A few days after the New Year news sources reported on the near completed construction of a 120 foot (37 meter) statue of Mao Zedong (毛泽东). Last week, those same news agencies shockingly reported the demolition of the same structure.
With almost the same speed as the Chinese stock plummet, the golden Mao was dissembled. After nearly three months of building, why was the construction crew tasked with taking it down?
Businessman Sun Qingxin (孙庆新) of Lixing Group (丽星集团) implemented the idea and funded most of the cost, which totaled nearly $465,000 (3 million yuan) according to reports on online chat sites and local villagers. People who know Mr. Sun say he is ardent about Mao having numerous smaller images throughout his facilities.
Social media users both in China and the U.S. were critical of the construction to various degrees. Some stated the resemblance looked nothing like Mao, while others were upset the money could have gone to help the community either through funding schools or improving the Tongxu town’s (通许县) health care.
Non-state sanctioned news reporting, social media, and journalism is a controversial subject in China. From censored tweets on Chinese Twitter to disappearing editors in Hong Kong China looks to control the flow of information. Despite the extreme censorship once in a while people are allowed to express their feelings.
This seems to be the case for the superfluous statue in Henan Province (河南省). The public critiques seemed to have embarrassed those involved. In China, the resulting actions are emblematic of this loss-of-face.
Provincial officials said a lack of approval from authorities and the government didn’t go through the examination or proper approval process resulting in the demolition.
The effigy may have come down, but it remains unknown whether additional funds will be directed to the community as many netizens wished. The people have spoken. What else could they accomplish?