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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: August 2012

6 - Mao and His Followers


To me Mao was like God, I believed that he was not only the great leader of the Chinese people, but also the great leader of people throughout the world. I feared the day when he would no longer be with us. I really hoped there'd be a scientific breakthrough that would enable young people like us to voluntarily give up a year of our lives to add a minute to his.

Dai Qing, adopted daughter of Marshal Ye Jianying, recalling the sentiments of young princesses and princes of the party and other urban youth at the onset of the Cultural Revolution in 1966

The general attitude of the masses [during the 1976 Tiananmen crisis] was anger at the unfair treatment of [Premier] Zhou Enlai, antipathy toward the [Politburo] radicals, and difficulty in comprehending the government's behavior. But it is hard to describe sentiment toward Mao himself. There was dissatisfaction and anger over his support for the “gang of four” and the treatment of the Premier, but at the same time a continuing deep faith in Mao.

A businessman's recollection concerning his experiences as a young factory worker who regularly visited Tiananmen Square, January–April 1976

Chairman Mao's great feats are enduring. Chinese history has proved that … only Chairman Mao could have led us to victory. Without Chairman Mao, there would be no new China. [His] … greatness cannot be overestimated.… Chairman Mao was not without shortcomings and mistakes. Yet they are insignificant when compared to his great feats.… [It is wrong to say that, like Stalin], he had [only] 70 percent achievements and 30 percent mistakes. […]

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