October Tractor Factory Xinjiang
Statue of Chairman Mao Zedong
East China Normal University
The UD-NSLIY group arrives at East China Normal University in Shanghai. ECNU is one of a few higher education institutions in China that still keep the statue of Chairman Mao Zedong on campus.
Chairman Mao, the founding father of modern China, remains a hugely controversial figure and his legacy is still up for debate. But he remains a presence in cities across China, in the form of more than 2,000 statues that were built to commemorate him.
Photographer Cheng Wenjun has travelled throughout China since 1997, taking photos of the many statues of Mao. About a third of the existing Mao statues stand in China's university campuses, such as this one at East China Normal University.
A statue of Mao Zedong at East China Normal University on July 28, 2008 in Shanghai, China. Photographer Cheng Wenjun started looking for Chairman Mao's statues in 1997. He has visited all provinces of China, except Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, and he saw more than 200 outdoor statues in 120 cities. In 1952, the first outdoor statue of Mao Zedong was built in Xinjiang October Tractor Factory in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. But the countrywide trend was triggered by the statue unveiled in Tsinghua University in 1967. After that, many copies of the Tsinghua model were replicated all over the country during the 10 years of 'cultural revolution' (1966-76). At Fudan University in Shanghai, a Mao statue was set up with some magical numbers. The height of the statue is 7.1 meters, symbolizing the birth of the Chinese Communist Party (July 1). Its base is 5.16 meters tall, commemorating the '516 Announcement' drafted by Mao Zedong which set out the 'guidelines for cultural revolution'. The two numbers added together are 12.26, and December 26 is Mao Zedong's birthday. And then, many statues were set up following these magic numbers. The central government released a document and tried to ban the massive campaign, but it was not very effective. After the year 1977, a large number of these statues were quietly dismantled. Those statues which survived have become modern historical relics.