The recent promotion of Mao Xinyu, the only grandson of Mao Zedong, was, according to experts, an attempt by the Hu Jintao regime to balance political sensitivities at the highest levels of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
Mao, who holds a string of official titles in the Party apparatus, including deputy director of the Strategic Studies Department of the Academy of Military Sciences of the People’s Liberation Army, member of the Standing Committee of the All-China Youth Federation, and committee member of the National Committee of the Political Consultative Conference, was officially promoted to major general of the People’s Liberation Army on July 20, thus becoming China's youngest major general.
The promotion has been regarded as a compromise among factions, whereby Mao is used as a sort of decoration to placate traditional communist political forces. “I sense that Hu Jintao's regime is assigning the young Mao the role of a crown prince; also, promoting him to this role will demonstrate Hu's loyalty to Mao Zedong's relatives and his loyalty to Mao Zedong's political thought,” said Yang Meizhong, a China expert at the Japan-based Mitsubishi Research Institute.
Hu Jintao is attempting to “unite and ensure his own position within different factions of the CCP,” according to Mr. Yang.
The first indications of Mao’s promotion came on July 29, when he took his wife and son to visit the ancient city of Zhaohua in China's southwest Sichuan Province. The official photos show Mao wearing a major general uniform, the shoulder straps revealing for the first time the promotion to major general.
Official confirmation came five days later. On August 2, 2010, a spokesman at the Academy of Military Sciences confirmed the promotion to the Global Times, the Communist Party’s mouthpiece for external propaganda. The spokesman did not reveal when Mao was promoted, but commented that the rise in rank was “natural,” as the 40-year-old’s “many achievements earned him the right to be promoted.”
Whether Mao Xinyu’s promotion was related to the still privileged status of revolutionary leader Mao Zedong—whose policies lead to the deaths and persecution of tens of millions—was a question of contention to some as it smacked of state-sponsored nepotism.
One citizen still under the spell of antiquated Mao Zedong political theories commented, "To have him promoted is not only necessary, but a must, because he might lead the people on the great path to socialism. He has come up through the ranks and deserves this promotion."
Mao himself, however, was more open. In an interview with China's popular website Net Ease, he admitted that his family background was "definitely a factor. This is an objective fact you can't avoid."
The news that Mao had been promoted was reported in September, 2009 by the Standard in Hong Kong. That report, however, appears to have been premature, as Mao's promotion was officially announced in China's state-run media as having taken place July 20, 2010.
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