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Shaoshan after reform and opening-up

By Liu Xiangrui (China Daily)

09:31, August 27, 2012

(Photo from China Daily)

Mao Zedong's lasting charisma has not only ensured Shaoshan village, where he grew up, has prospered into a popular tourist destination, but also has led to a boom in diverse Mao-themed products.

Today, souvenir stores line the roads in Shaoshan, with their interiors and fronts decorated with the late leader's statues, pictures and badges.

Many tourists and storeowners refuse to bargain for these souvenirs as it seems disrespectful, while many of the Mao-linked products have become famous.

For instance, the Mao-style braised pork dish, a life-long favorite, is now named after him.

It is said that before New China was founded, Mao would celebrate each victory of his army with a serving.

In Shaoshan, the dish appears to have more meaning than elsewhere.

Many locals favor the dish and they present it before Mao's statues, especially on important occasions like his birthday, according to villager Mao Xinhui, 42, who runs two small restaurants.

Nearly every restaurant in Shaoshan, from small home restaurants to large hotel canteens, makes the same dish as their signature specialty.

"I'm willing to try the dish because I'm curious about what Chairman Mao's favorite food tastes like," says 26-year-old Zhang Juyan, a Tianjin tourist who has collected a bunch of Mao-themed souvenirs from badges to car ornaments in her several visits to Shaoshan.

Most of the village's 450 households have started their own restaurants, inns or souvenir shops and earn a decent income from tourists.

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