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Quick bedtime post on History – Mao & Sun – how history has judged them? April 6, 2010

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, China, Chinese New Year.
Tags: , , , ,


Recently during the Chinese New Year Celebrations, I asked a promotor at the Mao Zedong exhibition at Vivo city why Mao’s photo was placed at Tian An Men Square instead of Dr Sun’s. I asked out of curiosity as I have been always wondering why Mao was worshiped in Tian An Men Square for decades in place of Dr Sun. Both were great men doing the same aim albeit different styles.  Till now, I am still remained puzzled by the replies to my ardent questioning. Mao was a staunch defendent of China. One could effectively claim that during his reign, no foreign dignitaries could walk over his China’s interest. It would be also perfectly correct to say he used his life to defend every Chinese in China. What  was a dire mistake was his Cultural revolution in the 60s which had caused a lot of suffering. Perhaps history has viewed him as largely as a hero since he liberated the lives of peasants and ostracized the wealthy who exploited the former. No class of politics is perfect in alleviating the poverty and the pain of certain groups of people. Neither can we look forward to perfect men/women either.  Everyone has mistakes, even historically great leaders. The only difference would be the extent of the mistake. Circumstances change peoples’ character and their deeds and actions. What may be forgivable  is that one’s character should be measured during different times and circumstances. Mao, in essence formed the People’s Republic of China.

Dr Sun has its own criticisms as well. Some people feel that he was merely portrayed as a larger than life figure. It depends on how you see him. He was a doctor, an activist and someone who doesn’t appear to believe in a lot in power. He surrendered his presidency to Yuan Shikai whom he later overthrew for corruption and revival of the previous feudal era.I’ve gone to Singapore’s Wanqingyuan twice: once before it was closed for renovation and the 2nd time recently. Not happy with the quality of the exhibits on the 2nd visit. Plenty were moved out of the villa. What I see is the Dr Sun also sacrificed lives to achieve revolutionary aims. It could also be seen as inevitable. However, at the base level, he does move crowds to overcome the Qing dynasty. If it were not for him, the Chinese would still be either wearing pigtails & females be having warped feet…

Both men marked great changes. Who is to decide who is the great leader forward? If I leave you the reader to decide. Whom would you pick?

Posted via web from Daring to Posterous-ly Change


1. portlandscott - April 6, 2010

I think this question boils down to how you’re defining the term “great.” Does “great” mean one who influenced much change and consolidated vast power? Or does “great” refer to one’s contribution to humanity in the form of increasing peace and human rights? I believe Mao was “great” in the former sense, and failed in the latter.

To illustrate my point, consider the following comparison: Was Stalin a great leader? Was Ghandi and great leader? I believe the answer to both questions is yes, though each answer relies on a different definition of “great.”

Anyway, great post. I really enjoyed reading it, and will be checking back.

2. Karen - April 7, 2010

thanks for taking the time to read my blog! Hope to receive more feedback on my posts. Agree upon the definition of ‘great’ has variable meanings. There are commonalities though: firstly both defended China’s interests that put their lives at stake. Both are highly respected though I would have thought Sun had a greater influence since he started the revolution and laid the foundations. I also asked if Zhou Enlai was considered as great. He is known to choose to shift his ancestral graves so local commoners could grow crops in place of the graveyard. (which is really a big sacrifice in the Chinese culture). Passive leadership appears to be undershone in lots of the historical instances…

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