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Monday, May 10, 2021

Ma vs Mao

A former Chinese premier wrote an essay titled ‘My Mother’. Behind the Great Firewall, even this is too subversive

By: Editorial |
Updated: April 22, 2021 8:01:08 am
Maharashtra election results, haryana election results, BJP in haryana, Congress in Haryana, BJP Maharashtra, Congress Maharashtra, indian expressIt is unlikely that the decision to censor the rather innocuous essay by a senior politician was taken by an algorithm.

Motherhood and apple pie”, at least for the Americans, are beyond reproach. Closer home, self-made fictional entrepreneur Vijay (from Deewar) had bangla, gaadi, daulat, etc, but was belittled by Ravi, his ungrateful younger brother, because he did not have the support of his Ma. But even the mater familias — that too of a senior, once-powerful party leader — does not escape the ever-watchful and increasingly insecure eye of the party-state in China.

Wen Jiabao, former Chinese Communist Party politburo member and the country’s premier from 2002 to 2012, wrote an essay titled ‘My Mother’, which was published in the Macau Herald. Within China, Wen is considered something of a reformist and he even mentioned democracy in some of his public addresses as premier. In the essay, he describes how his father suffered during Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, and that he wishes China to be “a country full of fairness and justice”. The article reportedly does not mention “democracy” or “rule of law” — words that are a part of the moral rhetoric in democracies, but a marker of dissent behind the Great Wall. Yet, Wen’s essay has been taken down from websites and blogs that had picked it up and WeChat, the country’s most popular messaging service, has prevented it from being shared.

It is unlikely that the decision to censor the rather innocuous essay by a senior politician was taken by an algorithm. It smacks of the insecurity that political “strongmen” in high office often display. In China, even the memory of mother cannot be used as an excuse to criticise Mao, or even hint that Xi Jinping’s rule is not completely glorious. Working-class hero Vijay was defeated by the invocation of his mother. Unfortunately, within the Great Firewall, Ma is no match for Mao and his successors.

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