If you’ve ever wondered why so many Mainlanders still love Mao, this quote explains it more or less the same as our friends and teachers in Tianjin do (except our friends in Tianjin are less negative toward Mao).
I feel that the Liberation of China in 1949 really was a fantastic event. And I include Mao Zedong in that. Even though Chairman Mao did a lot of wrong, and even committed crimes — I do acknowledge that. But we have to recognize Mao Zedong’s contribution to the revival of the Chinese nation as a whole. He was actually a great historical figure and his name will go down in the annals of history. He’s like the Emperor Qin Shi Hung Di, who burned books, buried Confucian scholars alive and tyrannized the people, but this can’t obscure his achievements in uniting China, setting up the legal code, developing commerce, and even building the Great Wall, one of the wonders of the world. Mao Zedong gave the Chinese back their self-respect as a people after the Opium War, and that achievement can never be wiped out.
What does Liberation mean? The greatest liberation has been for the working people. Previously in China, workers and peasants had absolutely no status; now, they may still be poor, but it’s not the same. At least now, society and the media and officials have to show respect for them, whether they mean it or not, and they’re supposed to be the masters! Before Liberation, the expression “Chinese people” didn’t include them. The difference between then and now is really huge. That’s why I tell you we are the most fortunate generation, because we have seen with our own eyes the difference between before and after Liberation. We have seen the whole process — from war, starvation, poverty and unrest, to the imposition of order, our growing strength and the development of a humane society.