Then run, do not walk, to read this book review. Money quote (nothing new, but so well stated):
But as Deng pragmatically observed, discrediting Mao “would mean discrediting our Party and state.” And so, in the end, Mao’s legacy as grand progenitor of the Chinese Communist Revolution was left largely intact, despite the horrors of this last revolutionary paroxysm.
And so the huge portrait of Mao looming godlike over Tiananmen Square must remain, no matter how revolting it is to idolize a man whose evil was eclipsed only by Hitler’s. The statues will stay fixed on all the unversity campuses. The mummified corpse swimming in formaldehyde will be displayed to gawking tourists. In a world of so many true heroes and saints, Mao is certainly a peculiar choice for such deification. But the Party has no choice; to do otherwise would be to admit to its own failings, and that is one thing it cannot do. The Party is infallible, omniscient and foolproof. Just ask anyone being interviewd on CCTV.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.