May 21, 2006 |
FORTY YEARS AGO, on May 16, 1966, Chairman Mao Tse-tung unleashed the Cultural Revolution on China. At the time, I was a 25-year-old photographer living in Harbin, the capital of the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. Only a few months earlier I had returned from the countryside, where I had been sent for a year and a half during the Socialist Education Movement to share the hardship of the peasants and to spread revolutionary fervor.
October 11, 2009 |
That the current ruler of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, is a bore will no doubt be a relief to most people, including 1.3 billion Chinese. Hu's dullness is remarkable given the high drama of China's fairly recent transformation from a poor, blood-soaked totalitarian country to a rich (in patches) superpower aspiring to take over America's lead in the not-so-distant future. But perhaps his lack of charisma is part of the point. The first 27 years of the People's Republic, under Chairman Mao, when millions died in almost constant purges and upheavals, and tens of millions died of starvation in bizarre economic experiments, were so awful that most Chinese are quite sick of charismatic leadership.
November 7, 1994 |
The most cerebral question posed by designers here centered on hemlines. Mid-thigh? Knee-grazing? Ankle-length? Mind-numbing? Oh, yes. We'd rather mull over which of designer Vivienne Tam's Andy Warhol-esque Chairman Mao images are the most irreverent. Mao in pigtails? Mao with bubble-gum pink lips? Mao being stung on the nose by a bumblebee? "That one is called 'Ow Mao,' " Tam said in her showroom Friday afternoon.
September 7, 1986 |
It is 5 o'clock in Peking. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is closed. The pilgrims and tourists who have viewed Mao's body lying in state--they average 50,000 a day--are gone. My students and I have been allowed in after-hours to photograph the white marble statue of Mao seated in the entrance hall, which seems to float against the tapestry of clouds and mountains behind him. Mao, though, had asked to be cremated. No grand tomb, no remains, just a place for his ashes.
August 10, 2008
Re "Human rights take field in China," Aug. 6 In my travels in China as long as 13 years ago -- when the air was nowhere near as dirty as it is now -- I saw Chinese citizens all over Beijing wearing surgical masks to protect themselves from the polluted air. Our cyclists were doing the same, and have nothing to apologize for. The Chinese should look in the mirror before claiming to have been deeply offended. Mark W. Dixon Newport Beach Before we use the Olympics as a tool to brazenly criticize life in China, why don't we first tend our own garden?
April 15, 1989 |
China said Friday that its population had reached 1.1 billion, twice as many people as at the time of the 1949 revolution, and warned of national disaster unless fresh efforts are made to enforce birth control. Government leaders and the state-run media acknowledged that the country's Draconian policy of one child per family had largely failed and said population could reach an intolerable 2 billion next century if birth control is neglected. The Communist Party newspaper People's Daily said China made a grave mistake by rejecting the advice of population experts in the 1950s, but did not name the leader then--Chairman Mao Tse-tung.
November 1, 1987 |
The former imperial compound where the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung lived for nearly two decades is today a slightly shabby place where selected Chinese tourists are presented an image of a man who loved books and table tennis. Built with gray bricks, gray roof tiles and vermilion columns in the traditional Chinese style around a 60-foot-by- 80-foot tree-shaded courtyard, the 325-year-old residence now has something of the lifeless aura of a poorly maintained ancient history museum.
October 18, 2009 |
You can't help but wonder whether Mao Tse-tung would be rolling over in his mausoleum if he could hear the ka-ching! of cash registers ringing up the amazing array of tchotchkes, from snow globes to glow-in-the-dark figurines, sold with his likeness. Or if the founder of Communist China, who fretted about "the serious tendency toward capitalism among the well-to-do peasants," could hear this blithe assertion by a visitor here: "I think that what Chairman Mao really intended was for Chinese people to get rich."