Thousands of people, from State leaders to farmers, gathered yesterday for the funeral of Mao Zedong's second son, Mao Anqing, who died on March 23 at the age of 84.
Mourners, many dressed in military uniform, queued up quietly outside the memorial hall at the Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in western Beijing to pay their last respects to the last surviving son of Mao Zedong.
In addition, dozens of people from Russia, Japan, Cuba, Vietnam and Tanzania also attended the memorial service, as did Mao Anqing's wife, Shao Hua, and other close relatives.
Mao Anqing was born in 1923 in Central China's Hunan Province. He was one of the three sons of Mao Zedong and his former wife Yang Kaihui.
"Mao Anqing didn't have an eminent official position. Nor did he possess a great fortune. But he deserves all the respect, and we will miss him," said Zhao Fengzhang, a middle-aged man from North China's Hebei Province.
Compared with his elder brother Mao Anying, who was a household name after being killed in 1950 by a bomb in Korean War where he served in the volunteer army, Mao Anqing remained largely unknown to many Chinese.
Mao Anqing's mother was killed by a local warlord when he was only 7 years old. He and his brothers Mao Anying and Mao Anlong were then secretly transferred to Shanghai. His younger brother Anlong died soon after.
During the five years they lived in Shanghai, Mao Anqing and his brother were homeless and made a living selling newspapers. It has been reported that the Shanghai experience left Mao Anqing with both physical and psychological damage.
In 1936, Mao Anqing and Mao Anying were sent to study in Moscow. In 1947, Mao Anqing returned to China and joined the Communist Party of China (CPC).
He started working in a remote county in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, where he participated in land reform.
In July 1949, Mao Anqing returned to Beijing and began working as a Russian translator in the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.
He translated into Chinese a dozen works on Marxism and Leninism as well as many other literary and academic books.
Throughout his lifetime, Mao Anqing and his family managed to keep a low profile and were rarely seen in public.
Late in his life, it was reported that Mao Anqing and his wife frequently visited old revolutionary bases and impoverished areas to help poor school dropouts return to school.
"He was a loving father, and a man who said little but did a lot," Shao Hua was quoted as saying in Monday's edition of the Liberation Army Daily.
"Throughout his life, he was dedicated to working for the people and the country ... His contributions are unknown to the public. He is a low-profile hero and a really good man," a veteran soldier who was close to Mao Anqing said.
Many people have also taken to the Internet to pay their respects to the recently deceased.
"Thirty years ago, the death of your father threw us into deep grief. Now we are experiencing the same sorrow," one anonymous netizen wrote on an online forum.
"Many Chinese people transferred their emotional attachment to Mao Zedong to his offspring," said Liu Genqun, who woke at 5 am to attend Mao Anqing's funeral.
With a bouquet in one hand and a bust of Mao Zedong in the other, the 56-year-old farmer from suburban Beijing said he had owned the bust for more than 40 years.
By 10 am, more than 5,000 copies of a document containing a brief account of Mao Anqing's life had been distributed at the memorial service.
In the document, Mao Anqing is described as "an outstanding member of the Communist Party of China, a long-tested and loyal fighter for communism, an extraordinary translator of Marxist and Leninist works and a renowned researcher on Mao Zedong Thought."
Source: China Daily