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Beijing voices: Mao remembered

Thirty years after the death of Mao Zedong, China has changed immeasurably.

After his death there was a bitter power struggle inside the Chinese Communist Party, a political upheaval which led to immesurable economic and social change.

As the anniversary approached, Al Jazeera's Bei

Last Modified: 08 Sep 2006 11:05 GMT

Thirty years after the death of Mao Zedong, China has changed immeasurably.

After his death there was a bitter power struggle inside the Chinese Communist Party, a political upheaval which led to immesurable economic and social change.

As the anniversary approached, Al Jazeera's Beijing correspondent, Tony Cheng, asked residents of the Chinese capital for their thoughts on the man and his legacy for the world's most populous nation.

A representative selection of their comments is reproduced below:

"Mao was a great leader, and we love him a lot. He made a great contribution to China, but he also made some mistakes.

"Deng Xiaoping helped the economy more that Mao, but Mao did many things to contribute to the stability and peace of china.

"It's unfair to blame Mao alone for the Cultural Revolution. Everyone makes mistakes, and Mao was pretty old by that stage. Without him there would be no China."

"The good things and the bad things that Mao did are 50/50. He founded China, and won a lot of wars - anti Japanese, Korean, civil war. But he made a lot of mistakes about the construction of the economy.

"In that respect Deng [Xiaoping] was much better. Today everyday we watch TV and see many wars in the Middle East and the rest of the world, but the Chinese people enjoy peace, so we should attribute that to Mao."

"Without Mao there would be no new China. He was the greatest new leader. He liberated China, but now many people criticise him. It's not fair to Mao, and it's not right according to the facts. Mao made some mistakes, but there were good reasons for it. During the Cultural Revolution, some leaders challenged him, so it was very natural for him to defend himself.

"If you look at nowadays, there's much more corruption than during Mao's time. During Mao's time, everybody helped each other. Today people enjoy more in terms of material benefits, but spiritually it's not as good as it used to be."

"When I was a child I remember we were often hungry. During Mao's time there was more land and fewer people but people still couldn't get enough to eat. The economy was very underdeveloped. Nowadays we have many more people, but less land, but we can eat much better now.

"The Cultural Revolution was a big setback. I was born in 1962 and as a kid we had nothing to eat, and we didn't have a chance to go to school ... we had to go to the countryside. Later it was very difficult for people of our generation to get a job."

"I admire Mao very much. I heard a lot about him from my father and grandpa. Mao is a great ideologist but Deng Xiaoping did a better job of building up the economy.

"The biggest legacy he left is China's population. He didn't impose a birth-control policy, and that caused a very big problem for China. Even though he made a lot of mistakes he was still a great leader for China."

"He was a great leader.

"He made some mistakes in the Cultural Revolution, but nobody's perfect.

"He made a great contribution to China, but personally I prefer the leaders of today."

Source:
Aljazeera
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