Chairman Mao Zedong, the 82-year-old father of communist China and inspiration of revolutionaries across the world, died in Peking leaving his 800 million people without an obvious leader. Mao’s passing raised deep uncertainties about the future of the giant republic that he had led from a position of reverence and awe for 30 years. Radio Peking said Mao died at 10 minutes past midnight. It broadcast the news to the Chinese people nearly 16 hours later. The radio issued a statement from the leadership urging the people to uphold the unity of the Communist Party and to “carry on the cause left by Chairman Mao”. The message from the party central committee, the standing committee of the People’s Republic, and the military commission of the central committee, called on the people to “deepen the criticism” of former vice premier Deng Xiaoping. In factories, shops and apartment blocks people gathered around loudspeakers and radio sets. Funeral music followed the momentous broadcast and hundreds of people, many wearing black armbands, began to gather in the vast Tienanmen Square in the centre of Peking. Above the rooftops flags slid to half mast. Mao’s body would lie in state in the Great Hall of the People for one week for Chinese leaders and masses to pay their respects.
Foreigners Kept Out
No representative of any foreign government, any fraternal party or friendly individual will be invited to take part in ceremonies mourning Chairman Mao, the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee said.
The Indian president and prime minister condoled the death of Chairman Mao. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi said: “The government and people of India join me in sending your our sincere condolences on the death of Chairman Mao Zedong. He was an eminent statesman who led the resurgence and progress of the Chinese people.”