Enamored for almost half a century by their late dogmatic Communist leader Mao Tse-tung, Chinese companies enriched by successful economic reforms since his death are cashing in on his image.

Chairman Mao would have turned 99 on Dec. 26, but already companies, artists and the state are using his 100th birthday as a pretext to manufacture a wealth of products for China's ever-wealthier consumers.This week's festivities include a ceremony to announce publication of a new book on Mao the man, and an art show devoted to oil paintings using Mao as a model. Mao would have cringed at being a merchandizing tool.

A state-run publishing house became the latest in a long line of companies to produce coffee-table books or other memorabilia about the man who led Communist forces to victory in China's civil war in the late 1940s, then ruled the country with an iron fist until his death in 1976 at 82. Mao would have been 100 next year.

Central Literature Publishing House has published a 130-picture photo album of "The Great Helmsman," as Mao was known, edited by Mao's daughter Li Min, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported Sunday.

And at a private Beijing art gallery this week, top leaders, including Mao's daughter-in-law, cel-e-brated the opening of an art show dedicated to his 100th birthday. Mao's grandson, graduate student Mao Xinyu, was also at the opening, according to those pres-ent.

"Mao's son, Mao Anqing, wrote the calligraphy for the exhibition," said one gallery official. "But he couldn't come to the opening - he is not well."