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Chairman Mao Is Greater Than Nelson Mandela, Chinese Leftists Say

Since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) declared ideological war on online public opinion leaders on popular microblogging site Sina Weibo in August, many liberal bloggers have withdrawn from the platform while leftists and fans of China's red culture are more vocal than ever.

With the death of Nelson Mandela, the internationally beloved former president of South Africa, on December 5, 2013, that political tilt was on full display as Maoist and nationalistic left-wing Weibo users took the opportunity to praise Chinese communist revolutionary and Mandela inspiration Mao Zedong and, surprisingly, criticize state-controlled media outlets for giving too many compliments to Mandela. 

Screen capture from the CCTV news feature on the life of Nelson Mandela

Screen capture from Chinese Central Television's news feature on the life of Nelson Mandela

During its review of Mandela's life, Chinese Central Television (CCTV) highlighted [zh] that Mandela had cited first generation leaders of the Chinese Communist PartyChairman Mao, Zhou Enlai and Zhu Deas sources of inspiration for his struggle in South Africa. According to the broadcast, Mandela even celebrated China's October 1 National Day with his prisonmates while incarcerated.

On Weibo, Maoists and left-wing nationalists, who are critical of capitalistic China and are in favor of more Maoist-style socialism, knocked CCTV's gracious treatment of Mandela and praised Chairman Mao instead.

“Mr Ouyang”, a microblogger upholding Marxist and Maoist thought, wrote:

曼德拉是一位民族主义者,他长期为种族平等自由而努力。他的逝世,值得悼念。但是,中国媒体过度拔高炒作他,让人不屑。曼的影响力很少,他没有思想,更无号召力。而中国的毛泽东,无论是在世界的影响力还是对世界人民的贡献,都是无与伦比的。曼自称是毛主席的学生。有些人处处想拿外人比下毛泽东,结果无效!

Mandela was a nationalist and had fought for equality and freedom for his race. We should mourn for his death. However, the Chinese media has given him too many compliments. Mandela's impact is limited and did not not develop any coherent thought. He was not even charismatic. The impact of China's Mao Zedong on the world and contribution to people of the world are outstanding. Mandela called himself a student of Chairman Mao. Some people want to downgrade Mao Zedong by comparing him with others, they are wasting their time.

Comments like this are more common thanks to the revival of Mao‘s legacy as a communist leader under current President Xi Jinping. Members of China's New Left are now taking every opportunity to reestablish the “greatness” of Mao, and Mandela's death is the latest excuse. 

“Windy Valley”, who used Mao's selected writings as his profile picture, also criticized CCTV for giving too much credit to Mandela, writing:

说实话,至今我都弄不明白,印度甘地,南非曼德拉他们所受到的赞誉怎么会那么高?当然他们都很了不起,也很伟大,但也仅此而已。毛主席远超于此。在毛泽东的名字前添加的不仅是伟大,更是神圣和唯一。曼德拉只能看到种族歧视和隔离,毛泽东更是看到了种族问题背后的阶级矛盾和斗争。这就是差距。

To be frank, I don't understand why India's Gandhi and South Africa's Mandela receive so much praise. Of course they were great, that's all. But Chairman Mao surpassed them all. We should place words like “divine” and “unprecedented” in front of Mao Zedong's name. While Mandela saw racial discrimination and segregation, Mao Zedong saw the class conflict and struggle behind the racial problem. This is the difference [between the two].

A portrait combining Xi Jinping and Chairman Mao to capture the revival of Mao. Image uploaded to Twitter by @feng37

A portrait combining the images of current President Xi Jinping and Chairman Mao to capture the revival of Mao. Image uploaded to Twitter by @feng37

“Red River”, also a self-proclaimed Maoist, recited CCTV's report and added his own comment:

曼德拉:毛泽东、周恩来、朱德等老一辈革命家和中国人民对南非人民争取独立、反对种族隔离制度的斗争给予了很大的支持,长征和中国革命一直鼓舞着南非人民。曼德拉在南非人民心中的崇高地位就像毛泽东在中国人民心中的崇高地位一样,高山仰止,世代永尊!

Mandela: Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Zhu De, the old generation's revolutionists and the Chinese people lent support to the South African people's struggle against racial segregation and for independence. The Long March and Chinese Revolution gave the South African people inspiration. How the South African people hold Mandela in their hearts is like how Chinese people hold Mao Zedong in their hearts, their images are loftier than the highest mountain and will last forever.

In response to why Mao does not enjoy the same praise both within China and worldwide, @risingfromash, who is a self-described patriot youth, said:

全世界只有毛主席领导人民砸烂了一切束缚中国人民的枷锁,使人民真正地站了起来。而曼德拉,如同甘地一样并没能使人民真正地赢得一切。所以西方极为痛恨和惧怕毛泽东思想,却大力吹捧甘地和曼德拉

Mao Zedong is the only one in the whole world to have broken all the chains that enslaved the Chinese people and helped them to stand up. Mandela and Gandhi did not help their people to win all that they deserved. That's why the west hates and fears Maoist thought, but keeps flattering Gandhi and Mandela.

@guojizhuanjia, who used the Maoist slogan “anti-Soviet, prevent a capitalist revival” in his profile description, highlighted Mandela's view on the Tibetan independence movement:

曼德拉应该是一个向种族主低头。他对世界的看法完全是白人的立场和观点。虽然他被白人关入监狱,但是也放弃了向种族主义斗争到底的决心。他把藏独分子看成民权运动,这就是大错特错了。是一个黑皮香蕉

Mandela had bowed to racism. His views on world politics resemble white people's. Although he was put in prison by white people, he gave up his determination to struggle against racism. His consideration of the Tibetan independence movement as a human rights movement was a big, big mistake. He is a banana with dark skin.

Some stuck up for Mandela in the face of racially charged taunts. Huang Yen, a IT worker, was angry at the Maoist comments:

不要拿毛泽东来羞辱曼德拉。虽然同样是治国无方,但曼德拉上台没有搞文革,没有集体化弄出饥荒。曼德拉更是不恋栈退休而从事防治爱之病等公益事业,把政权民主和平的交给年轻一代。

Please don't insult Mandela using Mao Zedong. Both did not have antidotes for solving their countries’ fundamental problems. Mandela never launched the Cultural Revolution and never implemented collectives which resulted in famine. Mandela did not indulge in power, he chose to retire and contributed to charity works against the spread of AIDS. He passed on the government to the next generation in peace with a democratic system.

Writer Meng Qingde commented:

曼德拉或许研究过毛泽东,但他没有成为毛泽东,这是南非的大幸,否则,南非会上演一幕幕阶级仇民族恨的惨剧,曼德拉也就不会为世界所敬重和怀念了。

Mandela probably had studied Mao Zedong. But he did not become Mao Zedong. South Africa is lucky, or it would have gone through a series of tragedies related to class struggle and national resentment. If that happened, Mandela would not be respected and missed by the world.

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