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Worshiping China's Mao Zedong at his ...
Shaoshan, China
By Nicola Zolin
24 Dec 2014

As leadership in the Chinese Communist Party continues to broaden and sharpen its crackdown on liberal thought and criticism of the Maoist system under President Xi Jinping; veneration of the country's historical leader, Mao Zedong, has taken an even more central role in Chinese cultural politics.

A recent New York Times article by Chris Buckley and Andrew Jacobs cites the traditionalist politics of Mr. Xi, saying that under his administration Maoist ideologues have ben emboldened, especially by "internal party decrees that have declared open season on Chinese academics, artists and party cadres seen as insufficiently red." These "ideologues," though the role of these former party cadres and leftist intellectuals is circumscribed, are now re-working Marxist philosophy and Maoist ideology to reverse the changes brought about in China by globalization and free-market economics. They have become the party's "party’s eager ideological inquisitors," Buckley and Jacobs write.

The Times cites Zhang Hongliang, a prominent neo-Maoist, saying, “It’s a golden period to be a leftist in China. Xi Jinping has ushered in a fundamental change to the status quo, shattering the sky.”

As seen in this photo essay for Transterra Media, across China, a renewal of traditional Maoist values has been accompanied by increased interest among the youth and the young professional class in observing and celebrating the life of their dear leader.


Every year, while half of the world celebrates Christmas, in the small village of Shaoshan in Hunan province people celebrate the birthday of Mao Zedong, born the 26th of December 1893. This year is Mao's 121st birthday.

The celebrations start on the evening before, when people form a procession to bring their offerings to the statue of Mao at the center of the city, and buy fireworks to set off throughout the night. Mao’s elder devotees travel from all over China to pay respects to their historical leader, and mix up with the youngest generations from the city near Shaoshan, who were born and raised listening to legendary stories about Mao Zedong from elders.

The celebration unfolds in a climate of jubilee, deep respect and general joy. But while the fascination for Mao is fading amongst the most educated youth in the biggest cities, who enjoy the material benefit of the deregulated market economy, in Shaoshan, even the youngest demonstrate their deep love and admiration for a leader that has no equal in China. For them, Mao is an icon, unquestionable and undebatable, surrounded by an aura of magic and the divine. Indeed in Shaoshan, people worship him as a God.

They pray, bow in front of his statue and ask him for spiritual and material benefit. Ironically, Mao’s is now revered in a cultish manner filled with superstitions, while Mao devoted most of his life to freeing his people from tradition and cults to focus on the construction of a pragmatic and equal China.

To many youngsters, the real character of Mao and his political role is nowadays blurred and thus they find themselves celebrating what has become a tradition, that disconnects itself from its real origins year by year. Meanwhile, the resurgent trend highlights a cultural shift back to the left under President Xi Jinping.

For many inhabitants of Shaoshan, the anniversary is a great opportunity to fill hotels and sell fireworks and an incredible range of souvenirs. For some companies, it is an opportunity to advertise themselves, while offering a journey to Shaoshan to their employees: a journey that serves to emphasize a Maoist ethic for workers who must deal with the day to day pressure of producing for global markets.

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Freediving kas turkey 01
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
30 Sep 2014

Kaputas beach is one of Kas' main tourist attractions due to the colour of its beautiful warm water and pleasant sandy beach.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen during a training dive in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 09
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
29 Sep 2014

Free Diving record holder Sahika Ercumen surfaces after a training dive out at sea near Kas in Antalya, Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 12
Kas
By Mark_Esplin
28 Sep 2014

Free dive enthusiasts check out the action below as they wait their turn to dive during a workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen.

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Freediving kas turkey 02
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Free Diving world record holder Sahika Ercumen leads a breathing workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Freediving kas turkey 03
Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student relaxes during a yoga session as part of a free diving workshop lead by Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen teaches breathing exercises during a free diving workshop in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

A student laughs during a breathing workshop lead by free diving record holder Sahika Ercumen in Kas, Antalya, Southern Turkey.

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Kas, Turkey
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Though well known throughout Turkey, Kas remains less popular with foreign tourists than the near-by towns of Bodrum and Antalya city.

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Kas
By Mark_Esplin
27 Sep 2014

Sahika Ercumen instructs students during a breathing workshop in Kas, Southern turkey.

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North Korea in Color 010
By Ulrik Pedersen
09 Jun 2014

One of the pins that all people in North Korea are required to wear. They can choose between different designs but it is compulsory to wear one of these pins every day.

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North Korea in Color 014
By Ulrik Pedersen
07 Jun 2014

A newspaper at a ski resort with a picture of Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea.

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North Korea in Black and White 023
By Ulrik Pedersen
03 Jun 2014

One of the numerous bronze statues of Kim Il Sung, eternal president of North Korea. Pyongyang, North Korea.

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Imran Khan's Final Election Rally in ...
Islamabad, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
08 May 2013

Zahid Hussain talks about a recent accident in which Imran Khan, the chairman of PTI was injured and its impact on election campaign.

"One thing should be very clear, security threats or not, we’ve come out to save our country and we have to save this country of ours. Since the creation of our country, it has been destroyed between dictatorships and democracy.
PPP and Nawaz Sharif have taken their turns in the past, neither of them delivered. Now we have to give a chance to Imran Khan, it should be very clear.

Imran Khan is our captain, he has the capability to lead our country and we hope that he will fulfill his promise.

The recent accident was not intentional at all and it was from God. It was a lifter accident which was overloaded. It was the responsibility of government to make sure there was an ambulance present at the venue.

He is a true leader and true patriot, not some layman so he should have been provided a secure lifter to avoid the accident. He does 4-5 rallies every day he must have been exhausted.

If Imran Khan is given a chance and he becomes a prime minister, you will see Pakistan standing next to USA in next 5 years."

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Election Fever in Pakistan (13 of 14)
Rawalpindi, Pakistan
By Muhammed Furqan
07 May 2013

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz leader Mian Nawaz Sharif arrives on stage at an election rally in Rawalpindi as part of his election campaign.

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Bamako, Mali (6 of 7)
Bamako, Mali.
By George Henton
03 Feb 2013

Images from Mopti, Mali, taken during the ongoing conflict in West Africa.

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Syrian Activist Burhan Mousa Agha
Beirut Lebanon
By pathilsman
21 Oct 2012

One of the Leaders of the Syrian Opposition Protesters In Lebanon