12/22/2003, 00.00
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Communist party clings to Maoist faith

Beijing (AsiaNews) –  Pop, folk and traditional Peking opera singers will perform at a huge concert organized by the Communist Party to commemorate the 110th anniversary of president Mao Zedong's birth, which falls on Dec. 26.

The concert is one of many activities foreseen by the Central Propaganda Department to heighten patriotic sentiments and to increase support for the Communist Party, ever the more explicitly accused of having betrayed the egalitarian ideals of Mao Zedong.

On Saturday Dec. 20, representatives from Shaoshan,"Zhuxi" (President) Mao's hometown, led a procession to bring a little 10 cm high gold statuette to his mausoleum in Tiananmen square. Reproductions of the small statue will be sold at 203,000 yuan (25,000 euro).

The mausoleum, erected in the center square's center in simple Soviet style, preserves the body of president Mao in a glass case . His corpse, often a pilgrimage destination, remains in tact thanks to mummification techniques dating back to the times of Egyptian pharaohs.

In addition to the gold statue, 5000 sets of Mao's writing in gold calligraphy are ready for sale in stores, containing the president's own poems in the 18-page editions. Each copy costs 18,600 yuan (about 2400 euro).

The Central Propaganda Department and the State Administration of Press and Publications together have decided on a collection of 67 books to be published for the celebrations. Mao Zedong's biographies are already filling bookstores in Beijing, with best-sellers written by Mao's descendents. Meanwhile, the State Postal Bureau has produced 4 commemorative stamps and television stations have programmed 13 films to be aired on the president's life, in addition to a 6-part documentary on the subject.  

In recent years the Communist Party has ever the more distanced itself from Mao's ideals. The admittance of red capitalists in the management of power, the defence of private property, and the economic openness to wild capitalism have all led to miserable conditions among the millions of fired workers as well as to the cancelling of funds for healthcare and welfare.

For many, Mao has become an ideal, a god to pray to, but above all a way of criticizing the current government. In China's heartland, the abuses and corrupt activities of "comrades" have led to a 75% drop in Communist Party enrolment, to attacks on party headquarters and violent clashes between farmers and police.    

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