A giant statue of Chairman Mao Zedong under construction in Tongxu county in Kaifeng, central China's Henan province. The statue reportedly measures 120 feet in height and is located in Zhushigang village. (AFP photo)
The legacy of Chairman Mao Zedong continues to inspire his supporters four decades after his death, with a giant gold-painted statue of China's Communist Party founder at the cost of a whopping $460,000.
The 36 metre-high statute made up of concrete and steel has been installed in an open countryside in Tongxu county near Kaifeng in the central Henan province by farmers and local entrepreneurs who funded its construction.
Villagers said many tourists had come to have their photographs taken with the landmark, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported today.
The Post also carried an image of the gold-painted statue that has the man who ruled China with an iron grip for nearly three decades seated with his hands crossed.
The statue was erected even though China moved away from his hardline Marxist ideology opting for market reforms.
It came up amid reports of disquiet in the Communist Party of China (CPC) about efforts by die-hard Mao supporters to revive his controversial legacy which left millions of dead in various campaigns specially the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) aimed at purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements to establish a social order based on Marxist ideology.
While China during his period struggled with high rates of poverty, it moved away from his hardline ideology with a broad range of economic reforms, carried out by his successor Deng Xiaoping, which were largely credited for achieving record economic growth, catapulting it to become the world's second largest economy.
The leaders of the CPC in the last three decades including the present President Xi Jinping are the supporters of Deng's reform and opening up policy while revering Mao as founder of the party and modern China.
Thousands had gathered last month at Mao's hometown Shaoshan county in Hunan to celebrate his 122nd birthday during which several people criticised the reversal of his ideology.
Yuan Yuhua, a Maoist and self-educated scholar, said supporters of Mao's political ideas were increasingly viewed with suspicion by the authorities.
"Most Maoist gatherings in other places are suppressed, causing more leftists to come here," he said.
"In the past two years, leftist gatherings to commemorate Mao have dwindled, in part due to official interference," the Post quoted him as saying.
Mao died on September 9, 1976 at the age of 82.