro-American struggle is winning sympathy and support from increasing numbers of white working people and progessives in the United States. The struggle of the Black people in the United States is bound to merge with the American workers’ movement, and this will eventually end the criminal rule of the U.S. monopoly capitalist class.
In 1963, in the “Statement Supporting the Afro-Americans in Their Just Struggle Against Racial Discrimination by U.S. Imperialism,” I said that the “the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people.” I still maintain this view.
At present, the world revolution has entered a great new era. The struggle of the Black people in the United States for emancipation is a component part of the general struggle of al the people of the world against U.S. imperialism, a component part of the contemporary world revolution. I call on the workers, peasants, and revolutionary intellectuals of all countries and all who are willing to fight against U.S. imperialism to take action and extend strong support to the struggle of the Black people in the United States! People of the whole world, unite still more closely and launch a sustained and vigorous offensive against our common enemy, U.S. imperialism, and its accomplices! It can be said with certainty that the complete collapse of colonialism, imperialism, and all systems of exploitation, and the complete emancipation of all the oppressed peoples and nations of the world are not far off.
People Of The World, Unite And Defeat The U.S. Aggressors
And All Their Running Dogs
May 23, 1970
[SOURCE: Peking Review (23 May, 1970).]
A new upsurge in the struggle against U.S. imperialism is now emerging throughout the world. Ever since the Second World War, U.S. imperialism and its followers have been continuously launching wars of aggression and the people in various countries have been continuously waging revolutionary wars to defeat the aggressors. The danger of a new world war still exists, and the people of all countries must get prepared. But revolution is the main trend in the world today.
Unable to win in Vietnam and Laos, the U.S. aggressors treacherously engineered the reactionary coup d’etat by the Lon Nol Sirik Matak clique, brazenly dispatched their troops to invade Cambodia and resumed the bombing of North Vietnam, and this has aroused the furious resistance of the three Indo Chinese peoples. I warmly support the fighting spirit of Samdech Norodom Sihanouk, Head of State of Cambodia, in opposing U.S. imperialism and its lackeys. I warmly support the Joint Declaration of the Summit Conference of the Indo Chinese Peoples. I warmly support the establishment of the Royal Government of National Union under the Leadership of the National United Front of Kampuchea.
Strengthening their unity, supporting each other and persevering in a protracted people’s war, the three Indo-Chinese peoples will certainly overcome all difficulties and win complete victory.
While massacring the people in other countries, U.S. imperialism is slaughtering the white and black people in its own country. Nixon’s fascist atrocities have kindled the raging flames of the revolutionary mass movement in the United States. The Chinese people firmly support the revolutionary struggle of the American people. I am convinced that the American people who are fighting valiantly will ultimately win victory and that the fascist rule in the United States will inevitably be defeated.
The Nixon government is beset with troubles internally and externally, with utter chaos at home and extreme isolation abroad. The mass movement of protest against U.S. aggression in Cambodia has swept the globe. Less than ten days after its establishment, the Royal Government of National Union of Cambodia was recognized by nearly twenty countries. The situation is getting better and better in the war of resistance against U.S. aggression and for national salvation waged by the people of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. The revolutionary armed struggles of the people of the South-east Asian countries, the struggles of the people of Korea, Japan and other Asian countries against the revival of Japanese militarism by the U.S. and Japanese reactionaries, the struggles of the Palestinian and other Arab peoples against the U.S.-Israeli aggressors, the national-liberation struggles of the Asian, African and Latin American peoples, and the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of North America, Europe and Oceania are all developing vigorously. The Chinese people firmly support the people of the three Indo-Chinese countries and of other countries of the world in their revolutionary struggles against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys.
U.S. imperialism, which looks like a huge monster, is in essence a paper tiger, now in the throes of its deathbed struggle. In the world of today, who actually fears whom? It is not the Vietnamese people, the Laotian people, the Cambodian people, the Palestinian people, the Arab people or the people of other countries who fear U.S. imperialism; it is U.S. imperialism which fears the people of the world. It becomes panic-stricken at the mere rustle of leaves in the wind. Innumerable facts prove that a just cause enjoys abundant support while an unjust cause finds little support. A weak nation can defeat a strong, a small nation can defeat a big. The people of a small country can certainly defeat aggression by a big country, if only they dare to rise in struggle, dare to take up arms and grasp in their own hands the destiny of their country. This is a law of history.
People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!