Mao's granddaughter keeps memory alive in bookshop

Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:28am EDT
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By Maxim Duncan

BEIJING (Reuters Life!) - Mao Zedong is still a force to be reckoned with in China, nearly six decades after he founded the People's Republic, and his granddaughter is making the most of her grandfather's often controversial appeal.

Kong Dongmei, 37, runs a bookshop dedicated to the memory of the late Communist leader whose face adorns everything from T-shirts to coffee cups.

Kong, who also owns a company aimed at protecting Communist culture, says her shop, located in Beijing's fashionable 798 art district, aims to preserve Mao's memory while giving a sense of the real man.

"I want to give the historical truth. He wasn't just a great man; he was also a normal person. He was also a husband, a father and a son," she told Reuters.

"I want to show a truthful and objective history, regardless of whether he was right or wrong. I hope to give visitors an accurate representation. For me that is very important."

Kong's mother Li Min was one of Mao's three daughters, born to his second wife He Zizhen.

Kong, who keeps a low profile and rarely speaks to the media, declined to answer questions about Mao's relationship with her grandmother, who many historians say endured her husband's extra-marital affairs, fell ill and was sent to the Soviet Union for psychiatric treatment.

She also declined to talk about China's politics, but said she was not surprised her grandfather, just like revolutionary leader Che Guevara, had become an icon in China's growing consumer culture.   Continued...

<p>Monitor cameras work in front of the giant portrait of Chairman Mao Zedong on Beijing's Tiananmen Square, September 28, 2009. cades of the People's Republic. REUTERS/Jason Lee</p>