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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Michael D. Higgins to lay wreath at Madame Mao's grave

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins is currently on an official shtate visit to the Peoples' Republic of China. A source close to the Department of Foreign Affairs has informed this blog that President Higgins's insistence that he visit the grave of Madame Mao (Jiang Qing) at Futian Cemetery in the western hills of Beijing, and lay a wreath there, has been the cause of some tension during his visit, the first by an Irish head of state since President McAleese popped in on them in 2003.

 
The inscription on Jiang Qing's grave, roughly translated, reads "Tomb of Late Mother, Li Yunhe, 1914–1991". The names she was best known by are not on her gravestone, as the Chinese authorities were, at the time of her suicide in 1991, afraid that her grave might be subjected to vandalism. Jiang Qing was jailed in 1980 for crimes committed during the Cultural Revolution, during which it's estimated roughly thirty million people died. 


Specifically, the charges against Jiang Qing "focused on her systematic persecution of creative artists during the Cultural Revolution. Amongst other things, she was accused of hiring 40 people in Shanghai to disguise themselves as Red Guards and ransack the homes of writers and performers."
Jiang Qing, supporting the arts

In a statement President Higgins said: "Jiang Qing had a great and genuine interest in the Arts, which I think deserves to be recognised and indeed honoured. She directed many operas and ballets, and played a vital role in arts adminstration in China between 1966 and Chairman Mao's death a decade later. It can surely be said that without Jiang Qing the arts in China would not have been what they were during that important period in China's history.
Since her tragic death in 1991, Jiang Qing has largely been seen as a mad auld one who went around the place shouting at people. But sure in Galway we love that kind of codology. I'll tell you, in my time, I've written letters in support of madder bastards than Jiang Qing. And my visit to her grave is exactly the sort of gesture which brings withered radicals in the sillier parts of my adopted city of Galway to sexual climax. Well, almost." 

And now for a poem.