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Thu 26 Dec 2013 11:40 AM

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Chinese mark Mao’s birthday

Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers have descended on home town of the former leader of China to mark the 120th anniversary of his birth. Visitors flocked to statues and memorials to Chairman Mao, in tribute to the founder of the communist state. The anniversary is a balancing act for the country’s government, which is keen to avoid any reference to tragedy’s during Mao’s leadership, including the Great Leap Forward, and Cultural Revolution.

Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A couple take a photo in front of a statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a park in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 25, 2013. Thousands of admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong flocked to his home town on December 25 to bow before his graven image -- including one statue of solid gold -- before the 120th anniversary of his birth. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A group of people display apples with Chinese characters of 'Mao Zedong' in front of a bronze statue of the former Chinese leader in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 25, 2013. Thousands of admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong flocked to his home town on December 25 to bow before his graven image -- including one statue of solid gold -- before the 120th anniversary of his birth. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
An actor (C) playing China's former leader Mao Zedong waves as people gather in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
An elderly man walks to a statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a park in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 25, 2013. Thousands of admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong flocked to his home town on December 25 to bow before his graven image -- including one statue of solid gold -- before the 120th anniversary of his birth. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
People visit the former residence of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 25, 2013. Thousands of admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong flocked to his home town on December 25 to bow before his graven image -- including one statue of solid gold -- before the 120th anniversary of his birth. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A man and a woman prepare to present flowers to a bronze statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a square in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A vendor (L) waits for the customers as she stands by statues of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a shop in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A man takes a photo in front of a bronze statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a square in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A man holds a portrait of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong at a square in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
This picture taken on December 23,2013 shows a man waving a red flag in front of a bronze statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
People prepare to present flowers to a bronze statue of China's former top leader Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese mark Mao’s birthday
A man prepares to present a basket of flowers to a bronze statue of China's former top leader Mao Zedong in Shaoshan, in China's central province of Hunan on December 24, 2013. Thousands of Mao Zedong admirers will descend on the town this week to mark the 120th anniversary of the former leader's birth -- an occasion that represents a tricky balancing act for the government. (AFP/Getty Images)