CPI(M) CADRE DELEGATION’S VISIT TO CHINA
M V Suma
A report on the visit of the CPI(M) cadre delegation led by Janardan Pati, member of the Central Committee of the Party, was published in People’s Democracy dated September 29-October 5, 2014. This article is specially on some of the historical places linked to Comrade Mao Zedong that the delegation visited in China. On September 20, the CPI(M) delegation visited Shaoshan village. Shaoshan is a beautiful small mountain village, about 100 kilometers south west of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province in China. Shaoshan is the birthplace of Chairman Mao Zedong and it was in this region that he spent his childhood and youth. Shaoshan is one of the important tourist centres in Hunan province. The first historical place the delegation visited in Shaoshan was Bronze Statue Square of Mao Zedong which was built on his 100th birth anniversary in 1993 and reconstructed on his 115th anniversary in 2008. The total area of the square is 100,000 square meters and the height of the statue is 10.1 meters. Residents of Shaoshan and tourists from China and abroad visit this historic place regularly. Clean air, good environment and resting places along the way are attracting local people as well as tourists in a big way. We were told that millions of people from all walks of life visited the Square after its construction. The most exciting event in the Square is the celebration of Chairman Mao’s birthday. It is a traditional practice of local residents of Shaoshan village, especially old people, that they arrive at the Square early morning, and spend time at the statue. Young couples after their marriage used to come to the Square to take blessings of Mao. Students for their better career also reach here for blessing. People also used to come to the Square for sharing their problems with Mao. Emotional scenes are often witnessed here. Sometimes the love for him is reflected in people weeping in front of Chairman Mao’s Statue. This is a regular scene in the Square, we are told. The visit to the Bronze Statue Square of Mao Zedong was a memorable event for our delegation. We placed a big flower bouquet at the statue of Chairman Mao and saluted him. While placing the bouquet at the statue, our comrades were inspired and started raising slogans both in English and Hindi. Thousands of people both local and visiting foreigners gathered around us while hearing our slogans. They were thrilled and the Chinese comrades who were with the delegation also told us that they were really inspired at that moment. Then the delegation visited the Memorial Museum of Mao Zedong located nearby the Statue Square. The museum was built and opened to the public in 1964 and has been upgraded later. Since then, millions of visitors have visited the memorial museum. In the museum, there are many historical materials reflecting Chairman Mao’s revolutionary experiences and life. The museum exhibits rare cultural relics, historical photos and 3D image shows of all walks of life of Chairman Mao. Starting with Chairman Mao’s personal images – photos of his family, his school, childhood, youth, village etc – all events of his political journey are also exhibited in the museum. His personal effects, bathrobes and suits, books, stationery and cooking utensils – all are displayed for public view. A statue of the Long March, the dresses he used during Long March, flag and national anthem chosen at first plenary session of the CPC, first Constitution of the PRC (Constitution of new China), the jeep he used to travel in, statues and photos of important meetings etc are also displayed in a systematic way. We could hear his recorded speeches using headphones. A visitor can also page through electronic texts by waving hands over a book-shaped screen. The photograph of 1954 with the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was also displayed in the museum. The way everything is presented brings the visitor so close to the life and work of this revolutionary hero and the founding father of People’s Republic of China. Then the delegation proceeded to the former residence of Chairman Mao located at Shangwu Ground in Shaoshan village. It is in this house that Chairman Mao born in 1893, spent his childhood and youth. The fairly beautiful scenery and typical village atmosphere attracted the delegation very much. The long queue of visitors even at the odd time also surprised the delegation. The people carrying small children in their hands and school children were patiently waiting in the queue for their turn. The house is of sunny yellow, mud brick walls and tile roofed. Inside the house we saw the photos of his family and his own life events, household utensils, farm tools, shoulder pole, bucket and hoe which were used by Chairman Mao during his young age for helping his father. There are 13 rooms in the house and the central room was used by Mao’s family as well as his neighbours. The surrounding area of the house is also very attractive. Entered through a country yard, it looks like a normal house of a farmer. In the front side, there are rice fields and pools; back side, there is a hill with many trees; left side, there is a vegetable field; and in the right side, there are vegetable and rice fields. The entire residence and surrounding area was maintained in such a way to keep the originality of an older day village house. The things used for households were maintained in such a way that we realised how simple his life was. The traditional way of life of older China could be felt by the delegates while seeing the bedroom, kitchen, paddy storage room etc. We were told that now hundreds of households in Shaoshan village are earning income by running restaurants, inns and selling badges and statues of Chairman Mao. Many people are naming their businesses linked with Mao. Every house in the village has a statue or photo of Chairman Mao in their living room. Statues of Chairman Mao are present in all college campuses in China and public areas. The delegation also got the opportunity to see the huge stone bust of young Mao unveiled in December 2009 in the Orange Island, which is in the middle of Xiangjiang river. Orange Island is the world’s longest inland river island. Chairman Mao Zedong often went here in his younger age. He wrote his famous poem Changsha sitting on this island in 1925. The statue of Mao Zedong in the island is 32 meters in height, 83 meters in length and 41 meters in width. The delegation was really delighted while standing in front of Chairman Mao’s huge statue. On the last day in China, the delegation visited Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, known as Mao Mausoleum, in Beijing. This popular attraction is located in the middle of Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the capital of China. Mao Mausoleum is the final resting place of Chairman Mao. The body of `Great Helmsman’ is kept in a crystal coffin for public viewing in the memorial hall. The pin drop silence in the hall showed how respectfully people pay their tribute to Chairman Mao. Our delegation also paid its respectful homage to Chairman Mao. The long queue, even in the early morning of a working day in China, in the entrance of Memorial Hall surprised us. The beautiful surroundings with statues and sculptures around the hall also attracted the delegation very much. All these show that even 38 years after his death, Chairman’s Mao’s spirit is the biggest source of strength for the people of China, even among the new generations.