72 years after his demise, Mao Anying is trending on Weibo. “Remembering Comrade Mao Anying’s a hundredth Birthday” grew to become a well-liked hashtag on Weibo on October 24. Numerous official Chinese language channels, together with World Occasions and the Communist Youth League, promoted the hashtag of their posts and included movies displaying previous footage that includes Mao Anying (毛岸英, 1922-1950), the first-born son of Mao Zedong and his second spouse, Yang Kaihui.
“Let’s keep in mind! In 1950 on November 25, at simply 28 years previous, Mao Anying sacrificed his life on the North Korean battlefield, Peng Dehuai known as him the primary soldier of the volunteer military,” the Communist Youth League wrote on Weibo.
There was a renewed give attention to Mao Zedong’s son Mao Anying, who died on the Korean Battle battlefield on the age of 28 in 1950. A widespread on-line publicity marketing campaign went trending this week, speaking why & how Mao Anying needs to be remembered. Learn: https://t.co/rlRf2YxZWT pic.twitter.com/6SXTJbqc6M
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) October 27, 2022
Through the Korean Battle, the Chinese language authorities, led by Mao Zedong, despatched troops to battle within the conflict, and Mao’s son Mao Anying joined the Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteer Military.
It’s stated that Chinese language army chief Peng Dehuai didn’t need Mao Anying to hitch, considering it was far too harmful for him, however Mao allegedly disagreed: “Who will go if my son doesn’t?” (Davin, Ch. 4).
Mao Anying was killed in motion by an American air strike a month after the beginning of this three-year conflict in opposition to US aggression in help of North Korea. He left behind his spouse Liu Siqi (刘思齐), whom he had simply married the yr earlier than his demise.
Mao Anying’s brief life was undoubtedly not all roses. He was not involved along with his father for many of his youthful years as Mao Zedong misplaced contact along with his spouse Yang Kaihui when little Anying was simply round 5 years previous.
Mao Anying had two brothers.* His youthful brother Mao Anlong (毛岸龙, 1927-1931) died because of dysentery when he was nonetheless a toddler. A policeman badly beat his different brother Mao Anqing (毛岸青, 1924-2007) within the Thirties which is claimed to have contributed to him being identified with schizophrenia in a while in life.
In 1930, their mom was executed in Changsha by nationalist forces after allegedly refusing to denounce Mao and the Communist Occasion. After residing on the streets in Shanghai for some years, Mao Anying and his brother Mao Anqing had been situated by the Occasion and despatched to the Soviet Union to get an schooling (Davin 2013, Ch. 2).
Mao Anying grew to become a Russian translator for Peng Dehuai through the Korean Battle and was positioned on the Taeyudong headquarters in North Korea within the fall of 1950. As American bomb assaults began to come back dangerously near the headquarters, Mao Anying was made to go to a cave system that functioned as a bomb shelter however, for some purpose, joined two others to a close-by hut the subsequent day, which is the place he was bombed.
After Mao Anying was killed, Mao Zedong allegedly stated that “it was his misfortune to be Mao Zedong’s son” (Davin 2013, Ch. 4; Forbes 2010, 12).
In 1990, when workers was sorting by means of Mao Zedong’s belongings, they found that he had at all times stored a small assortment of his son’s belongings with him: two neatly folded t-shirts, one pair of socks, a army cap, and a towel. This story was shared on social media by official channels on October 24 of 2021 (#毛泽东默默收藏多年的毛岸英遗物#).
The Forbidden Egg Fried Rice Meme
One a part of Mao Anying’s demise that has turn into an ongoing, urban-legend-kind-of on-line story is that he supposedly disobeyed military guidelines and cooked egg fried rice on the Chinese language headquarters. The smoke of the fireplace supposedly alerted the enemy and led to the bombing wherein he would lose his life.
Though shedding his favourite son – and his potential successor – was a tragedy to Mao Zedong, some Chinese language are much less remorseful concerning the younger Mao by no means making it dwelling, arguing that he might have continued Mao Zedong’s ruthless reign after his demise.
The anniversary of Mao Anying’s demise has due to this fact come to be celebrated by some netizens as “Egg Fried Rice Day” (蛋炒饭节) or “Chinese language Thanksgiving” (中国感恩节), because it’s near the American Thanksgiving. China Digital Occasions has a ‘digital house’ web page dedicated to the web protest and meme in a single, writing that consuming egg fried rice is one the day’s ‘traditions.’
A couple of years in the past, the delicate nature of this meme grew to become clear when a Chinese language celeb chef with many social media followers uploaded a video on October 25 on methods to put together Yangzhou-style fried rice. As described by Dennis E. Yi (2020), the chef was accused of “humiliating China” because of the alleged – and doubtless unintentional – connection to the Mao Anying rumors.
In 2021, the social media account of a Jiangsu department of China Unicom was shut down after it posted an egg fried rice recipe on October 24.
In the identical yr, China’s Our on-line world launched an official listing together with “rumors and pretend data” associated to the historical past of the Communist Occasion of China, together with “key info on revolutionary leaders, heroes and historic occasions.”
This listing was compiled and revealed as a way to “set up an accurate view of the historical past of the Occasion and oppose historic nihilism” (Global Times 2021). The declare that Mao Anying died as a result of he uncovered himself whereas he was getting ready fried rice with eggs was included on this listing and was formally declared a rumor.
When the Korean war-themed film The Battle at Lake Changjin grew to become a serious hit in fall of 2021, one Weibo person wrote that “fried rice was the perfect factor to come back out of the entire Korean Battle,” after which they had been jailed for ten days for “impeaching the status of heroes and martyrs.”
“Why Do We Bear in mind Mao Anying?”
The current widespread state media marketing campaign surrounding Mao Anying’s birthday is noteworthy. One Weibo post by Changjiang Every day (长江日报) says:
“He’s Mao Zedong’s son, he’s the primary soldier of the Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteer Military, and he sacrificed his life with honor and glory on the North Korean battlefield. He’s like his father and put his personal flesh and blood into revolutionary work. His title was Mao Anying. At present, allow us to commemorate our comrade Mao Anying collectively.”
The identical wording was additionally utilized in posts by different official channels, together with by the Chinese language police power, Wuhan Metropolis, Guangdong Metropolis, Ningxia, Nanchong Public Safety, and plenty of, many others.
State media outlet Individuals’s Every day promoted the hashtag “Mao Anying Was the First Volunteer Soldier of the Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteer Military” (#毛岸英是中国人民志愿军第一个志愿兵#), with different hashtags surrounding the commemoration of his birthday additionally circulating on Chinese language social media, together with “Why Do We Bear in mind Mao Anying” (#我们为何纪念毛岸英#) and “Commemorating the a hundredth Birthday of Mao Anying” (#纪念毛岸英同志诞辰百年#).
The commemoration of Mao Anying’s a hundredth birthday went trending proper after the ending of the twentieth Occasion Congress and comes at a time when there’s a renewed give attention to remembering the Korean Battle (1950-1953).
The Korean Battle, known as ‘the Battle to Resist America and Assist Korea’ (抗美援朝战争), has turn into an vital and recurring theme in a number of Chinese language movie productions, collection, museums, and political occasions lately.
The 2020 film The Sacrifice (金刚川), starring ‘Wolf Warrior’ actor Wu Jing, depicts the Korean Battle from completely different views and focuses on the heroic position of extraordinary troopers. An exhibition on the Chinese language Navy Museum concerning the “superb course and nice achievements of the Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteer Military” opened in 2020 as a part of the seventieth anniversary of the beginning of the conflict. In 2021, the Cemetery for Martyrs of the Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteers held a burial ceremony for 109 Chinese language troopers whose stays had been returned by South Korea after seven many years (Conrad 2020; GT 2021).
However what has made essentially the most influence on Chinese language audiences is the 2021 blockbuster movie The Battle at Lake Changjin, which supplies a Chinese language perspective on the beginning of the Korean Battle and the lead-up and unfolding of the battle of Chosin Reservoir, a large floor assault of the Chinese language ninth Military Group in opposition to American forces. The Chinese language assault at Chosin is remembered as an excellent victory and strategic success for turning across the conflict state of affairs in Korea and resulting in a withdrawal of a lot of the UN forces by late 1950.
The film’s narrative and script recurringly underline why this specific historic occasion shouldn’t be forgotten by the Chinese language folks. In one of many movie’s earlier scenes, Mao Zedong talks to army chief Peng Dehuai within the days main as much as China’s determination to ship out troops to North Korea, saying:
“[Our] nation is newly established and hundreds of issues are ready to be executed. If it’s for our present state of affairs, I actually don’t need to battle this conflict. But when it’s for the longer term, and the peaceable growth of our nation over just a few many years or a century, we should battle this conflict. The foreigners look down on us. Delight can solely be earned on the battlefield.”
It’s a scene that’s telling for the narrative the film conveys concerning the Chosin battle and the conflict at giant, throughout which the Chinese language troops had been severely underestimated by the well-equipped U.N. forces.
After the ‘Century of Humiliation,’ the time from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s throughout which China was attacked, weakened, and torn by international forces, the Korean Battle and Chosin battle confirmed that the army energy of the Individuals’s Republic of China was a brand new power to be reckoned with. By displaying this energy, China didn’t simply save the North Korean regime but additionally defended its personal borders and the nation’s status.
The willpower and preventing spirit of the Chinese language troopers at Chosin as depicted within the film – one spectacular scene reveals dozens of troopers frozen into “ice sculptures” whereas nonetheless in battle posture – struck a chord with Chinese language audiences.
As a part of this ‘re-remembrance’ of the Korean Battle in China, Mao Anying has been positioned extra prominently within the media highlight.
The award-winning Battle at Lake Changjing additionally features a scene displaying how Mao Anying expresses his want to be part of the military. After Peng Dehuai shares his disagreement, Mao Zedong comes out and says: “Let him go.” (You possibly can watch the scene together with English subtitles here.)
Though there already was a Chinese language 34-episode TV drama devoted to Mao Anying in 2010, the identical yr wherein a statue of him was revealed by the North Korean border, the collection centered extra on the “particular bond between father and son” and Mao Anying’s marriage to Liu Siqi, because the script was additionally partly based mostly on Liu’s memoirs (Beijing Leisure Information 2010; CNR 2010).
It was not till extra just lately that Mao Anying’s legacy was formally and explictly contextualized inside the body of the victorious Korean Battle, particularly emphasizing the sacrifice Mao Anying made for his nation.
In 2020 and in 2021, official Chinese language channels started to actively promote tales about Mao Anying and his legacy on social media. The Chinese language Historic Analysis Institute revealed the hashtag “The seventieth Anniversary of Mao Anying Sacrificing His Life” (#毛岸英牺牲70周年#) in 2020, the identical yr when Chinese language media featured posts concerning the ‘egg fried rice’ tales being “pure fabrications” and the necessity to “restore historic reality concerning the sacrifice of the martyr Mao Anying,”
Individuals’s Every day, for instance, launched the hashtag “Mao Anying Was Solely 28 Years Previous When He Sacrificed His Life” (#毛岸英牺牲时年仅28岁#) in 2021. In the identical yr, Communist Youth League promoted the hashtag “71 Years Since Mao Anying Sacrificed His Life” (#毛岸英牺牲71周年#) and that the hashtag “Martyr Mao Anying Sacrificed His Life 71 Years In the past” (#毛岸英烈士牺牲71周年#) was launched, together with the slogan “Mao Anying Was the First Soldier of the Chinese language Volunteer Military” (#毛岸英是志愿军第一名战士#).
The elevated curiosity in Mao Anying can be seen when trying up search question developments within the Chinese language search engine Baidu by way of their Baidu Index instrument. Over the previous 5 years, there was a gradual enhance in folks trying to find the key phrase ‘Mao Anying,’ with absolutely the peak in reputation of the search engine coinciding with the discharge of the Battle at Lake Changjin movie.
The Baidu search engine instrument additionally reveals how there’s a correlation between the phrases ‘Korean Battle’ and ‘Mao Anying’, as they each see peaks in reputation on the identical time (blue line is Mao, inexperienced line is Korean Battle).
Remembering Mao Anying, The Proper Manner on the Proper Time
In remembering Mao Anying and incorporating his legacy into China’s collective reminiscence within the context of the Korean Battle, a number of dynamics come collectively on the identical time.
The ‘Battle to Resist US Aggression and Assist Korea’ or China’s total participation within the Korean Battle is described as a “nice victory” in preventing in opposition to the U.S. forces and as a “sound basis” for China’s growth as a newly established nation “at a time when it was reasonably backward and in dire want of a full-scale reconstruction.” As state media outlet World Occasions (2021) writes:
“This success ensured a peaceable growth setting for China and secured the worldwide status of the Chinese language army by means of the conflict. The spirit of all younger women and men who sacrificed for the nation through the conflict was inherited.”
This particular sort of remembrance, wherein Mao Anying performs a particular position as “the primary soldier to sacrifice his life,” comes at a time when Occasion ideology is powerful, and is particularly emphasised within the 2020-2022 interval throughout vital occasions such because the seventieth anniversary of begin of the Korean Battle, the a hundredth anniversary of the Communist Occasion of China, and the twentieth Occasion Congress.
In Xi Jinping’s ideas on China’s New Period and the journey in the direction of a rejuvenated nation, you see a extra assertive China and extra give attention to the nation’s army energy and Occasion ideology (additionally see here and here).
Inside this context, Mao Anying’s sacrifice for China’s future through the Korean Battle is extra vital than even earlier than, particularly in mild of escalating political tensions between the U.S. and China, accompanied by an increase of Chinese language nationalism.
It’s due to this fact maybe no coincidence that every one the aforementioned issues, from the launch of the Battle at Lake Changjin movie, to the brand new remembering of Mao Anying on social media and the official itemizing of Mao Anying-related rumors as fabrications, came about inside the final two to a few years.
It’s the ‘proper’ time to commemmorate Mao Anying for the ‘proper’ causes: not simply because he was Mao Zedong’s son or Liu Siqi’s husband, however as a result of he was a Occasion chief’s son who joined the Chinese language Volunteer Military and devoted his life to “defending the nation, serving the folks, and strengthening the military” (China Navy On-line 2021).
“I salute you, hero,” one recurring widespread comment on Weibo says. “Bear in mind each hero who labored for the happiness of individuals in a New China!”
“He was a hero of the folks,” others write: “You’ll by no means be forgotten.”
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By Manya Koetse
* Apart from having three sons along with his second spouse Yang Kaihui, Mao Zedong would go on to have three daughters and three sons with He Zizhen, of which most both died younger or had been separated from their dad and mom, and one daughter along with his fourth spouse Jiang Qing.
References (different main sources included in textual content by means of hyperlinks)
Beijing Leisure Information 北京娱乐信报. 2010. “TV Collection “Mao Anying” involves CCTV, specializing in the love between father and son [电视剧《毛岸英》登陆央视 聚焦父子情]” (In Chinese language). 北京娱乐信报, October 18 https://xmas.sohu.com/20101018/n275860939.shtml [Oct 27, 2022].
China Navy On-line. 2021. “Mao Anying, forging forward courageously and in opposition to all odds.” China Navy, June 29 http://eng.chinamil.com.cn/2021special/2021-06/29/content_10056685.htm [Oct 27, 2022].
CNR (China Nationwide Radio) 中广网. 2010. “Liu Siqiu: The TV Collection ‘Mao Anying’ Is My Present to Him [刘思齐：电视剧《毛岸英》是我送岸英的礼物]” (In Chinese language). 中广网, October 21 http://www.taiwan.cn/plzhx/zht/201010/t20101021_1569029.htm [Oct 27, 2022].
Conrad, Jennifer. 2020. “70 years on, how China sees the Korean Battle.” The China Undertaking, Oct 14 https://thechinaproject.com/2020/10/14/70-years-on-how-china-sees-the-korean-war/ [Oct 27, 2022].
Davin, Delia. 2013. Mao: A Very Brief Introduction. Oxford: Oxford College Press. (Purchase here).
Forbes, Cameron. 2010. The Korean Battle – Australia within the Giants’ Playground. Sydney: MacMillan.
World Occasions. 2021. “Sacrifices from CPC’s younger heroes, previous and current, proceed to encourage new generations.” World Occasions, July 8 https://www.globaltimes.cn/web page/202107/1228123.shtml [Oct 27, 2022].
World Occasions. 2021. “China releases listing of rumors on Occasion historical past, martyrs to battle historic nihilism.” World Occasions, July 16 https://www.globaltimes.cn/web page/202107/1228819.shtml [Oct 27, 2022].
World Occasions. 2021. “Stays of 109 Chinese language Individuals’s Volunteers troopers return from South Korea to China.” World Occasions, Sep 2 https://www.globaltimes.cn/web page/202109/1233202.shtml [Oct 27, 2022].
Yi, Dennis E. 2020. “Fried rice backlash: Why Chinese language web customers turned on a celeb chef.” The China Undertaking, November 11 https://thechinaproject.com/2020/11/11/fried-rice-backlash-why-chinese-internet-users-turned-on-a-celebrity-chef/ [Oct 27, 2022].
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