Why it is important to remember Chairman Mao Zedong

Updated: 2013-12-25 06:58

By Leung Lap-yan (HK Edition)

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A range of social groups in Hong Kong organized an exhibition recently to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong. The event attracted the attention of many people.

Mao occupies an unequaled place in the hearts of Chinese people, but remains a controversial figure in Hong Kong. When news of his death broke in September 1976, TV news anchor Lau Ka-kit said, "Hong Kong residents cried together". This drew criticism from some corners of local society. Nevertheless, Mao Zedong was undoubtedly a great man with considerable influence internationally. As the late Pakistani Prime Minister Bhutto once commented: "A person like Mao Zedong probably emerges only once in a century or maybe a millennium. They take center stage and write new chapters in human history with their genius."

Although Hong Kong was still a British colony when Mao passed away, his vision left a lasting impact on Hong Kong for decades to come. He always maintained that Hong Kong was part of Chinese territory and believed in a policy of "maintaining the status quo of, planning far ahead for, and making full use of (Hong Kong)." This approach gave Hong Kong the opportunity to develop and prosper. The city should be grateful to Mao for what it has become today.

Mao remains an extraordinary genius to many people. He was a thinker, a theorist, a military strategist, a philosopher, a calligrapher and a poet. As if all these were not impressive enough, his broad-mindedness and vision were even more awe-inspiring. When Qin Yuan Chun, Snow, a poem Mao wrote in 1936, was first published in October 1945 it sent shockwaves through China and astonished Chiang Kai-shek, then leader of the National Government of China and chief of the Kuomintang. Chiang searched among nationalists with literary abilities at the time, but he could find no one who could match Mao's standard. It is safe to say Mao put the entire Kuomintang to shame with just one poem! This poem presents such a grand vision little wonder the nationalists were eventually defeated by the communists.

Great men are different from ordinary people, not just because of their capabilities and contributions, but because of their great charisma and character. For example, both Guan Yu and Zhao Yun were renowned commanders during the Three Kingdoms period (220-280 AD) and Zhao was just as accomplished in literature, and militarily and morally as Guan. Moreover, Zhao was seen as almost being perfect, whereas Guan made many big mistakes. But who knew back then Zhao would be remembered only for his bravery and martial art prowess, while Guan would be revered like a god by posterity? The same can be said of Mao - who lives on in many Chinese people's hearts and remains an eternal inspiration to people around the world.

"Mao Zedong has emerged in China." This is a line from a well-known song in praise of the great Chinese leader. Mao will always be the pride of the nation. For through his great achievements he blazed a trail for China to become the country that it is today.

The author is a current affairs commentator.

(HK Edition 12/25/2013 page1)