BEIJING - A development company in southern China has apologized for damaging a statue of late Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong while relocating it last month.
The developer, Yilong Urban Construction Investment Company in Wenchang, Hainan province, was organizing the relocation of the 9.9-meter-high white marble statue on Feb 19 when it fell into pieces.
Interest in the issue grew rapidly on the Internet and generated an outcry before the local government required the developer to make a public apology.
Yao Liqi, who is in charge of construction at the company, said on Wednesday that Yilong had posted an apology letter on its website.
In the letter, the company said inexperienced workers and a lack of protective measures caused the damage to the statue, which was made of several carved pieces of marble put together.
The company had planned to relocate the seaside statue to a park about 40 km away to make way for a luxury hotel to be built on the site.
The statue was built by a company called Kangsheng in 2008 and many people visited it to show respect to the late leader, although reports said the setup of the statue had not been approved.
Yang Yan, the organizer for the relocation, told China News Service that workers were frightened after the accident and didn't ship off the destroyed pieces. The fragments were left there for six days.
Yang said he was willing to rebuild the statue.
Experts said such carelessness should be avoided when it involves a leader who is held in high regard in China.
"The developers should work properly even if they meant to tear down the statue," said Wang Tingyou, a researcher in socialism at Renmin University of China.
"Mao represents the sovereign authority in many hearts in China, so any developer should be careful dealing with Mao's statues in public places," he said.