An enormous gold statue of chairman Mao has appeared in the Henan province of China, erected by admiring villagers and local business people.
The statue is situated in the midst of the countryside around Keifang city, standing 36 metres tall among the deserted fields. Its said to have cost 3 million yuan, or £312,000. Locals began building the statue last March and have worked on it since, putting together and mounting the structure that is made out of concrete, steel, and gold paint according to a Henan news website. The statue has attracted some criticism on Weibo, China’s microblogging website, where commenters suggested that the money could have been spent to alleviate the poverty of the region.
Mao Zedong established China’s communist party which has ruled the country since 1949. Under the “Great Leap Forward” the most ambitious of his campaigns for innovation, 45 million people in the Henan province are said to have died in the famine it caused, as the PRC attempted to accelerate the industrialisation process. Today, Henan province remains one of the poorest regions in the country. Yet, the statue at Keifang is a commemorative statue that serves to celebrate the achievments of the great ‘helmsman’.
Liu Jianwu, the dean of China’s Mao Zedong research centre, told the Guardian that the statue was a symbol of Mao’s continued popularity among rural regions of China.
“In contemporary China, Mao Zedong represents the embodiment of fairness and justice,” Liu said. “In the hearts of ordinary people, Mao represents fairness and justice. So people hold these kinds of emotions towards him.”
But even he admits that perhaps the size was a little over the top – “There is no need to build such a big statue and I do not suggest people imitate this either.” So copycats be warned.