Premier Chou En-Lai Plays Ping Pong With President Kwame Nkrumah
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File.
By TANG YUANKAI
Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Mao Zedong’s portrait has gazed down from the symbol of state power, the Tiananmen Rostrum (entrance to the Forbidden City).
Every year, master painters touch up the painting. For the past 30 years, since he passed away, this tradition has remained, keeping the enduring image of Mao pristine in the minds of the Chinese nation. He seems to be watching the changes the country is passing through, aware of the growing pains and the rapid development all around him.
The architect of the Communist Party of China (CPC), as well as the founder of the People’s Republic, Mao not only changed the destiny of the Chinese people, but also the pattern of the world. Today, his political ideas and determination still influence not only China, but also people all over the world who fight for liberty.
Mao demonstrates China’s growing influence on the world stage. Adherence to the Mao Zedong Thought has been inscribed in the Constitution of China. It is also to be found in the CPC’s constitution, forming the fundamental principles of the ruling party.
However, for all his greatness, Mao was just a man, with the same hopes, emotions and human foibles as all of us. In retrospect, he made mistakes, as people do. As the Chinese know, in his late years, he initiated the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) in a bid to “purify” the Party and state leadership. Unfortunately, the sweeping political campaign went beyond its original intention, resulting in the tremendous losses in almost all aspects of social life and a cult following.
Today, the opening of Chinese society allows the people to broaden their views and reconsider Mao’s dominating influence. Giving an objective evaluation of Mao in history, more and more Chinese people admit that, apart from his wrongdoings, he was a great charismatic leader with numerous achievements to his name. Undoubtedly, he contributed to an important chapter of world history in the 20th century along with other influential men of his generation.
“For most of his life, Chairman Mao did very good things. Many times he saved the Party and the state from crises. Without him the Chinese people would, at the very least, have spent much more time groping in the dark,” said Deng Xiaoping, another great Chinese leader, in his talks with Oriana Fallaci, an Italian journalist.
As peace and harmonious coexistence remain the mainstream goal of the modern world, Mao’s overemphasis on “class struggle” today seems out of date. Nonetheless, the emerging social problems such as widening wealth gap, inefficient social security system, growing unemployment rate, soaring education and medical costs and increase in corrupt officials remind people of Mao’s motto: to wholeheartedly serve the people, which has been the backbone of daily Chinese moral values for generations.
For most Chinese, Mao is immortal in a spiritual sense. The new round of Mao’s commemoration reflects people’s good wishes for the future—the desire for sound social order and friendly human relationships. Nurtured by Mao’s philosophy, people seek the truth in a modern China.
Mao will never be forgotten in Chinese history, and his legacy will remain.