Mao died on September 9, 1976.
Yang Zhaoyou, 60, a protester and former soldier from East China’s Anhui Province, told the Global Times on Thursday that he understands the festival is a business activity but Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, should never have picked September 9 as the date.
“Mao Zedong does not belong to one person. His achievement and his thoughts have made him the totem of the Chinese nation. His honor is the honor of this country. At his anniversary, Chinese people naturally want to commemorate him,” Yang said.
“Jack Ma’s move caters to foreign hostile forces. The intention is to rip the country from Maoism. Anti-Maoism is anti-communism, which is a preparation for subversion. [This behavior is a case of] capital challenging the government,” Yang noted.
In a statement sent to the Global Times on Thursday, Alibaba wrote that September 9 was picked because the number nine in spoken Chinese sounds like “jiu,” which could also mean wine or alcohol, and that September 9 is easy to remember.
“The festival is not related to other time nodes,” it wrote, citing examples of other promotional activities launched by Chinese e-commerce platforms jd.com and suning.com during the time period.
This is the second year Maoists are protesting against the wine festival, although most of the protests took place online.
Yang said he is confident that the government will pay attention to their concerns, and that the protestors have no plans yet to take to the street. He said many of his friends felt strongly against the festival.
An article posted on Yang’s WeChat public account demanding Alibaba to reschedule or halt the wine festival has been viewed over 27,000 times and received over 1,500 likes as of press time.
Mao’s supporters often see China as becoming more capitalist and unequal. Those who oppose him criticize Mao for the Cultural Revolution(1966-76) and welcome a more market-oriented economy.
In January this year, a Hebei official was fired for calling Mao a “devil” on social media. And a Chinese TV anchor from China Central Television was taken off air in 2015 after a video emerged online showing him insulting Mao at a dinner party.
Jack Ma announced the launch of the annual 9.9 Wine Festival in April 2016 while meeting with former Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi at the Vinitaly show in Verona.
— (Global Times)
The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
— The Daily Mail - People's Daily