The huge mausoleum to the late Chairman Mao Tsetung in the centre of Peking is to be turned into a memorial hall for all the dead leaders of the communist party, a senior official announced yesterday.
The party propaganda official told a press conference that items associated with three other deceased leaders would be placed in the mausoleum: Premier Chou Enlai, Marshal Chu Teh and President Liu Shaochi.
Premier Chou Enlai and Chu Teh both died in 1976, a few months before Mao himself, while Liu Shaochi, an arch-rival of Mao’s, died in prison in 1969.
The neo-Grecian styled mausoleum was opened in 1977 as a Maoist shrine modelled on Lenin’s in Moscow. China’s rulers have since decided to drop the Mao cult, but visitors can still view Mao’s embalmed corpse lying in state.
The official who announced the change said that all of China’s veteran communist leaders had contributed to “Mao Tsetung thought”, which he said was a crystalisation of their collective wisdom, and not the work of Mao alone.
however, he denied that the present Chinese leadership was practising “de-Maoism”.
There have been reports and rumours about mao’s mausoleum floating round for more than four years, and it is clear that at one stage the communist party central committee even considered demolishing the building altogether.
as a concession to hard-line maoists, however, the once- great helmsman has been allowed to stay where he is.
The new-style mausoleum will be officially opened on the 90th anniversary of mao’s birth on boxing day, december 26.
The current Chinese leadership of Teng hsiaoping is using the occasion of mao’s birthday anniversary to redefine mao’s place in history.
apart from the maousoleum, a film of mao’s life has been released which glosses over his many errors and concentrates on his triumphs as a guerrilla fighter. Teng hsiaoping features prominently in many newsreel scenes.