One unexpected image to surface in Tuesday’s demonstration was that of late party chairman Mao Zedong, in portraits carried by protesters and in Maoist references in chants and on banners. The spectacle of hundreds of Mao portraits held aloft recalled the days of traumatic upheaval during China’s Cultural Revolution and appeared to shock some.
“I don’t know why they are holding up Mao’s picture, to be honest,” said Yang Qingyang, 24, a protester marching in front of the embassy. “I think they are just feeling nostalgic about the past. I’m not into that myself.”
Many protesters said the invocations of Mao were meant to shame current leaders into standing up to foreign powers as Mao once did. However, the presence of those protesters, who seemed to have arrived in a group, also suggested an attempt by the leftist, Maoist wing of the party, among others, to use the anti-Japan rallies as an excuse to advocate for their fallen leader Bo Xilai.