Just days after its completion, a 120-ft gold-painted statue of the former China Communist Party leader, Mao Zedong, has been removed from China’s countryside, state media reported.
Officials at the site where the statue was located claimed that the structure had not been registered, nor approved, by local officials, but has now been removed from the Zhughigang village located in Henan’s Tongxu county.
Along with the fact that the individuals responsible for putting up the statue did not abide by the appropriate government procedures to construct the massive structure, public influence may have had a say in the decision to have it removed.
As the completion of the Mao Zedong statue neared, critics and disgruntled citizens throughout the world brought the issue center stage, stating the irony of erecting a statue of the man who brought famine to the same region where the statue was being constructed during the late 1950s (Mao’s Great Leap Forward).
Citizens also criticized the misuse of resources and money that was being used to construct the 120-foot statue that instead could have been directed towards improving conditions in the Zhughigang village, one of China’s poorest regions.
The New York Times reported that residents of the Zhughigang village where the statue was being constructed took note of demolition teams that arrived Thursday morning to deconstruct the gold-painted statue of the former communist leader. By Friday morning, according to their reports, “only a pile of rubble remained.”
The villagers informed The Times that “public security officials and groups of unidentified men in olive green greatcoats brusquely turned away visitors and blocked road access to the site.”
The villagers claimed that the statue was taken down by orders from provincial officials and the guards who showed up to prevent entry to the site were sent by officials in Tongxu county, which includes Zhushigang.
Though, as mentioned earlier, many believe the decision to bring down the statue was to maintain a respectable global image and appease international critics that do no stand behind the Zedong’s past.
The giant statue of China’s late leader cost nearly 3 million yuan ($460,000) and was paid for by a local businessman by the name of Sun Qingxin, who is the deputy chairman of the County People’s Congress Standing Commitee, a powerful local position.
The power held in the region by Mr. Qingxin gives reason to believe why the businessman assumed he could construct a statue to pay homage to his late leader, Mao Zedong, despite not receiving approval from government officials.
A homage that, unlike the late leaders reign on China, did not last long.
Mao Zedong is long considered the principal architect of the new China and the individual who led his county’s communist revolution. Portraits and statues of the late leader still stand and serve strong meaning throughout the nation.
Current president Xi Jinping has often praised Mao as a model for the China of today, declaring that “Mao’s era was one when officials were selfless and honest,” doing whatever it took to ascend China into a global powerhouse.
But Mao’s policies weren’t always favorable. His Great Leap Forward, which forced agricultural collectivization and industrialization, left tens of millions without food in China, which ultimately led to death throughout the nation.
And despite those facts, locals have admitted that several villagers cried when the statue was removed Thursday, highlighting the strong grasp history and those in power have had over the citizens of China.
[AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko]