Mao's not rotting - official

PEKING (Reuter) - Chinese officials are anxious to scotch rumours that the embalmed body of Chairman Mao Tse-tung, the founder of the Communist state, is rotting or shinking in its crystal coffin, an official newspaper said. Xu Jing, director of the Mao Tse-tung Mausoleum in Peking's Tiananmen Square, said newspaper reports on the declining state of the chairman's corpse were 'sheer rumour'.

'With current scientific methods, preserving the body for another 200 years would be no problem,' Ms Xu was quoted as saying by the Youth Daily yesterday. Mao, who died in 1976 at the age of 82, was put on display in a see-through sarcophagus in 1977 after 700,000 volunteers erected a vast granite-pillared mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. His body has been seen by about 70 million people.

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