A giant golden statute of Mao Zedong, the father of modern China, was taken down within a week of its unveiling. The statute not only managed to draw worldwide attention, but attracted scathing criticism for the seemingly frivolous expenditure incurred. The official reason put forth for the abysmally short time the statute stayed is it lacked the proper approvals from concerned authorities.
A golden 120-foot-tall Mao Zedong statue, erected in rural central China, is being hastily torn down. The giant statue, dubbed “Mega Mao,” was reportedly constructed of steel and concrete, and then painted entirely in gold (the color, not the metal!). According to China’s official state media, the Mao statue was built after a few businessmen and some rural communities pooled nearly 3 million Yuan ($459,000) to build the giant tribute.
The partially destroyed statue stood at its majestic height of 36.6 meters (120 feet) for just a week, despite being in construction for little over nine months. The construction completed in December and the demolition was ordered in the first week of January. However, before its destruction, the Mega Mao had managed to attract more than its fair share of compliments and criticism on Chinese social media platforms, reported CNN.
There have been many theories behind the abrupt demolition of the Mao statute. However, the most commonly touted one is the power of the social media that seemingly compelled the Chinese government to order the destruction of Mega Mao. The sudden dismantling of the giant Mao statue, which had been erected on a farmland in central Henan Province, followed a social media firestorm of criticism, reported USA Today.
China’s hugely popular social media site, Weibo, witnessed intense debates about the statute. While many called the statute an embarrassment, others took a more patriotic stand, calling out, “Long live Chairman Mao!” Many of the users argued that anyone who wished to erect a giant Mao statue from their own pockets was free to do so, but if the edifice was erected with Government money, then there ought to be an investigation into the frivolous and exorbitant expenditure, reported the New York Daily News.
The primary sponsor of the giant Mao statue was identified as Sun Qingxin. The local businessman is a huge success and heads a conglomerate that manufactures machinery and owns hospitals, schools, and food-processing plants. However, he is known throughout the region for his love for Mao statues, said a local potato farmer, who helped identify the benefactor.
“He is crazy about Mao. His factory is full of Maos.”
While the statue had been demolished because it lacked approval from local government officials, confirmed the authorities, many secretly worry about the deification of the revolutionary leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China. Ever since Mao’s death in 1976, people have increasingly revered him, and there have been numerous instances of Mao worship.
In fact, officials in China are concerned rural Chinese people have always perceived Mao as a god and spiritual leader. There are quite a few temples of Mao scattered throughout rural China. While there’s no law prohibiting Mao’s worship, it is the overzealous approach by his devotees that’s become troublesome in recent times, noted Chinese President Xi Jinping,
“We cannot worship (revolutionary leaders) as gods just because they are great people, not allowing others to point out and correct their errors and mistakes.”
Ironically, the region in which the giant Mao statue was erected is considered one of the greatest failures of the leader. The Henan Province was one of the biggest victims of acute famine that was caused by the controversial “Great Leap Forward” program in the late 1950s. Needless to say, the famine resulted in the death of millions due to starvation, forcing thousands of survivors to migrate to other regions.
[Photo by ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images]