All the countries in the world have had their share of great leaders, politicians, socialists and genius personalities who were responsible in bringing revolutionary changes in their countries. Be it Nelson Mandela who fought against aartheid for the freedom of South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi who through non-violence made India gain freedom from the British rule or Martin Luther King who fought for advancements of civil rights in America, all of these people have positively made an influence on the progress and ideologies of their respective countries. Mao Zedong was a Chinese statesman who made a great impact on Chinese society and whose ideologies to large extent are still followed in this country.
One leader who has dominated the political and social ideologies of China is Mao Zedong who even after his death still continues to haunt the new regime of China and its society. Born on 26th December 1893, he is also known as Mao Tse Tung according to Wade-Giles transliteration. Mao was an expert Marxist theorist, poet and a statesman of great strength who single handedly made possible the debacle of foreign supremacy of China. He led China’s communist revolution in the 20th century. After the victory of Communist Party of China’s military force over Kuomintang during Chinese Civil War, Mao made the announcement of People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949 at the historical and culturally important Tiananmen Square located in Beijing. Mao Zedong was possessed with the idea of a strong and affluent China and passionately worked towards making his country modern and industrially successful. But his socio-political programs such as the Great Leap forward, Anti Rightist Campaign or the Cultural Revolution went against China’s prosperity and stunted the development process of the country which led to starvation causing the deaths of ten million Chinese.
Mao Zedong died on 9th September, 1976, in Beijing. The corpse of Mao Zedong has been placed in the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall which is also referred as Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, or the Mao Mausoleum. Mao had always wished for cremation after his death but instead his body was rested after embalming in a specially constructed mausoleum. This place is located exactly at the center of Tiananmen Square. Also known as Great Helmsman, Mao’s corpse is put on display for public visit everyday and peoples from all over the world visit this place regularly in thousands. The entrance is at the north side and a souvenir shop is located near the exit door on the south. The Memorial Hall was constructed on September 9, 1976 immediately after the demise of Mao and all the citizens of Republic of China contributed in this construction with more than 700,000 people from different regions and nations participating as voluntary labor.
The Chinese obtained the secret of embalming from the Vietnamese who had acquired it from the Russians. But when it came to preparing crystal coffin, even Vietnam could not be of any help as the procedure was possessed only by the Russians who were dead against China and its policies right from the beginning. Moreover, the raw material Quartz which is vital for the creation of crystal coffin was not available in China easily. And the largest one that was available was shorter than 40 cm whereas the coffin required a piece of 2 meters. Equipment shortage was another problem that created hurdle in the production of crystal coffin. Finally, the 608th factory staff found out a single West German 2 meter precision machine at the Machine Tool Factory along with eight milling machines of planer type. Since the machine was not perfectly fit for fulfilling the requirements, huge hours of production were sacrificed to meet up the standard required to make Mao Zedong Crystal Coffin.
Since China did not possess the technology of embalming at the time of Mao’s death, lot of time was wasted before the technology was obtained from Vietnam. Hence, questions have been raised every now and then regarding the authenticity of Mao Zedong's body. Many visitors who have viewed Mao Zedong's corpse are not certain whether it is Mao’s body in real as the body has wax coating applied in excess which makes it impossible to clearly identify the features. Moreover, the visitors are not allowed to view the corpse beyond few minutes which evokes suspicion in the mind of the visitors. The visiting hours are already less which is further cut down during summer due to which a debate has been going on that either the body is not of Mao Zedong's or if it is at all real, it is decaying fast.