12/27/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Xi Jinping: Mao was not a god , but his spirit ...

Marking the 120th birthday of Mao Zedong, Xi seeks middle ground between right and left . Silence shrouds failures of Great Helmsman as well as much promised political reforms . The Party is concerned about its durability.

Beijing ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - Mao Zedong "was not a god", but " his spirit" still lives on in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP ); this is the main theme of the speech given by President Xi Jinping, secretary general of the Communist Party in the Great hall of the People, after paying homage to the embalmed body of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen square mausoleum and bowing three times ( Koutou ) in front of a large statue of the Helmsman. December 26 is the day when we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the man who led China unity and independence.

"The revolutionary leaders - said Xi - are men, not gods .. We should not worship them as gods ... but we should not forget them completely [just] because they have made ​​mistakes ."

The party, he added, should embrace the "spirit" of Mao's thought - which includes the class struggle and revolution - in order to guarantee the continuation of the government even after 60 years.

While talking about "mistakes," Xi Jinping did not mention either the Great Leap Forward or the Cultural Revolution, which caused the death of tens of millions of Chinese from hunger or strife .

The appeal to the "spirit" of Mao - typical of all Chinese leaders that have come after him - seems to be a justification for the policies that Xi is following, which includes a clear anti-corruption line within the party and its need to be closer to the "feeling of the masses" .

"All the diseases that could damage the party's advanced nature and purity should be seriously treated, and all the tumours that breed on the healthy skin of the party should be resolutely removed ".

The Party is increasingly divided between a liberal wing, that would like to get rid of the dominant ideology and open up to political and economic reforms in Chinese society; and a Maoist wing, which wants to maintain the monopoly of power by blocking all reform. But there is also a third group caught between these two positions, composed of intellectuals and populace that exalts the days of Mao , in particular for values ​​of equality and concern for the poor and blames the Party for enriching itself at the expense of the people having created one of the most unequal societies in the world.

Xi, who continues to extol Mao and his revival, at the same time loudly promises sweeping economic reforms. In his speech yesterday, there was no mention of any political reform.

Pu Xingzu, political scientist at Fudan University (Shanghai), interviewed by the South China Morning Post said that the emphasis of Xi's speech "are a response to recent debates between left and right. Xi is sending a message that he won't follow the old path of Maoism nor go astray towards Western democracy".

"Mao had been questioned before whether he could end the cycle of changing dynasties and Xi is clearly troubled by the same question," Pu said. "The Communist Party has ruled China for more than six decades, but is still faced with the question of whether its rule will last. The situation now is even more challenging, with new scenarios".

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