BEIJING — China's leaders bowed three times before a statue of Mao Zedong on the 120th anniversary of his birth Thursday in carefully controlled celebrations that also sought to uphold the market-style reforms he would have opposed.
As heirs of the authoritarian one-party political system imposed by Mao and his party comrades, the current leadership has a strong interest in venerating his memory to bolster their own legitimacy. But they have also pledged to undertake market overhauls needed to rejuvenate a slowing economy, measures that would have been anathema to Mao.
President and Communist Party chief Xi Jinping and other top leaders paid tribute to the founder of the communist state with a visit to his mausoleum on Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital, Beijing, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The leaders "revered" Mao's embalmed body which lies in state in the mausoleum and "jointly recalled the glorious achievements of comrade Mao Zedong," Xinhua reported.