What’s happening with that giant golden statue of Mao in China?

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(Buster&Bubby / Flickr)

(Buster&Bubby / Flickr)

This month, a 120-foot-tall statue of former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the village of Zhushigang, Henan province, was completed. The steel-and-concrete statue sat, somewhat incongruously, in the middle of a field. Days later, the statue was torn down. What happened?

Local officials claim that the statue was not approved. The statue was commissioned by local business leaders and villagers, at a total estimated cost of three million yuan ($460,000). Mao ruled China from 1945–1976, and remains a divisive figure.

Photos circulating on social media in China show the statue being dismantled. Some commentators found the statue’s location offensive, as Henan was the epicenter of the Great Famine that began in the late 1950s and by some estimates claimed 36 million lives. Today, the province is one of the poorest in China, and some questioned if the money spent on the statue could have been spent on poverty alleviation or education.

For those who would like to view an ostentatious homage to the former leader, there are many more larger-than-life statues of Mao throughout China. In Chengdu’s Tianfu Square, visitors can stare at a 98.4-foot-tall statue of Mao that was erected in 1967 on the site of an ancient palace.

Mao statue in Square (AndyHe829 / Wikimedia Commons)

Mao statue in Tianfu Square (AndyHe829 / Wikimedia Commons)

In Changsha, there is a 105-foot-tall Mount Rushmore-esque bust of young Mao on a cliff overlooking the Orange River. Erected in 2007, the statue depicts Mao circa 1925.

(Huangdan2060 / Wikimedia Commons)

(Huangdan2060 / Wikimedia Commons)

Alternatively, there’s an opportunity to try out new techniques that allow a statue to materialize in an ephemeral form. In 2015, a Chinese inventor duo debuted hologram projections that replicated the Bamiyan Buddha statue destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

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