Maoist protesters became a major spectacle in the series of anti-Japanese protests in China that took place between September 15 – 18, 2012, with Chairman Mao's portraits and nostalgic slogans praising the nation's founder standing out in the crowds.
To many intellectuals the Maoists’ return to the Chinese political scene carries the bitter memories of the rounds and rounds of political campaigns and prosecutions, such as the Cultural Revolution, in Chinese history. That's why the incident of an 80-year-old man being beaten up by a Maoist Professor Han Deqiang during the rally in Beijing on September 18, has caught a lot of attention on Chinese micro-blogging platforms in the past few days.
Maoist leftists in the anti-Japan protests
Lao Ye shared [zh] his observations in his micro-blog about the return of Maoists in the anti-Japan Rally in Beijing:
[From “Xiaoping Nihao” to “Chairman Mao, People really miss you”] On September 18, among the Beijing students and mass demonstrators, quite a number of them were holding Mao's portraits and banners. One of the most popular banners was “Chairman Mao, people really miss you”. Back in 1984 students were holding “Xiaoping nihao”. The banner had become a historical sign of a new era [economic reform]. Today, we can't see anyone holding Deng's portraits or slogans. Such change has some implications.
Incidentally, a drama happened during the rally in Beijing. While the Maoist protesters were chanting “Chairman Mao, people really miss you”, an 80-year-old anti-Japan protester yelled at them: “Miss my ass!”
One of the protesters beat up the old man and called him a “traitor”. A blogger later identified [zh] the attacker to be Han Deqiang, a famous Chinese nationalist and founder of Maoist website “Utopia“, who teaches at the Beihang University in Beijing.
Later, an aggressive statement [zh] written by Han was circulated widely in many blogs and forums:
Usually I am against violence and pro rational and peaceful discussion. But when confronted with someone unreasonable, who makes defamatory remarks to our nation's founder with the intention to destroy Chinese people's unity and to serve the Japanese interest as traitor, I could not remain silent. I would rather be arrested than letting them showing off and creating a scene… This rally is an occasion to protest against little Japan and to remember Chairman Mao, I would not allow the presence of such outrageous traitor's talk. If I come across this again in future rally, I would do the same thing. I broke the law, I would accept its rule. But I would never apologize.
You may find it surprising that quite a number of netizens have actually expressed their supports for Han [zh]:
Zhang Hongliang: [Support Han Deqiang's just action in cracking down on the traitor without hesitation] Every country has rights to defend their religion. The American film that insulted Islamic belief has resulted in waves of anti-US protests. Why only in China don't we enjoy religious freedom? Why can't we have the freedom to believe in Chairman Mao? And the right to defend our beliefs? How can we allow the law to give liberty to those people who insult Chairman Mao? While people don't have the legal rights to defend their beliefs?
Tianma101: The red wave has destroyed the conspiracy that attempted to change China. The United States and its slaves in China attempted to bring the Arabic Spring to China but what they see now is a big wave of Maoist thought returning and the anti-revolutionaries’ faces have turned pale. Such a wave cannot be changed with their will. People have created their own spring. This would make the foreign powers re-evaluate the influence of their slaves in China.
Wang Hailin: The fact is in the past few years, many Maoist opinions have been repressed and censored. It is thus very courageous for them to take the opportunity and bring their banners and Mao's portraits to rally in the streets. To express one's opinion in the street is a concrete step [of action] rather than mere online talking.
Of course there are also opinions against the aggressive Maoists; below is a selection of skeptical voices [zh]:
Fan Xiaoyang: When compared with Japanese militarism, the harm that Maoist Leftists have brought to China is much bigger. We have to be aware of this.
Berlin2011: During Mao's era, the intelligence and morality of the society and civilization was regressing rapidly. We can even say that we entered a dark age of barbarianism. In the past few days, only the Maoists could appear in the protest scenes. Even though Utopia had been blocked several times, Maoist Leftists enjoy freedom of speech to a large extent. They could call out loud for the killing of traitors and even beat up people. On the other hand, the liberal is repressed. They could not express their ideas in the rally.
Zhang Lifeng: [Political ecology] The Maoist leftists are losing their power in 2012. That's why they have become so extreme, violent and marginalized. They will probably have internal conflict and will spilt up soon.