A gigantic golden statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong is being constructed at Zhushigang village, in Tongxu County, according to reports. The nearly 121-foot-tall statue in the village located near the city of Kaifeng in the central Henan province is being reportedly built at a cost of 3 million yuan ($460,000).
Photographs of the statue, first published by a Henan-based news website, show Mao's statue nearing completion. China’s "Great Helmsman," who ruled the country until his death in September 1976, served as chairman of both the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China. The statue is made from steel and concrete and decorated in gold-colored paint. Liu Jianwu, the dean of China’s Mao Zedong research center, reportedly said that the statue appeared to have been designed to “commemorate a leader."
“In contemporary China, Mao Zedong represents the embodiment of fairness and justice,” Liu said, according to the Guardian. “In the hearts of ordinary people, Mao represents fairness and justice. So people hold these kinds of emotions towards him.”
The construction of the statue drew criticism on Weibo, China’s microblogging site, as users held Mao responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese citizens because of his economic policies that resulted in a calamitous famine.
However, despite being blamed for millions of deaths, Mao is still widely revered in China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has reportedly praised Mao as a "great figure who changed the face of the nation and led the Chinese people to a new destiny."
However, building Mao temples is not encouraged by the central government or local authorities in China.
In 2013, on Mao's 120th birthday, Xi reportedly said in a public speech that "we cannot worship [revolutionary leaders] as gods just because they are great people, not allowing others to point out and correct their errors and mistakes."