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Introducing Sháoshān

Unassuming Sháoshān, about 130km southwest of Chángshā, looms monumentally as Mao Zedong’s birthplace. Three million pilgrims once traipsed here each year (including Mao himself on a return visit in 1959), and a railway line and paved road from Chángshā were laid. Mao’s death and Cultural Revolution excesses slowed things, but that didn’t stop a statue of the Great Helmsman being erected in Sháoshān in 1993 (the skies ominously darkening when it was unveiled) and huge battalions of tour groups still earmark the village for obligatory obeisance on communist heritage tours.