Street Talk

Updated: 2011-07-31 08:30

(China Daily)

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What does Chairman Mao mean to the Chinese today? Liu Yujie finds out from the tourists outside his Mausoleum in Tian'anmen.

"It was one night, two years ago. We were off work early that day so I asked my friend if Tian'anmen was very far from where we were. She said no, so we took a bus there. I was so excited I couldn't stop crying. I finally saw Chairman Mao! I called my family back home and they were as excited as I was."

Liu Shaoyun, late 30s, remembering the first time she visited Tian'anmen and saw the Chairman's giant portrait on the wall of the Forbidden City.

"All the country folks my age still consider going to Beijing a big issue. At least once in a lifetime, one should go and have a look. When Chairman Mao died in 1976, I had just given birth but I cried so hard for days, although the elderly folks persuaded me not to for the sake of my health."

Liu's mother, 60, on her first visit to Beijing.

"I feel proud that Chairman Mao and I both come from Hunan province. This is my second time visiting Chairman Mao's Memorial Hall, but I still feel excited."

Zhu Bing, Liu's son, a high school student.

"Teachers told us Chairman Mao is a great man. After seeing him with my own eyes, I can now tell the difference between the 'real' and the 'fake' Chairman Mao."

Li Yi, 9, a third-grader, who was visiting the Mausoleum on a school excursion with her classmates from Hohhot.

"I can't deny that particular historical period is fading in our memories. It is impossible to make us young people feel the same way our parents and grandparents felt about Chairman Mao. But I still think it is important to keep historical buildings and statues in good condition so that future generations can have a direct perception of history."

Yao Liang, 27, a post-graduate student at Beijing Normal University.