27 Dec 2013

120th anniversary of birth of Mao marked in China

4:59 am on 27 December 2013

Celebrations were held in China on Thursday to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.

Visitors queue outside the Mao Zedong mausoleum in Beijing.

Visitors queue outside the Mao Zedong mausoleum in Beijing. Photo: AFP

President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were among those to visit the Mao mausoleum in Beijing to pay their respects.

Thousands queued through the night near his childhood home in Shaoshan, Hunan, to see a huge fireworks display which is reported to have lasted four hours.

Many more made the pilgrimage to the village to mark the anniversary.

Members of the Politburo Standing Committee also visited Mao's mausoleum on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

However, the BBC reports there was no mention of Mao's birthday on the front page of the party's official paper.

Correspondents say Chinese politicians have to balance their praise of Mao with an appreciation that some of his policies had disastrous consequences.

Millions died during the Great Leap Forward, when attempts to collectivise farms coincided with a massive drought. And many more were purged or killed during the Cultural Revolution.

Mao led the republic for 27 years until his death in 1976. Since 1978, party leaders have moved away from most of his policies.