The coming Thursday will mark Mao’s 120th birthday. On this past Sunday, in an editorial titled “Mao denigration is but a naïve delusion of the few”, China’s famous pro-government media Global Times argued that “the perception of Mao as an unprecedented great man has a deep root among the Chinese people,” and that “those who think Mao’s reputation in China has been ruined are in a naive delusion.”
The editorial started by acknowledging an on-going online debate between those who support Mao and those who disparage him. Well…after numerous Chinese media shared the article online, it apparently heated up the debate even more. And probably much to its dismay, most of the netizens who bothered to leave comments are still “naively deluding” themselves.
“After reading the real history, I can forgive you [Mao] because I know how to forget. After learning that you’ve slaughtered millions of Chinese, I can forgive you because I know mercy. But living in today’s China, and seeing millions of thickheaded Mao fans, I cannot forgive you because you’ve made an ancient civilization with thousands of years of history a joke of the human kind; because you’ve made China in the 21st century look like Qin Dynasty. Mao, you are a criminal condemned by history.” One netizen 上海康康7 bitter commented.
Such perception may be one of the extremes, but the sentiment it expresses is widely shared. Deng Xiaoping, the “architect” of modern China, judged Mao as “70% right and 30% wrong.” This once well-received judgment, however, is challenged by many netizens today.
One netizen 向军姐夫 commented: “I don’t agree that Mao has done more good than bad. Quite the opposite, in fact.” Another W王H昊 further explained: “The 30% good Mao has done was to the Communist Party. The 70% bad Mao has done was to all Chinese people.”
China’s younger generations, unlike their parents or grandparents, didn’t grew up under the direct influence of Mao. On the contrary, they gradually learned, mostly from the Internet, about the horrible turmoil that their parents and grandparents have went through in Mao era.
The image of Mao as an “unprecedented great man” indeed has a deep root in China, but not among many of the younger generations. Like some netizen commented: “Without Mao, there would still be a new China, but there wouldn’t be the Cultural Revolution, among many others.”
In the Global Times editorial, “the West” was once again blamed for “demonizing” Mao. But as many netizens pointed out, until China does as careful aftermath of all of Mao’s “mistakes”, there is no point in celebrating his contributions.