Chinese sprint cycling gold medallists Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi are being heavily criticized on social media platforms for sporting Mao Zedong badges during a medal ceremony on August 2. Such display of political propaganda is a potential breach of the Olympic rules under Article 50 of the Olympic charter.
Why wear Mao Badge in #Olympics is not ok？— 巴丢草 Badiucao (@badiucao) August 3, 2021
Its a symbol for China‘s deadly cultural revolution.
And Mao is a dictator who killls tens of millions people including my grandparents with his crazy social engineering and political persecution for personal power obsession. https://t.co/m7icLKKkVC
Last month, the International Olympic Committee had relaxed Article 50 to allow athletes to showcase gestures like taking the knee. However, they can only do so without causing any disruption or disrespect to fellow competitors. Notably, politics on the podium is still not allowed.
Though the Mao badges have faced criticism from people and media in other countries, many in China are even supporting them, praising the athletes for sporting the badges.
The IOC is also investigating a gesture made by American athlete Raven Saunders after she won a silver medal in the shot put event on August 1. She raised her arms, forming X above her head, showing support for the racially oppressed. However, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) stood by her and said it did not breach the rules as it was a “peaceful expression in support of racial and social justice (that) was respectful of her competitors”.
Saunders’ gesture is being appreciated by mainstream US media.
Raven Saunders 🇺🇸, who delivered the first political demonstration on the podium at #Tokyo2020, said on Monday that American athletes have been planning their protest for weeks and decided on X as a symbol to represent unity with oppressed people. https://t.co/Xa5BLQ0ctZ pic.twitter.com/kY5fGShKYm— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 3, 2021
The case of Chinese athletes is, however, a bit different as the Chinese communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China, Mao, was responsible for disastrous policies that led to the death of millions of people in China.
A brief profile of the Chinese mass murderer
Born into a family of peasants in Shaoshan, Huan, Central China, on December 26, 1893, Mao Zedong was trained as a teacher. After his training, he travelled to Beijing and worked in the University Library. During that time, he came across Marxist literature and later, in 1921, he became the founder member of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1923, Kuomintang (KMT) nationalist party joined hands with CCP and defeated the warlords that were in control of the majority of northern China.
Later in 1927, Chiang Kai-Shek, KMT, launched an anti-communist drive. Mao and his associates had to retreat to south-east China. In 1934, KMT surrounded Mao and others, which resulted in Long March led by Mao to northwest China. They travelled around 6,000 miles to establish a new base.
During the 8-years-long war with Japan, KMT and Communists again came together, but after the end of World War II, civil war broke between the two groups. The Communists emerged as the winners, and on October 1, 1949, Mao founded the People’s Republic of China. As a result, Chiang Kai-Shek fled to Taiwan.
The reshaping of Chinese society
Mao’s leadership was ruthless as his aim was to reshape Chinese society. The state took over the ownership of the industry, and the farmers became more organized in collectives. If there was any opposition to his leadership, it was mercilessly suppressed. Initially, Soviet Union helped Mao’s government, but as time passed by, their relationship went cold.
The disastrous policies under the ‘Great Leap Forward’
Whatever progress Chinese Communists were making was not enough for Mao. In an attempt to introduce a more ‘Chinese’ form of communism, he introduced the ‘Great Leap Forward’ program in 1958. The aim was to mass mobilize the labour to improve industrial production and agriculture. The program was a deadly combination of disastrous farming practices that included the conversion of profitable tea plantations to rice fields, lies about grain production and massively mismanaged distribution of the food produce across the country.
As a result, from 1959 to 1961, China suffered disastrous famines. It is believed that anywhere between 30 million to 40 million people died during this period.
The suppression of the voices resulting in a million deaths
Mao saw revolutionary sentiments rising in the country and waged another war against his own people in the name of the Cultural Revolution. Red Guards, which comprised young men and women between the ages of 14 to 21, roamed around the cities. They targeted revisionists and other alleged enemies of the state. The teachers became the top targets of such groups.
While many were threatened or smeared with ink and forced down on all fours and bark like dogs, some of the teachers and professors were beaten to death. At one point, when these groups went out of hand, Red Army was called to control the Red Guards as they have started attacking Communist Party leaders. However, by the time it ended, one million Chinese had died.
Forced labour camps that killed over 20 million
During the period of 1950s to 1980s, Mao continued to run 1,000 forced labour camps across China. Around 50 million Chinese passed through these camps, and 20 million of them had died due to inhumane living conditions and 14-hour workdays.
On September 9, 1976, Mao died but left the legacy of ruthless leader that still haunts ethnic groups of China.