Postcard from... Beijing


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The Independent Online

Mao Tse-tung, the founder of modern China, who died in 1976, remains a divisive figure.

His image adorns Chinese banknotes and his embalmed body attracts hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors a day to Beijing. While the ruling Communist Party has acknowledged that Mao made mistakes, there has yet to be an official accounting for the chaos of the Cultural Revolution or the millions of deaths from starvation during the “Great Leap Forward” of 1958-61. So when an news presenter on China’s main state broadcaster, CCTV, insulted Mao on air, not only did it go viral on social media sites, it also sparked an investigation by the channel and forced the anchorman to apologise yesterday.

In a brief statement released on its website, CCTV said the remarks of presenter Bi Fujian “had a serious social impact”. “We will seriously handle the matter in line with related regulations and based on careful investigation,” it said without elaborating.

However, the decision to investigate Bi has generated much anger on the internet. On one Weibo poll, 80 per cent of respondents said Bi should  not apologise. In the video, Bi sings parts of a Cultural Revolution-era opera and inserts his own comments, including that Mao led the people to misery. Reuters