Chinese newspapers Monday were filled with praise of the late Chairman Mao Tse-tung in an effort to keep his memory from being tainted by criticism of his widow, Jiang Qing.
Authorities said last week that the 77-year-old Jiang killed herself in May. She died in disgrace, having been arrested one month after Mao's death in 1976.The Communist Party blamed Jiang and three associates, jointly known as the "Gang of Four," for the violence and persecutions of the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution and played down Mao's key role in the radical leftist movement.
Historians say there was much truth in Jiang's statement that she was "Mao's dog. What he said to bite, I bit."
But an article in Saturday's Liberation Daily in Shanghai called Jiang the "chief culprit of the 10-year disaster," meaning the Cultural Revolution. It likened her to Hitler.
Neither the article nor the official announcement of Jiang's death mentioned that she was Mao's widow.
Most of Monday's articles on Mao omitted mention of Jiang.
The Liberation Army News, the military newspaper, carried a front-page article urging officers to "deeply study Mao Tse-tung's miltitary theory."
The Guangming Daily ran a lengthy analysis of Mao's contributions that conceded he made mistakes, but also accused Jiang's "counterrevolutionary clique" of distorting Mao's ideas.
The party decided in the early 1980s that Mao was "70 percent correct and 30 percent wrong" during his leadership. But his mistakes are rarely mentioned anymore.
The current leaders base their legitimacy on their claim to be carrying out "Mao thought," even though many were purged by Mao and their policies often run counter to what he taught.