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.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others