China and Globalization

China and Globalization

China and Globalization


Beginning in 1979 under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, China adopted market reforms and opened the country to trade and investment with Western Europe and the United States. In the decades that followed, China experienced rapid economic growth and emerged as the second largest economy in the world in the early 21st century.


Learning Objectives

  • Identify the economic reforms instituted by Deng Xiaoping.
  • Assess the impact of these reforms on the Chinese society and economy.


Key Terms / Key Concepts

one-child policy: a population planning policy of China introduced in 1979 and formally phased out starting in 2015 that allows each Chinese family to produce only one child (Provincial governments-imposed fines for the violations of the policy and local and national governments created commissions to raise awareness and carry out registration and inspection work.)

One Country, Two Systems: a constitutional principle formulated by Deng Xiaoping, the Paramount Leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), for the reunification of China during the early 1980s (He suggested that there would be only one China, but distinct Chinese regions such as Hong Kong and Macau could retain their own capitalist economic and political systems, while the rest of China uses the socialist system.)

Socialism with Chinese Characteristics: the official ideology of the Communist Party of China (CPC), claimed to be based upon scientific socialism; an ideology that supports the creation of a socialist market economy dominated by the public sector based on the claim by the CPC that China is in the primary stage of socialism (The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government maintains that it has not abandoned Marxism but has developed many of the terms and concepts of Marxist theory to accommodate its new economic system. The CPC argues that socialism is compatible with these economic policies.)

special economic zones: designated geographical areas in China, originally created in the 1980s, where the government establishes more free market-oriented economic policies and flexible governmental measures; special economic rules that allow certain areas to operate under an economic system that is more attractive to foreign and domestic firms than the economic policies in the rest of mainland China

Tiananmen Square protest: student-led demonstrations in Beijing in 1989; more broadly, a term that refers to the popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests during that period, sometimes referred to as the ’89 Democracy Movement (The protests were forcibly suppressed after the government declared martial law. In what became widely known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks killed at least several hundred demonstrators trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. The number of civilian deaths has been estimated between the hundreds and the thousands.)


Deng Xiaoping and the Economic Reform


The rise of Deng Xiaoping to power after Mao’s death resulted in far-reaching market economy reforms and China opening to global trade, while maintaining its roots in socialism. Deng Xiaoping was a Chinese revolutionary and statesman; he was leader of the People’s Republic of China from 1978 until his retirement in 1989. While he never held office as the head of state, head of government, or general secretary (the leader of the Communist Party), he nonetheless was responsible for economic reforms and an opening to the global economy.

Born into a peasant background, Deng studied and worked in France in the 1920s, where he became fascinated with Marxism-Leninism. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1923. After the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, Deng worked in Tibet and the southwest region to consolidate Communist control. As the party’s Secretary General in the 1950s, he presided over anti-rightist campaigns and became instrumental in China’s economic reconstruction following the Great Leap Forward of 1957 – 1960. His economic policies, however, were at odds with Mao’s political ideologies and he was purged twice during the Cultural Revolution. Following Mao’s death in 1976, Deng outmaneuvered Mao’s chosen successor, Hua Guofeng. Inheriting a country beset with social conflict, disenchantment with the Party, and institutional disorder resulting from the policies of the Mao era, Deng became the paramount figure of the “second generation” of Party leadership. Some called him “the architect” of a new brand of thinking that combined socialist ideology with pragmatic market economy. His slogan was “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.”


China's Opening Up


Deng made it clear that the new Chinese regime’s priorities were economic and technological development. Beginning in 1979, economic reforms boosted the market model, while the leaders maintained old Communist-style rhetoric. The commune system was gradually dismantled, and the peasants began to have more freedom to manage the land they cultivated, as well as sell their products on the market. At the same time, China’s economy opened to foreign trade.

On January 1, 1979, the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China, and business contacts between China and the West began to grow. The same year, Deng undertook an official visit to the United States, meeting President Jimmy Carter in Washington, along with several congressmen. The Chinese insisted that ex-President Richard Nixon be invited to the formal White House reception, indicative of both their assertiveness and desire to continue with Nixon initiatives.

China’s outreach extended beyond the United States to Japan and to Western European countries such as Germany. Sino-Japanese relations improved significantly. Deng used Japan as an example of a rapidly progressing power that set a good economic example for China. Moreover, China invited European businesses to invest in their country.


photograph of a group of people
Deng Xiaoping (left) and his wife Zhuo Lin (right) are briefed by Johnson Space Center director Christopher C. Kraft (extreme right), 1979, author unknown. During the 1979 visit, Deng visited the Johnson Space Center in Houston as well as the headquarters of Coca-Cola and Boeing in Atlanta and Seattle, respectively. With these visits, Deng made it clear that the new Chinese regime’s priorities were economic and technological development.


Deng’s closest collaborators were Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang. Zhao Ziyang in 1980 relieved Hua Guofeng as premier, and Hu Yaobang in 1981 took the post of party chairman. Their goal was to achieve “four modernizations”, which focused on the economy, agriculture, scientific and technological development, and national defense. The last position of power retained by Hua Guofeng, chairman of the Central Military Commission, was taken by Deng in 1981.


Special Economic Zones


The basic state policy focused on the formulation and implementation of overall reforms and opening to the outside world. During the 1980s, the Chinese government established special economic zones(SEZs) and open coastal cities and areas, as well as designed open inland and coastal economic and technology development zones. SEZs were originally created in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, and Shantou in Guangdong Province and Xiamen in Fujian Province. In 1984, China opened 14 coastal cities to overseas investment.

Since 1980, China has established these SEZs—areas where the government of China establishes more free market-oriented economic policies and flexible governmental measures. This allowed SEZs to operate under an economic system that is more attractive to foreign and domestic firms than the economic policies in the rest of mainland China. Most notably, the central government in Beijing is not required to authorize foreign and domestic trade in SEZs, and special incentives are offered to attract foreign investors. Since 1988, mainland China’s opening to the outside world has been extended to its border areas along the Yangtze River and inland. The state also decided to turn Hainan Island into mainland China’s biggest special economic zone (approved in 1988) and enlarge the other four SEZs. Shortly after, the State Council expanded the open coastal areas and opened economic zones in seven geographical areas.

The five existing SEZs and other areas operating under a preferential economic system continues in China today. Primarily geared to exporting processed goods, the five SEZs are foreign trade-oriented areas which integrate science, innovation, and industry with trade. Foreign firms benefit from preferential policies, such as lower tax rates, reduced regulations, and special managerial systems.


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Deng Xiaoping and Jimmy Carter at the arrival ceremony, 1979, author unknown. On January 1, 1979, the United States recognized the People’s Republic of China, which meant abandoning the recognition of the Republic of China’s Nationalist government (Taiwan) as the sole Chinese authority. In late 1978, the aerospace company Boeing announced the sale of 747 aircraft to various airlines in the PRC and Coca-Cola made public their intention to open a production plant in Shanghai.


Capitalist Economy vs. Socialist System


China’s rapid economic growth under the socialist political system resulted in complex social developments. The 1982 population census revealed the extraordinary growth of the population, which already exceeded one billion people. Deng continued the plans initiated by Hua Guofeng to restrict birth to only one child under the threat of administrative penalty. This “one-child policy” was very controversial outside of China and challenged for violating a human right to determine the size of one’s own family. At the same time, increasing economic freedom emboldened a greater freedom of opinion and critics began to arise, including famous dissident Wei Jingsheng, who coined the term “fifth modernization” in reference to democracy as a missing element in the renewal plans of Deng Xiaoping.

In the late 1980s, dissatisfaction with the authoritarian regime and growing inequalities caused the biggest crisis to Deng’s leadership: the Tiananmen Square protests. Student-led demonstrations in Beijing in 1989 inspired this popular national movement. The protests reflected anxieties about the country’s future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The economic reforms benefited some groups but seriously disaffected others, and the one-party political system faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy, and restrictions on political participation. The students called for democracy, greater accountability, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, although they were loosely organized, and their goals varied. At the height of the protests, about a million people assembled in the Square.

As the protests developed, the authorities veered back and forth between conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership. By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support for the demonstrators around the country and the protests spread to some 400 cities. Ultimately, Deng Xiaoping and other party elders believed the protests to be a political threat and resolved to use force. Party authorities declared martial law on May 20 and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing. In what became widely known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre, troops with assault rifles and tanks killed at least several hundred demonstrators trying to block the military’s advance towards Tiananmen Square. The number of civilian deaths has been estimated between the hundreds and thousands.

The Chinese government was widely condemned internationally for the use of force at Tiananmen Square. Western countries imposed economic sanctions and arms embargoes. In the aftermath of the crackdown, the government conducted widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, and strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press. The police and internal security forces were strengthened. Officials deemed sympathetic to the protests were demoted or purged. More broadly, the suppression temporarily halted the policies of liberalization. Considered a watershed event, the protests also set the limits on political expression in China well into the 21st century.

Officially, Deng decided to retire from top positions when he stepped down as Chairman of the Central Military Commission in 1989 and retired from the political scene in 1992. China, however, was still in the era of Deng Xiaoping. He continued to be widely regarded as the “paramount leader” of the country, and he was believed to have backroom control. Deng was recognized officially as “the chief architect of China’s economic reforms and China’s socialist modernization.” To the Communist Party, he was believed to have set a good example for communist cadres who refused to retire at old age. He broke earlier conventions of holding offices for life. He was often referred to as simply Comrade Xiaoping, with no title attached.


The Growth of the Chinese Economy


By the early 21st century China’s socialist market economy was the world’s second largest economy after the United States based on its Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—the monetary value of all finished goods and services made within a country. Until 2015, China was the world’s fastest-growing major economy, with growth rates averaging 10% over 30 years. Due to historical and political facts of China’s developing economy, China’s public sector (government) accounts for a bigger share of the national economy than the expanding private sector.

China is a global hub for manufacturing and is the largest manufacturing economy in the world, as well as the largest exporter of goods in the world. It is also the world’s fastest growing consumer market and second largest importer of goods in the world. It is a net importer of services products and the largest trading nation in the world, playing the most important role in international trade. However, Western media have criticized China for unfair trade practices, including artificial currency devaluation, intellectual property theft, protectionism, and local favoritism, due to one-party control by the Communist Party of China and its socialist market economy.

China’s unequal transportation system—combined with important differences in the availability of natural and human resources and in industrial infrastructure—has produced significant variations in and disparities between the regional economies of China. Economic development has generally been more rapid in coastal provinces than in the interior. The three wealthiest regions are along the southeast coast. It is the rapid development of these areas that is expected to have the most significant effect on the Asian regional economy as a whole. Chinese government policy is designed to remove the obstacles to accelerated growth in these wealthier regions.


photograph of a man
A Chinese coal miner at the Jin Hua Gong Mine, photo by Peter Van den Bossche.


One of the hallmarks of China’s socialist economy was its promise of employment to all who were able and willing to work, along with job-security and virtually lifelong tenure. Reformers have targeted the labor market as unproductive because industries were frequently overstaffed to fulfill socialist goals and job-security reduced workers’ incentive to work. This socialist policy was pejoratively called the iron rice bowl.

Some of the major challenges facing China include battling corruption and other economic crimes, as well as sustaining adequate job growth for tens of millions of workers laid off from state-owned enterprises, migrants, and new entrants to the work force. Although the economic growth has resulted in the creation of a strong middle class, hundreds of millions remain excluded from its benefits and inequalities persist; an estimated 50 to 100 million rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-paying jobs. The large-scale underemployment in both urban and rural areas remain a source of concern for the government, as potential causes of popular resistance, as do changing price policies.

The prices of certain key commodities, especially of industrial raw materials and major industrial products, are determined by the state and large subsidies were built into the price structure. By the early 1990s, however, these subsidies began to be eliminated, in large part due to China’s admission into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, which came with requirements for further economic liberalization and deregulation. On a per capita income basis (income per person), China ranked 72nd in the world in 2015, according to the IMF.

In accordance with the One Country, Two Systems policy, the economies of the former British colony of Hong Kong and Portuguese colony of Macau are separate from the rest of China and each other. The United Kingdom and Portugal handed over these two regions to China in 1997 and 1999 by mutual agreement. Both Hong Kong and Macau are free to conduct and engage in economic negotiations with foreign countries, as well as participate as full members in various international economic organizations, often under the names “Hong Kong, China” and “Macau, China.” Both regions retain their own capitalist economic and political systems.


The Cult of Mao Zedong


After the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, retreat from his cult wasn’t immediate.  His immediate successor Hua Guofeng tried to continue China’s policy under the guidance of Mao by promoting the “Two Whatevers” policy: “We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave”. However, after Hua was ousted from power by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, Mao’s deeds were officially divided into good and bad in the ratio 7:3. Although the thought of Mao Zedong is still enshrined in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China as an ideological basis, China now follows the path of transformation, designated by  Deng  Xiaoping.  However, it seems that Mao Zedong has not disappeared completely.

In recent years Mao Zedong has gained a deity like status in some spheres. Mao Zedong himself remains a symbol affiliated with the New China, as a founder of the People’s Republic of China, and the Chinese version of both Lenin and Stalin in one person. He is still commonly referred to with great respect as Chairman Mao (Mao Zhuxi). As such, the Communist Party of China could not afford to condemn Mao’s deeds, as the Great Leap Forward or the Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution, because it would mean the rejection of huge part of the Party’s heritage. Since the 1980s the manifestations of sentimental attitude towards Mao are found among the poorer strata of society, as a symbolic opposition to the cult of money, individualism, and westernization, which are the results of Deng’s reforms.

The Maoists fought against religion as a feudal superstition, that should be removed from the social life of the new Chinese nation. Temples and monasteries were demolished, countless religious artifacts were destroyed, nuns and monks were sent to re-education or forced to go back to secular life. But in the last thirty years in an officially atheist China, a great come back of the belief in supernatural beings, the power of religious rituals, sacrifices for the spirits may be observed. Since the 1980s the authorities have helped to rebuild temples that serve as tourist attractions but also as a religious cult site, attracting a growing number of pilgrims. The revived interest in Buddhism, Taoism, syncretic sects, and Christianity has been noticeable.  Most of those religions or spiritual movements are acceptable, except those which might potentially jeopardize the authorities such as Falun Gong.

The cult of Mao is similar to a semi-religious cult. In ancient China, the Chinese emperor was a divine figure, the “Son of Heaven”.  Although there is nothing like a state temple of Mao Zedong, his image appears in a semi-religious context.  With his portrait visually dominating the Tiananmen gate, Mao Zedong had dominated the symbolic center of the People’s Republic of China during his life. After death, in the heart of China, in the central part of Tiananmen Square, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall was erected. This most imposing building is 57 thousand square meters in size.  Even though Mao signed the pledge to be cremated, the Politburo decided to permanently preserve his body. The mausoleum was constructed after his death, by engaging hundreds of thousands voluntary workers. It was built “with the unique national style”. The construction not only engaged people from all over China, but also materials from many provinces. Among the stones used to build the hall there were some brought from Mt. Everest, from Tangshan (which was struck by a massive earthquake few months earlier), and water and sand from the Taiwan Strait. Mao’s body, covered with the flag of the Communist Party of China, was placed in the crystal coffin, surrounded with national symbols.  Nowadays the Memorial Hall is open for public, and the admission is free. People still tend to line up to enter and pay tribute to the Chairman, bowing in the traditional Chinese manner and offering white flowers.

Throughout the whole country, the Chinese visit places connected with the Communist Party of China, the first generation of revolutionary leaders and, most of all, Chairman Mao. These tourists are often made of organized groups, such those from schools and companies. The destinations are promoted among young generations to arouse patriotism. China’s National Tourism Administration named year 2005 the “Year of Red Tourism” and issued a list of “30 choice red tourism routes” and “100 classic red tourism sites”.

On the trail of “red tourism” is the Shaoshan village (Hunan) where Mao was born; his family’s home has been preserved and transformed into a kind of sanctuary. The number of visitors to this village has increased from 3 million in 2005 to 6.5 million in 2010. The site is rarely visited by individual tourists, and if they come to Shaoshan by the public transport, they usually join the groups led by the local guides, which prevents them from missing any of the important sites at Shaoshan.

The aim of the visits to this site is to touch the greatness, and to perceive the very beginning of a great man. In Shaoshan village in the main hall of the Mao family ancestral temple on the central altar, there are tablets with names of the deceased family members, but the place is dominated by the bust of Mao Zedong. Tourists or pilgrims visiting the place show deep respect by bowing three times. The temple has also a souvenir shop, where all kinds of books, medallions, figurines of different size, post stamps, clocks, plaques, badges, shirts, pictures of Mao and revolutionary music, movies, documentaries are sold. After buying a souvenir, these may be “sacrificed” on the altar next to Chairman’s bust. Also, cigarettes and alcohol are being offered to the deceased. In the same temple, just behind the main altar, a small shop sells amulets in a form that resembles amulets found in Buddhist or Taoist temples – it is believed that they increase possessors’ luck and wealth. Tourists also visit the forest of steles and several stones, on which works of Chairman’s calligraphy are inscribed. On the route there is also a small temple dedicated to the Bodhisattva Guanyin, Goddess of Mercy, in which Mao’s mother used to pray. Although the temple was destroyed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, it was later rebuilt. Another obligatory site of the pilgrimage is the tomb of Mao Zedong’s parents. Here visitors pay respect, offer flowers, and pour a glass of alcohol. Finally, the highest point of the trip is to the family home of Mao, which was quite a rich peasant family homestead.  The furniture placed in it is said to come from Mao’s era.  Particularly noteworthy, are signs describing rooms, as “the place where Mao Zedong, as a little boy, used to help his mother with the housework” or “The table at which the family gathered for talks. Mao Zedong exhorted them to dedicate themselves to the liberation of the Chinese people.”

Shaoshan as a tourist destination reached a peak of popularity during the  Cultural Revolution, but even now the number of visitors is impressive. Entrance to all the sites is free in order to popularize “red tourism”. The media inform about official visits of the CPC leaders. This popularity creates many opportunities for the villagers to earn money. In order to protect their interests, they have already copyrighted the name “Shaoshan village”. Shaoshan, like other places associated with Mao Zedong, became a kind of popular Mao-land. Thus, tourists may find plenty of souvenirs and take a photo with a model of Mao. While visiting, they may have some rest in one of the restaurants and have lunch  containing  Mao’s  favorite  dishes,  typical of Hunan province. Eleven years after Mao’s death, one of his distant relatives, Tang Ruiren founded the Mao Jia  (Home  of  Mao)  Restaurant,  serving  Great  Helmsman’s  favorite  dishes. Twenty years later, Mao  Jia  Restaurants  operate  not  only  in  Shaoshan – in 2006 there were around 150 franchise restaurants in 20 provinces, and they had received tens of millions of Chinese and foreign guests, including party and state leaders. These restaurants serve dishes such as huobei y, bitter-tasting fish baked with chili pepper, which Mao described as helping people think only of the revolution, or hongshao rou, red braised pork belly with sweet caramelized flavour, as Mao believed  that  only  fatty  pork  provided  enough  nutrition  to  his  brain to win the battle. The restaurants specializing in Hunan cuisine, not only those of Tan Ruiren branch, are widespread throughout China, and it is common for them to place Mao’s images or his quotations as major elements of decoration. Sometimes even a sort of small altar with symbolic offerings may be found.

There has been official discussion about a national observance of the “founding father’s” birth, but even without official holiday status, the birth and death anniversaries of the Chairman have been celebrated annually by nostalgic Chinese, even if the anniversaries are not acknowledged by the authorities. In Shaoshan, villagers used to have birthday noodles for breakfast on Mao’s birthday every year. And the queue to visit Chairman Mao Memorial Hall extends longer than usual on these anniversaries, as people come to Beijing to pay respects. Furthermore, because of the expected anniversary traffic, the main square and the statue had been renovated.


Mao's Place in Modern Chinese Nationalism


Mao Zedong remains a revered figure as a symbol of Chinese nationalism even though the Chinese government in practice has moved away from Mao’s Marxist-Leninist ideology. When in 1978 Deng Xiaoping began the process of modernization, China stood at the beginning of profound transformations of the economic and social system, and some limited political changes. These reforms, along with the influx of Western ideas, as well as the passing of the first generation of Communist leaders and the tragic legacy of the Cultural Revolution, led to the erosion of this Maoist ideology, which, nonetheless, has been left in the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, as the core of the national ideology. Nevertheless, its real influence in social life is less significant. As a result, the legitimization of the Communist Party’s authority was endangered.

Chinese nationalism never existed in one form. It adopted various forms, depending on who the “engineers of the nation” were.  To maintain its legitimacy in a modern era, the Party had to seek an alternative to Maoism and its peculiar interpretation of Marxist-Leninism. Consequently, the Party has focused on nationalism. In recent decades nationalism has been deliberately used by the CPC to conduct its internal and external policies. Currently, China appears to be structured around a powerful, top-down nationalism influenced by the Communist Party of China and developed by the entire state apparatus, particularly through the education system and strictly controlled mass-media.  Media are channels for promoting nationalism, despite their multiplicity, and remain subject to the control of the Propaganda Department (responsible also for patriotic education), as well as self-censorship of journalists themselves. Nationalism is strongly supported by symbolism, traditions, national and state holidays, and national heroes. This type of nationalism can be regarded as continuity of the early Communist Party’s nationalism; though from the beginning of the PRC, it has changed. In the first period it was a highly chauvinistic class nationalism, which was not only against the external enemy but also many Chinese considered unworthy of being a part of the new Chinese nation. The right to belong to the nation was a result of identification with the communist revolution, and consequently, love for China was equal to love for the Party and Mao Zedong. That was a useful tool for political and class struggle. This nationalism recreated the proud Chinese nation, so called “New China”, reborn after “the century of humiliation” (from the Opium Wars until 1949).  Under the strong leadership, this nation was able to compete against the world powers. Nationalism was an instrument used by the Communist Party of China since its very beginning, but in the modernization period, it began to occupy a prominent place in the ideological framework of the country.  The CPC is being depicted as the sole force capable of protecting Chinese honor and defending Chinese interests in the international arena.  The Party, underscoring its contribution to the contemporary development of China, refers to the figure of Mao Zedong as the creator of the new state. Due to the popular sentiment for the old, idealized times, it was possible to strengthen the position of Mao Zedong not only as a national hero, but also as a kind of a deity in the nationalist ‘religion’.

Chinese nationalism is not limited to the nationalism of Communist Party. There is also a popular nationalism with slightly different characteristics. It is built on the strong sense of national humiliation and degradation. It is not so much about the “century of humiliation” that has passed, but about the contemporary humiliation experienced from the Japanese and Western politicians and organizations. According to these nationalists, the West refuses to recognize that China has changed and gained international importance and cannot be continuously depreciated.  There are some books focused on such an angry nationalism, like “China Can Say No. Political and Emotional Choices in the post-Cold-War era”. In these intellectual visions, the hostile elements intend to split China and undermine national economic strength, using smokescreens of human rights or freedom for Tibet.  Some of those sentiments are shared by young angry nationalists, who express themselves on the Internet. This approach may be seen as an extension of the “century of humiliation”, but its radicalism does not always suit the Party.  Popular nationalism is rich in a genuine sense of national pride, which can be defined as commonly understood patriotism, clearly visible especially among the Chinese during the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008.  This nationalism interacts with the policy of the CPC. It includes a growing global network of angry young Chinese nationalists, not only in the PRC, but also among the Chinese diaspora outside the country.

Their actions can be observed when Mao Zedong’s image is tarnished.  In addition to the official protection of Mao’s image, they undertake spontaneous actions on the Internet. Any attack on the Chairman is considered by the young nationalists as an attack on the whole of China. In January 2008 the Citroen advertisement campaign in Spain used a distorted portrait of Mao with face contorted in a grimace and eyes squinted. The advertisement provoked unrest in the Chinese Internet forums and was declared to be not only offensive to the Chairman, but also to the entire Chinese nation. Therefore, Citroen was forced to withdraw controversial posters and to issue an apology and acknowledgment of respect for the representatives and symbols of China.

In recent years there appeared a shift in an official image of Mao Zedong. He has been shown as a human being, much closer to the common people than ever before.  A new movie titled “Mao Zedong in Anyang” was produced.  It reveals a history of a romance between Mao and his first wife, Yang Kaihui.  The memoires of Mao’s bodyguard, Li Yinqiao, were printed entitled “Mao Zedong:  Man, Not God”. The publishing house advertises it as the “inside story of China’s dynamic leader and world statesman is told – the life and thought of Mao, the husband, father, comrade-in-arms, the peasant’s son”. Despite the title, Mao is presented as a superhuman, having a noble personality, and extremely courageous, risking his life for the revolution and for other comrades, but also as a sensitive altruist, with a sense of humor. Even while losing his temper, he was worth adoration, as that was a result of lack of sleep and his devotion and sacrifice for the Communist ideas. One of the stories in the book was about Mao seeing a child delirious with a fever. That provoked tears in Mao’s eyes, because as he explains “I can’t bear to see poor people cry. When I see their tears, I can’t hold back my own”. That is why he gave away the last bottle of penicillin for the ill child, despite his personal doctor’s objection. What is the mother’s reaction?” She dropped to her knees, saying sobbingly to Mao, ‘You’re a Buddha, a life-saving Buddha!’” It seems that the Chinese Communist leaders may have abandoned or revised the Mao Zedong thought during the last three decades, but they did not and will not dare to fully renounce Mao and his ideology. There might be changes in the way of officially showing the Chairman Mao, but it will not be possible to take him down from his pedestal. Even though the knowledge of Mao’s mistakes and faults is increasing in the Chinese society, the popular sentiment places him closer to supernatural power than a man in the street.

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