Anti-Japan protests channel uncomfortable amounts of Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution

We were more than a little stunned when we first came to China a few years ago and discovered that people, even young, educated people, had strong, positive feelings for Chairman Mao and his legacy. I thought we’d gotten used to it, but seeing these photos and slogans from the anti-Japan protests made me realize I’m still amazed at how, despite everything that was done in his name and on his orders — in living memory! — the Party has altered his legacy in the minds of the people. Click the link or the photos to see more pictures of Mao at the protests:
Mao comes back to life amid wide spread anti-Japan protests in China

“Chairman Mao, the Japs are bullying us again.”

“Grandpa Mao says: ‘Get the dog-f—ing Japs!'”

On the influence of the Cultural Revolution in current Chinese politics: Total Denial and the Will to Forget

A collection of riot photos: In Photos: China’s anti-Japan fury

More about Mao’s legacy, real and imagined:

More about the Anti-Japan protests:

4 thoughts on “Anti-Japan protests channel uncomfortable amounts of Chairman Mao and the Cultural Revolution”

  1. Do you get the sense that the Chinese gov’t has a hand in propelling these protests? The stylized signs (non-handmade) and resurrecting of Mao make me think so. But I am not on the ground there in China

  2. Of course it’s government propelled. The most strange for me is, that most of Chinese people will tell you, that they are friendly and peaceful. So where such outbreak of hate for Japs comes from???
    Strong feelings to chairman Mao? It’s the effect of brainwashing they receive already from primary school. I have been working here some time and I can tell that people, who have brain, are not so unconditional Mao’s lovers.

    1. During our first couple years in Tianjin we lived real close to TianDa and Nankai campuses. One night there was a r!ot at one of them because a driver knocked over a student cyclist, got out of the car and started waving his ID card in her face, generally being ugly, blaming her, and doing the whole “do you know who I am??!!!” thing. but it was right at the time students were changing classes, so a mob formed around them (on the side of the students) and they flipped the car and the driver had to flee, etc. Some time after midnight the administrators with bullhorns came out and told all the hundreds of students that if they went back to their dorms no one would be in trouble. Nothing about it in the news, of course. I only found out because I just happened to be googling around the next morning and found some random little English blog that had photos — I couldn’t believe it was from the night before, right down the street. We went and looked and that had red banners strung everywhere about being peaceful and civilizedly handling disputes. I showed the photos to a Chinese friend and asked him why such a little thing caused such a huge scene, and he said that’s just how China was, that under the surface it’s basically a powder keg.

      In this related post I mentioned “the psychological angle regarding repression, anger, anxiety, and stress due to current societal pressures” – it’s my hunch that that has more to do with it than WWII atrocities and the current political situation with Japan.

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