Two vast and trunkless legs of reinforced concrete now stand in the arid fields of north China’s Henan province, where a new statue of late Communist leader Mao Zedong has just been erected.

Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.

Towering close to 37 meters above former farmland in Tongxu county and painted glittering gold, the statue set the locality back a princely RMB3 million (HK$3.6 million).

Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.

Far from being dazzled, however, netizens have looked upon the village’s work and despaired.

Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.

“How about using the money for poverty alleviation first?” one Sina commenter asked. “Besides, it’s so ugly—doesn’t look a bit like [Mao].”

Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.

Besides the exorbitant cost, web users also criticised the project for reducing valuable farmland to lone and level sands and pushing the country toward “a return to the Cultural Revolution.”

Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.
Henan Mao statue. Photo: HNR.cn.

On National Day, couples in another Henan village participated in a Mao-themed mass wedding in which they bowed to an altar bearing the likeness of the Great Helmsman and received copies of the Little Red Book as wedding presents.

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Ryan Kilpatrick

Ryan Kilpatrick is a local writer, journalist and editor. Formerly National Online Editor for the That's magazine group in China, his work on the history and politics of the region has earned him the CEFC Award in Modern China Studies and has also appeared in China Economic Review, Asian Studies Review, China Green News, e-International Relations, Shanghaiist and various publications at his alma mater, the University of Hong Kong, where he is currently enrolled in the Master of Journalism programme.