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Influence of Mao's 'Little Red Books' Lingers

Though no adorer of late Chinese leader Mao Zedong, like her father and grandfather, Chen Di, 20, has still found occasion to turn to Mao's famous "little red book".

A computer science student at the prestigious University of Wales in Britain, Chen said that Mao's indoctrination to "study hard and make progress every day" was worth following.


Acknowledging that she had never memorized Mao's quotations, Chen Di said the indoctrination of Mao, which was still inscribed on a few school walls today, was impressed on her mind as a primary school girl.


"As a student from China, I hope my effort will help me win respect from foreign teachers and schoolmates," she said. "And indoctrination by Mao's writing is just what I need right now. I feel encouraged every time I think of it."


In the 1960s and 70s, China saw a fervor of Mao adoration, which Chongqing-based sociologist Yu Ping interprets as god-like worship.


"Mao's indoctrination was printed into handy, little red pamphlets for the whole country to study and even learn by heart."


With a circulation of approximately 5 billion copies in different languages, the little red pamphlets, called Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, were a bestseller in the 1960s.


Chen Di's father, Chen Jizhi, now turning 50, can still remember which chapter or column of Mao's works a given indoctrination is from. He said that it was the fashion to brandish the little red pamphlet when he was a kid.


A general manager of a large state-owned enterprise, Chen Jizhi said he takes Mao's indoctrination "Serve the people wholeheartedly" as a motto.


A retiree from a former military industry enterprise, Chen Di's grandfather Chen You'an, born in 1927 and now in his mid 70's, was convinced that Mao's indoctrination and thought played a crucial role in encouraging the Chinese people to overcome difficulties they encountered in the building of a new China.


However, Chen Di said she could not fully understand the admiration and affection her father and grandfather showed for Mao.


"People today should rethink what Mao said in the past," Chen Di said. "As some of Mao's ideas should still be valued today, I also believe some have no value in this different age."


She said she had her own understanding of Mao's words. His emphasis of going in for investigation and study before making conclusions, Chen Di said, reflected his philosophic thinking.


Sociologist Yu Ping said Mao's great contribution to the development of China could never be denied, and that his military philosophy and literary talents still influenced Chinese society.


(Xinhua News Agency December 19, 2003)



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