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Memorial opened to commemorate Mao's 2nd wife
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The life of He Zizhen, the second wife of Mao Zedong, the founder of New China, has been commemorated with the opening of a memorial in the eastern Jiangxi Province.

The two-storey structure, with a floor area of 11,617 square meters, in Yongxin county, where He Zizhen was born in 1910, was free to visitors, said county Party chief Huang Shaofeng.

"The memorial is a new attraction along the 'red tourism' route in Jiangxi Province, a cradle of the Chinese revolution," he said.

On the first floor of the memorial is an exhibition hall displaying photos, waxworks, documents and personal belongings that provide a record of her life.

Historic scenes, including her experience in the Long March, the 12,000-km trek by the Red Army from 1934 to 1936 that is recognized as a turning point in China's revolution, have been recreated in videos.

The second floor of the memorial contains photos and historical documents of 41 Yongxin-born generals, who were considered to have made significant contributions to China's revolutions that led to the founding of New China in 1949.

File photo of Mao Zedong and He Zizhen in Yan'an, Shaanxi Province, 1937

He Zizhen married Mao in 1928, a year after she led a coup of peasants in Jinggangshan, in the far interior of the province. She accompanied Mao, nearly 17 years older than herself, throughout his guerilla war.

The couple had six children, two of whom died shortly after birth and three were given away before or during the Long March. The only child that really stayed with them was Li Min, who is now71.

Li Min attended the memorial's inauguration ceremony on Sunday, in her first visit to her mother's birth place.

He Zizhen suffered 17 injuries during the Long March, while trying to protect a wounded official from a bomb. She was in poor health after that, and was sent to the Soviet Union in 1937 for medical treatment.

She returned to China in 1947 and after New China was founded, He served at the women's federation in Hangzhou, in the eastern Zhejiang Province, and was a member of the top political advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

She died of illness in 1984, at the age of 75.

In 1938, Mao married Jiang Qing, an actress who later became a leader of the notorious "Gang of Four" during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

The Yongxin county government spent more than eight million yuan (106,000 U.S. dollars) in constructing the memorial.

(Xinhua News Agency November 20, 2007)

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