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

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