fifty years ago September 24, 1971 Archives

From the Archives (September 24, 1971): Mao portraits vanish from streets

Though not a single shred of direct evidence has emerged from China so far to prove that Mr. Mao Tse-tung is dead or that his name is being denigrated, one cannot also ignore the number of bits of circumstantial evidence which simply cannot be without meaning or be sheer cases of coincidence. For one thing, reports from Peking have noted how portraits of Mr. Mao have been quietly disappearing from different parts of the city. In Hong Kong a big neon sign atop the Bank of China building which carried a well-known Maoist saying for many years has been mysteriously removed without any explanation. Monitors of Chinese broadcasts in Japan reported to-day [Tokyo, Sept. 23] that for the first time in many years this morning’s nationwide domestic broadcast from Peking in the Chinese language did not open with the usual sayings of Mr. Mao. One point seems to be becoming fairly clear that whatever the conflicts that might have possibly developed within Chinese leadership hierarchy or whatever turmoil or disturbance may be rocking the country for some reason, which still remains to be determined, China has decided to denigrate Mr. Mao’s name and to eliminate his personality cult which had been so assiduously built up over the years.

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