“Let’s go see Mao”

“Let’s go see Mao.” My sister said to me today as I woke up from my room.

Mao Zedong, the communist leader of China, who reigned from 1945-1976, whose face is on the front gate of the Forbidden city and every piece of currency in the country.

Some call Mao a dictator, some call him a savior, some call him a most unjust man, whose policies killed millions of people, who took away Tibet. Some call him the one who united China, who brought China to the greater world. Whatever he is to whoever, he is still honored around the country, and in the center of Tian’amen square is a Mausoleum with Mao resting, cryogenically frozen and lifted up for display to the public every day except Monday.

Back when I came to China in 2002, it was 10 USD to come see him. I heard the body might be fake, so I decided not to walk through the Mausoleum. Now that I am back and it’s free, my curiosity is asking “what the heck does this look like??”

It’s kinda creepy to have a body of a man, a leader who died over 35 years ago and whose leadership was controversial still be honored and revered. I recognize the amount of propaganda the Chinese received throughout the past 60 years and after Mao died, though his policies were reversed and his strongest opponent, Deng Xiopeng, succeeded him, he wasn’t burnt, or had his face removed from all public arenas. His statue did not come tumbling down, he remained a figure. Fascinating.

Some would say his ideals and figurehead kept a nation of over a billion people together. I mean, what WOULD happen, if China as a whole fully rebelled and sought new ways of living, new ways of freedom and dare I say justice? I’m not an expert nor a Chinese historian, so maybe unleashing China could be chaotic, hurtful and many could die. Whatever could happen is a spectulation, what is happening, is that tens of thousands of people come every day to see his body in the
Mausoleum.

It was like Disney on crack. There were thousands of people in line, all moving at a moderate pace, as you cannot sit and stare at the resting place of Mao. You cannot take any photos, no lighters, no heavy objects, no weapons. You can purchase a white flower for 3 quai (50 cents) to lay down at his statue before walking into the room where he lays.

What a trip. My sis almost didn’t want to go once she saw the spectacle of this massive line wrapping around the building with people in suits and white gloves holding mini megaphones telling you how to behave yourself and what not to bring in as you go in. You need to show valid ID, you cannot bring in cameras, etc…

As we walked in, many laid down these white flowers at the statue. From my eye, i’d say 1/6 of the masses of the people were buying these and then as they entered, they would do a short bow and lay a flower at a flower cart before a giant white statue of Mao seated. People of all ages were doing this. Parents were bringing their children. Was my perception and information of Mao wrong and false? Had he not killed millions of people during the Cultural Revolution from 1966-76? Had he not unjustly taken Tibet in 1959? There could still be a lot for me to learn..

As we walked in the Mausolem room, there were two guards in the front of a glass enclosed room. In front of the room was two fire extinguishers. Guess somebody tried to set this place on fire at one time. In the glass room was another glass case with Mr. Mao laying down, an eerie orange light glowing down on his face and a red flag with a sickle and hammer laying over the casket. As I looked closely at the face, I recognized it had to be a fake. I’ve been to wax museums before, and if this body has been preserved for 35 years, his face would most definitely be sagging a lot more. It was a weird scene.

My sister and I concluded that it couldn’t of been the real Mao under the casket. And if that were true, then WHY is China deceiving all these millions of chinese that come in every year to see his body?? Deception is a part of life here in this country, but I didn’t think it would be on this scale.

Maybe it’s an ideal to live up to, maybe it’s to continue to have his legacy live on. Maybe it’s to keep the powers that be in power, and keep a nation intact. I’m sorry, but I don’t have the highest respect for this man after reading my history. Is my history true? Please comment~

I think it would be difficult to allow this Mausoleum removed, though the mausoleum does say it is a place to honor former leaders of China. Who knows? Maybe someone else will replace Mao in time.

I think I will ask some locals what they think of Mao yesterday and today. What about the youth? This still is a communist nation with secret police, so I’ll be sensitive. But this nation is changing and in a way “awakening.”

Ciao for now~

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