China prepares to celebrate Mao Zedong's 120th birthday
Tuesday, December 24, 2013 - 01:17
Dec. 24 - Thirty-seven years after his death, the late Communist Party chairman Mao Zedong continues to hold great influence over the Chinese society. Sarah Toms reports.
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PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
The controversial legacy of China's former leader Mao Zedong comes under the spotlight on the eve of his 120th birthday.
A play looking at Mao's last meeting with his son, killed in action during the Korean War, has been staged in Beijing to commemorate the anniversary.
Attention to detail is paid right down to the wart.
But actor Han Zhong says playing Mao is no easy task.
(SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) PROFESSIONAL MAO ACTOR HAN ZHONG, SAYING:
"He is clear about what he loves and hates. Within the history of all of China's leaders, I think he's the only one who really had feelings for the common man. He's the first one who shouted 'long live the people'. So his feelings for the people were ingrained in him."
It's been 37 years since Mao's death at the age of 83 but still his legacy continues to divide opinions.
Mao, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, led the country for almost three decades.
He was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th Century, creating a unified China.
But after he launched the Cultural Revolution, millions of people were forced into labour camps and tens of thousands executed as counter-revolutionaries.
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