Liu Heung Shing
scan, colour; original source: photograph, colour
China 2008: China: Portrait of a Country, edited by Liu Heung Shing. Hong Kong: Taschen, 2008:292-293.
Liu Heung Shing, Honk Kong, Taschen
Mao Zedong, post-Mao era, Mao portrait, Mao image, omnipresence, public, private, Communist Party of China, CCP, restriction
Taking down Mao's Image
Immediately after the Cultural Revolution, there were continuous attempts to restrict the use of Mao images, especially in public. Laborious actions were undertaken to tear down statues and portraits. One interviewee remembers that this took place silently and without much ado: “During the Cultural Revolution there were all these images of Mao, but slowly they had been taken down. People were not against it. Perhaps in some places there was some resistance, but certainly not everywhere.” (Journalist 1949-) A Party document dated July 29, 1981, however, decrees as follows:
"1. Henceforth, no official portraits will be displayed during meetings;
2. Portraits of Chairman Mao can be hung in public places but with due regard for moderation and dignity, and so as not to offend international sensibilities. Note that excessive numbers of portraits should not be hung, yet it is inappropriate to ban the display of portraits altogether;
3. No portraits of living central Party leaders are to be hung either during meetings or in public;
4. It is entirely up to the individuals as to whether they hang portraits of living or dead leading comrades in their homes or in private. It is forbidden for Party, state or army organizations at any level to interfere with individual preference in any way." (Barmé 1996, 134)
The fact that this kind of document appears, and is couched in such careful language, shows that the attempts to restrict the uses of Mao imagery in public (and private) after Mao’s death had been unsuccessful. Indeed, the official dismantling of Mao statues had been recalled in 1980, on November 6, as removal of these statues had frequently caused public outrage (Barmé 1996:134, ft.6).