Mao legacy lives on in rural China
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 14:52
Nashan: It is perhaps an open theatre like nowhere else in the world as it comes alive every night recapturing the spirit of China's ruling CPC's early uprising led by its founder Mao Zedong.

The unique theatre, which has a sprawling lake attached to it with vast expanse of land surrounded by mountains, performs the same play every night based on Mao's early struggle against Kuomintang and local landlords in 1927.

Kuomintang, the then nationalist party headed by Chiang Kai Sheik, was regarded as a group of reactionaries by Mao, who vanquished it completely, driving its leaders and cadre to Taiwan.

The theatre presents the play using live ammunition, modern lighting and sound effects with over 600 actors, mostly drawn from local village, emerging from the bushes and rocks with red flags, enthralling perhaps a few thousand audience who come from nooks and corners of China, to just get a feel of it.

The lead actor playing Mao's role appears with a slogan "Comrades, let us unite for the last time for a better tomorrow," sending a subtle message that the revolution was not over, even after the 62-year rule by CPC.

In a way, it was a unique experience for a group of Beijing-based foreign correspondents to watch this show as CPC celebrates the 90th anniversary of its founding this year to drum up the sagging revolutionary spirit of Mao's era.

Though CPC moved away from Mao's hardline Marxist polices over three decades ago to embrace more liberal economic ideology of his successor Deng Xiaoping, his legacy lingered on as party grappled to deal with the growing rich-poor divide, a by-product of its economic reforms.

The spirit of Mao is very dominant in this Jianxi province as he launched its early struggle from its famous Jingganshan mountain ranges.

On the lush green mountains, his look alike is still cashing on Mao's legacy, charging 50 Yuan (USD seven) for a photograph from tourists.

But barely five-hour drive from here to Nanchang, the scene dramatically changes.

Nanchang, in the recent past, had a contrasting history as it was caught between the legacy of Zhou Enlai, the former Prime Minister who remained steadfast follower of Mao, and that of Deng, the moderate.

The bustling city flaunting its affluence with countless multi-story buildings, expansive roads and flyovers has contrasting museums of both Zhou and Deng.

While it was Zhou, who won a major victory against Kuomintang forces in 1927 which lead to the birth of Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), Deng was exiled here to a tractor machine tool factory by Mao, denouncing him as a "capitalist roader" for questioning his cultural revolution and advocating economic reforms.

The tractor tool factory was converted into a museum carefully preserving the painful three years Deng spent as a "fitter" there along with wife and five children, including his handicapped son, who later became the Vice Chairman of the National People's Congress.

"It is perhaps a difficult period of our revolutionary history. Though Deng was sent here to spend time with ordinary workers, care was taken by Mao that his physical safety and bare needs were taken care of," an official, who guided the foreign media around the place, said while declining to identify herself.

In contrast, however, Zhou's "Nanchang Uprising Memorial," a 1920s star hotel which was converted into party headquarters and living quarters of the former Prime Minister had an affluent look.

Though caught up in purges, Deng the survivor took control of the party after Mao's death and came up with a new ideological line, "Socialism with Chinese characteristics," which largely meant widespread economic reforms under the Marxist framework of the party.

Deng's line changed the face of China, which last year emerged as the second largest economy, while CPC basked in its glory.

CPC officials say both Mao and Deng were the pillars of China's success in their own way.

While Mao laid foundation with his revolutionary polices, Deng brought about economic stability and progress, Zhou Guan, Vice Mayor and senior party official of Nanchang, said highlighting CPC's ability to keep up with times.


First Published: Wednesday, June 22, 2011, 14:52

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