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Look-a-like Chairman Mao stirs debate
By He Na (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-21 05:46

CHANGCHUN: Although many said Chairman Mao Zedong would live on after his death in 1976, few would have expected to find him providing wedding entertainment nearly 30 years later.

But the late Chairman is becoming a familiar site in Changchun, capital of Northeast China's Jilin Province.

A shopper flips through a new book on the late Chairman Mao Zedong at a bookstore in Shanghai December 20, 2003. Various events including exhibitions, concerts and movies are being organized to mark the 110th anniversary of Mao's birthday on December 26. [AP]

A Mao look-a-like has become the most recent must-have accessory for weddings in the city.

With his theme tune, "East is Red," which has always been associated with the late leader, Li Shouxin makes his entrance at wedding banquets dressed in a blue Mao suit.

In his 50s, Li has been a typecast actor for 25 years with the provincial drama troupe. His exceptional resemblance to the late leader made him famous with locals.

At weddings, Li begins with a typical Mao-style wave to guests before greeting people in the strong Hunan brogue of the leader's home province. He then invites the happy couples' parents to speak and tells anecdotes about the newlywed.

"My grandparents are veteran soldiers from the Red Army, and my father is also a PLA soldier. Our family has a deep connection to the great man. By hiring Li we made the wedding a unique and unforgettable experience," said one of Li's clients.

Li started the sideline about eight years ago when a friend's son invited him to be the emcee for his wedding.

After that, the idea caught on and many more couples invited Li. He now goes to five or six weddings every month, charging 500 yuan (US$61) a time, and is busier during holidays.

But while those making use of Li's service say it is an opportunity to cherish the memory of the former Chinese leader, others feel a little awkward about it.

"Chairman Mao is my most respected person. To dress up in his image and preside over weddings hurts people's feeling towards the great man," Ren Shuzhen, a 69-year-old woman, said.

(China Daily 10/21/2005 page3)

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