Pondering grandfather's website
Mao Xinyu (毛新宇), holder of a PhD on the history of Chinese Communist Party, newly appointed member of the CPPCC National Committee, and grandson of Chairman Mao prepared four proposals for this year's National People's Congress. Three of them are connected to his grandfather.
Mr. Mao said his proposals are “about the relation between Mao Zedong’s theories and the development of our education system, Mao Zedong’s economic theory and the development of companies in our country, Mao Zedong’s “Three Lines” theory and the location of our country's industries. But the only proposal that I have so far completed is the proposal to develop the China Traditional Medicine".
Below is an interview with Mr Mao that has been reposted on a blog; it was originally published in a newspaper called Xinkuaibao (新快报). He answers questions about his family, his reputation as a "slovenly person", his large girth, as well as his proposal to the CPPCC.
Mao Xinyu: Willing to be an Olympic torch bearer
Q: You have said that your grandfather is god; is he a perfect man to you?
Q: If you had the chance to meet him, what would you say to him?
A: I wish the old man could see the development and changes in China today, he would be happy.
Q: You were born into an “emperor’s family”, and your life has always been the focus of public attention, is there anything that makes you feel bad about it? Given the choice, would you like to live this kind of life again?
A: As a descendant of the Leader, I do have a lot of stress. I feel that people are always watching my behavior. So I must do good. I am quite well-known and when I exercise in some parks, people recognize me. They are all very concerned about me, and sometimes we talk about my family. Some people in society care for my family and they do know a lot about us. If I could choose, I would be born into such a family again. I feel very privileged.
Q: Some reports say you have met the grandson of [first generation communist leader PLA commander in chief] Zhu De, Zhu Heping (朱和平). What kind of meeting was that?
A: It was a coincidence. We were both in the the Great Hall of the People, and we met while many other members of national committee of the CPPCC were leaving. We were very happy. We talked about history, and our grandfathers. In April, 1928, Zhu De, leading the Nanchang revolutionary troops went to Jinggang mountain to meet with the forces under my grandfather’s command. That event was a turning point. We were both very excited. And we agreed to go to Jinggang mountain if we get the chance. But we do not see each other often.
Q: Are you in touch with other 'Red Descendants'?
A: I used to meet the grandson of Ren Bishi (任弼时), Ren Jining (任继宁) a lot. We are friends.
Q: As one of the Red Descendants, do the incumbent leaders of the country give you any special attention or favors?
A: Yes they do. Especially after last year when my father passed away. Since then, leaders of all levels are really concerned about us. Like this year I was selected to be a member of the CPPCC National Committee; it was authorized by general secretary Hu Jintao himself.
Q: The field of your research covers Mao Zedong thought and his military theories. You you are also a senior colonel in the PLA. Aside from your job and social activities, what is your daily life like?
A: I am fat, so I need to work out to lose some extra pounds. I go mountain climbing, swimming. My favorite sport is swimming. Besides that, I spend most my time reading.
Q: Some people say you used to be a slovenly person. When you were at university, you were unwilling to keep your bed tidy and therefore could not always meet the university requirements. Could you please introduce what kind of person you are in your daily life?
A: It’s not like that, it’s just because I was so focused on my studies. But now I also pay attention to my looks. I am changed.
Q: Could you talk a little about your family? Your mother's health, and your wife's job? How is your child?
A: My mother is very interested in photography. Actually she is quite a master in taking photos. She started by shooting my grandpa. Grandpa was very strict with her, so the photos could not be published outside of [the central leadership compound] Zhongnanhai. My mother’s first camera was brought back from the Soviet Union by my uncle Mao Anying (毛岸英). Mother also asks us to go to mountains to take pictures with her. I have accompanied her to many different places, like the Great Wall and other revolutionary spots. She also likes staged photography very much. She takes pictures of very different things and sometimes she let me and my wife and other people into a photographers' group with her. We have been to North Korea, New Zealand and Australia to shoot pictures. My son Mao Dongdong (毛东东) is 4 years old now.
Q: 2008 is the Olympic year, what do you think of our country's ability to hold the Games? Have you considered becoming an Olympic torch bearer?
A: I am looking forward to the Games. I will support Olympics in my own way, like issuing proposals for the Games, or cheering for the athletes. The Olympics do help me see the prosperity of our country and nation.
Q: Don’t you wish you could be the one to do the Olympic torch lighting ceremony?
A: Of course! I think the Olympics is a good way for communication between our China and the world. Moreover, it is an opportunity to develop friendship between our country and other countries. It is not easy. I was as happy as the others when we succeeded in the bid for the Olympic Games. Now we have been waiting a long long seven years, finally it is about to come true. I believe everyone is happy about this.
Q:Will you go to see the Games? What sports do you like?
A: I will. Although I do not know much about football, or basketball, I still like other sports like diving and swimming.
Q: Is there any athlete that you like very much?
A: Yao Ming
Q: Do you personally know him？
A: Yes, we are friends. And there is also Ye Qiaobo (叶乔波, Olympic gold medalist Chinese skater).
Q: Yao Ming was recently injured, did you send your regards to him?
A: I am very concerned but I believe Yao will perform well.
Q: As a military theory expert, what is your opinion on the cross-straits relationship ?
A: (Hesitating) This question… let’s not talk about it. (chuckling)
Q: Some descendants of famous people like Jiang Youbo, Jiang Youchang (蒋友柏, 蒋友常 — great grandsons of Chiang Kai-shek) went into business. What do you think of that?
A: Our family has been keeping our good tradition by studying Chairman Mao’s theories which are more important (than money).
Q: The super ministries plan was announced on the afternoon of March 11th. What do you think about it?
A: In order to develop economy better, the central government has made the right move to rearrange the institutions. Abolishing the Ministry of Communications and the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense makes the government more scientific. Another point is that people are more and more concerned with our living conditions, and the country makes a lot of effort on that too: seeking to solve thorny and urgent problems like environment protection, education, health care and labor protection in a more coordinated and holistic way. This gives new hope to our people. We are happy to see that the country is paying attention to these thorny and urgent problems.
Q: The proposal you have issued has to do with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Would you elaborate on it?
A: It consists of four parts. Firstly, at last year's 17th Party Congress, our country called for “promoting traditional Chinese culture and paying attention to people’s living standards”. One of the most important things about people’s living standards is health care. As early as 1956, Chairman Mao said that “combination and mutual development of Western and Chinese traditional medicine” should be the way. Now, as one of the core parts of Chinese culture, TCM is worth promoting. Moreover I have studied TCM as an amateur for two years, so I know it well. Now TCM is part of our excellent traditional culture, and it is taken very seriously abroad. Therefore I issued a proposal to add TCM to the curriculum at elementary and middle school level.
Q: What do you think elementary school kids could learn about TCM?
A: We can teach them to recognize some medicinal materials by showing them pictures, and strengthen the knowledge of food safety among elementary students so they can learn to protect themselves. For example, some students have eaten poisonous mushrooms because they could not identify them.
Q: Anything else in your proposal?
A: One thing that drew a lot of attention was my proposal to edit an new edition of Compendium of Materia Medica (本草纲目, a medical dictionary written by Li Shizhen 李时珍 in the Ming dynasty). As far as I know, in every flourishing dynasty throughout the history, the Compendium of Materia Medica was regularly updated. Now we are in another great era, so we should do it again. I pay a lot attention to this, because the Compendium of Materia Medica was such a great contribution by the greatest medical scientist Li Shizhen.
Q: Did everyone discuss your proposal?
A: I got a lot of positive response from other members, they are tremendously interested. Many of them discussed TCM with me. Yesterday afternoon, I met the minister of Public Health, he said he was so happy about my proposal. Our country has already embarked on this endeavor. For example, adding TCM classes in elementary schools, we have started doing this already.