OUR DUMB CENTURY: Giant poster of Mao seizes power in China - Enormous placard now controls world's most populous nation

REPORTS FROM THE FRONTIERS OF HISTORY

Share
Related Topics
PEKING, CHINA, 2 OCTOBER 1949 - Ending a long and bitter civil war, the Chinese people today celebrated the transfer of power to a 15ft by 20ft poster of Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-tung.

After the new poster-led government was established, a large rally was held in China's Tien An Men square, with the poster looking out approvingly over the crowd from atop a high balcony. Thousands came to pay tribute to the picture, which now leads the most populous nation on earth.

"We have put our faith in this great poster," said one Chinese citizen in attendance.

The Rise of the Poster

Not much is known in the West about the ruling poster, except that it is said to be made of the finest Chinese silk-bond cardboard stock. Once a mere paper sign advertising the sale of pigs from a peasant farm in the village of Hsiang T'an, the poster grew in size and amassed a large following after serving as a banner in the war with Japan. Now a charismatic poster, it led troops across China to drive out the armies of Chiang Kai- shek during the civil war, ultimately forcing the Nationalists to Formosa under threat of severe paper cuts.

The new government's Central Governing Council is made up of some of the poster's top advisor-banners, including the new Chinese flag, which features a solid red background with five yellow stars in the corner. The flag is slated to become the nation's second-in-command. The council voted the poster the sole leader of China's new Communist government, granting smaller pictures regional authority over much of the newly unified country. Pocket-sized paper books are slated to be handed to all Chinese citizens to further solidify the poster's control.

A New Era

The giant picture's total control over China marks a distinct departure from traditional Chinese governance. This new era of political power in the hands of poster imagery was summed up by Yang Shan-kun, a political observer: "This is one of the first times in Chinese history that we have been able to see one of our leaders. In the past, our great emperors were hidden from view in the Forbidden City, but in this new Communist era of humble egalitarianism, the leader has revealed himself to us. And his enormous size and unwavering expression prove to us his greatness."

"How great our poster-leaders of antiquity must have been," Yang continued. "While they were hidden from public view, we can theorise now that they, too, were just as enormous, attractive, fatherly looking, and fixed in their proud, determined gazes."

Sources close to the new government indicate that the poster of Mao may be planning a summit with a marble statute of Josef Stalin by year's end. Some U.S. observers have speculated that a meeting between the Mao poster and newsreel footage of President Truman could happen as soon as the middle of next year.

In such a summit meeting, the poster and the footage would face each other in an ornate room while cameras capture their images to make other pictures.

The above is an extract from 'Our Dumb Century', a satirical history in newspaper form, edited by Scott Dikkers, and published by Boxtree, pounds 9.99.

NEXT WEEK: Kennedy at the Berlin Wall

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

Read Next
It's not only the British who haven't been behaving well abroad; pictured here are German fans celebrating their team's latest victory  

Holiday snaps that bite back: What happens in Shagaluf no longer stays in Shagaluf

Ellen E Jones
Simon Laird (left) and Sister Simon Laird, featured in the BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets  

Estates of the nation: Let's hear it for the man in the street

Simmy Richman
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport