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The Day Mao Passed 

Paul & Louisa 


1. What Occured On the Day 
2. Limitations 
3. Conclusion 
4. Bibliography 
5. Justification 
6. Research 
a. Primary​ Research 
b. Secondary​ Research 
 
 
 
What Occured On The Day 
 
On the 9th of September, 1976, Mao Zedong passed away in Beijing because of various health 
issues. These are believed to be because of Parkinson's disease, but ultimately he passed because of a 
heart attack (History). According to the experience of Tang Lao Shi, Zhang Lao Shi and Wang Lao Shi, it 
was announced to China through a large broadcast. Sad funeral music was played at Tang Lao Shi’s 
school as they gathered at the school field. Zhang Lao Shi and a lady we met in Hangzhou also recall 
going to the school field after the announcement to pay their respects and mourn the death of Mao. This 
shows us that this was an extremely serious and important matter to the people of China, to the schools, to 
decide to stop school to gather and respect Mao.  
There were many emotions felt by the people of China on the day he died.  
According to the interviews we conducted, many of the people were saddened by his death but 
also confused about what the future would hold. Over 2000 people gathered at Tien An Men Square, 
crying while wearing black armbands (The New York). People were always told that he would live on 
forever, as even at school as Zhang Laoshi recalled, every morning they would say “long live Chairman 
Mao!” as everyone could not imagine a world without him. As can be seen in Figure 1 It was then 
announced globally, as he was the Chairman of China, so it was a large deal all around the world.  
In an interview done with a Hangzhou citizen who recalls the feeling of sadness. “Everyone was 
really sad. I still remember that clearly. We all stood on the field. When we heard the announcement, we 
were all crying,” - Lady (Source 5). In similarity to Tang Lao Shi, she also gathered at a field to pay 
respect. This further shows us that many people were saddened by his death. 
Another example of sadness is in a book called “Mao’s Last Dancer”. In this book, the person in 
the story also recalls “gathering in front of a loudspeaker on the sports ground” similar to Tang Lao Shi, 
Zhang Laoshi and the lady we met. This person further continues to say that they “cried their hearts out”. 
This shows more cases of people experiencing extreme sadness after he had passed.  
This sadness can be understood, as Chairman Mao was a large figure in China. He was their 
Chairman, in Zhang Lao Shi, Tang Laoshi and the Lady we met’s interviews, they all mention reciting 
sayings in the morning at school about Chairman Mao. Some include “long live Chairman Mao,” and 
“full-hearted serving the citizens,”. The Lady even recalls having competitions to memorise these sayings. 
To lose someone who has such a large place in society at the time can be emotionally challenging, 
especially to those who supported him.  
However, there was also feelings of fear as well. In the story, the person recalls it was “mixed 
with a certain fear”. Zhang Lao Shi, Tang Lao Shi and Wang Lao Shi all recall them and their parents feel 
a certain amount of uncertainty after his death. As in another interview done in Hangzhou, the girl 
recalled to her parents Mao was “like an idol to them,” (Source 7). Further research into articles about 
Mao shows that he was described as a God-like figure to those who supported him in China at the time 
(“Beijing”). As in Mao’s Last Dancer, the girl says she would’ve died for Chairman Mao, that his name 
was the first word she learnt (Source 8). To lose such a large figure in China, who was the leader of a 
large change in China as he was Chairman, can be confusing. This created a time where there was no one 
specifically ruling China, and there was nobody to look up to, as they used to do with Mao.  
There were many heated arguments about what should be done to his body in order to preserve it. 
Once again, no one thought that it would be possible for Mao to die, therefore they had not planned 
anything for his burial (The New York). Mao requested for his body to cremated, however, officials 
wanted him to be embalmed to be put on display. To do so, they used a method of cooling the body so it 
wouldn’t decay. This project included over 400 people. (“None”) 
Mao died at 12:10 on the 9th, but announcements were delayed by around 16 hours from when he 
died. This was probably for the reason that the government knew this would shock most of the 
population, so they needed time to think how they were going to announce it through.  
  Another interview was done with a Chinese citizen who was alive when Mao passed. This 
interview was conducted by the Guardian, the man called Xiao Piao. Xiao Pao was one of the people who 
was in charge of preserving Chairman Mao’s body after he passed. Xiao Pao said that he was shocked by 
the news. He mentioned that there were no preparations since no one outside of Mao’s close party were 
aware that he was on the way to death (“Preserving”).  
 

 
Figure 1: ​NY Times News Article (The New York) 
 
 
Limitations 
Throughout our research we have done both primary and secondary research.  
 
Primary Research  
Our primary research has many limitations because it only comes from a few Chinese people in 
China. China’s population is over 1 billion people, all with different backgrounds and perspectives. For 
this reason, the stories that we have heard cannot speak for all of China, as everyone feels different about 
the situation. Furthermore, the opinions of these people may be biased as they support different sides of 
the party, or believe in different ways of living. For example, some may of supported Mao as they believe 
he benefited their lives, whereas others may believe he didn’t.  
 
Secondary Research 
Furthermore, we cannot be sure that all our secondary research is reliable. We do not know if the 
information is completely accurate. This can lead to our understanding of the day he died to be false and 
inaccurate. Moreover, the cultural revolution divided China into two parties, the people who were for 
Mao, and the people who were against him. This means that the same story could be told twice with two 
different viewpoints, each side having their own versions of the story affected by their experiences. 
Continuing, these articles have been written by people who have collected their own research, which may 
also not be true. We cannot be sure whether their sources are completely reliable, or that they did not 
change the information they collected.  
 
 
Conclusion  
There are multiple limitations to why our research may not be completely accurate. However, we 
have tried to collect as many sources to counteract any biases are misbeliefs we have found throughout 
our research. We believe that we have a true understanding of what happened the day Mao died from our 
research. Since we were not alive on that day, we can never have a complete full understanding. Below 
are the points which we gathered from our interviews.  
 
Main Points 
1. Many people were not expecting their death, as he was portrayed as a figure who would live and 
lead the people forever.  
2. Many felt confused and worried for China’s future after Mao passed since they were unsure of 
who would take on his role leading and if the communist party would continue.  
3. People gathered at Tiananmen Square to mourn his death, wearing white flowers to represent 
their respect.  
4. A large broadcast was sent out to announce to everyone that he had passed.  
5. His body was not cremated, instead put on display for the people to see.  
6. Schools gathered in the fields to all pay respect after the announcements were made.  
 
 
 
 
Bibliography 
 
1. “Preserving Chairman Mao: Embalming a Body to Maintain a Legacy.” ​The Guardian​, Guardian 
News and Media, 11 Sept. 2016, 
www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/11/preserving-chairman-mao-embalming-a-body-to-maint
ain-a-legacy​. 
2. The New York Times​, The New York Times, 
www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0909.html​). 
3. History.com​, A&E Television Networks, 
www.history.com/this-day-in-history/chairman-mao-dies​). 
4. “'None Expected Him to Die': How Mao Zedong's Body Was Frozen in Dead of Night.” 
Https://Www.hindustantimes.com/​, 11 Sept. 2016, 
www.hindustantimes.com/world-news/none-expected-him-to-die-how-mao-zedong-s-body-was-f
reezed-in-dead-of-night/story-H9axjOwSNdkAaeuOY5tl9L.html 
5. “Beijing History.” ​Beijing Travel Guide, Book Beijing Flights, Book Beijing Hotels​, 
www.beijingmadeeasy.com/beijing-history/Chairman-mao-zedong. 
 
 
 
 
 
Research 
 
Justification 
 
We have collected many pieces of secondary research, from our interviews around Hangzhou, to 
interviewing family members. However these are just a few people in China compared to the total amount 
of over 1 billion people living in China. For this reason, we need to gather more information and research 
to back up our beliefs on what happened the day Mao passed. We have done secondary research to do so.  
 
Primary Research 
 
Person  Source  Quotes  Notes  OPV 
Number 

  1  The  day  Mao  died,  I  was  in  Our scene 3 story is  Origin: 
Tang  my classroom.   following Tang Lao  These interviews come 
Lao Shi  Shi’s footsteps and his  from our teachers, 
你可以告訴我你當時的心情 emotions on the day  family members and 
嗎?你是那個畫畫很好的對 Mao dies and how it  members of the 
不對?  impacted his life. Tang  Hangzhou public that 
就是我們在教室裡面。  Laoshi was known for  we interviewed.  
我們的drama需要你的exact  his good writing skills,  Purpose: 
words   so often he would be  The purpose of 
就是那時候,我就是早在哪 recruited to write  conducting these 
個教室裡面,在寫那個 propaganda posters, or  interviews is so that we 
caligraphy,  and  then  the  posters in general for  can get many 
whole  school  heard  the  the school. When the  perspectives on what 
announcement  through  the  announcement that  occured on the day 
very  loud  speaker.  Suddenly,  Mao had passed  Mao passed so we can 
so  everyone  in  the  classroom  occured when he was  get the best 
just  automatically  stopped,  writing a poster. The  understanding 
everything.  Grief  and  silence  minute he heard the  possible.  
filled  the  classroom.  music he was in shock,  Value: 
Everyone  was  called  to  and put his calligraphy  These sources are very 
assemble  at the field to mourn  pen down. He was  useful since they come 
for the leader.   writing a  straight from people 
  congratulating poster,  who directly 
and he thought it was  experienced this 
wrong to write that  moment in history.  
after learning the   
passing of Mao, so he   
did not return to   
writing.  
 
 

Wang  2  N/A   Another story is Wang 


Lao Shi  From teacher panel interview.   Lao Shi’s experience. 
She recalled that the 
night before the 
announcement they 
were told that there 
would be a large 
announcement the next 
day. Some adults 
speculated that it was 
the announcement of 
his death, but because 
it was a sensitive topic 
no one spoke largely of 
it. She also mentioned 
that after he had died, 
she went to the 
markets with her 
tokens to collect the 
food and essentials she 
needed, such as fabric. 
However, when she 
reached the market 
there was nothing or 
anybody there.  

Zhang  3  N/A   Zhang Lao Shi was 


Lao Shi  From teacher panel interview.   quite young when it 
was announced, 
however she 
mentioned that her 
parents were very 
shocked. Her mother 
cried and her father 
looked scared for 
China’s future, as 
many adults in her own 
town at that time were. 
She said that just days 
before they had been 
reciting “long live 
Mao” in class, so it 
was very confusing to 
her that he had actually 
passed away, as they 
always said he would 
live forever.  

Rachel’s  4    “Chairman Mao died 


Grandpar 9th September, 1976. 
ents  When we heard the 
announcement of his 
death, we all stopped 
working and cried; we 
all wore a white flower 
and a black crape 
subconsciously to 
mourn his death. “ 
 

Lady  5  1. Examples of sadness  女:那天好像所有人


(Strange 2. Also gathered at a  都好悲痛的。這個我
r)  school field  記得,印象蠻深的;
3. Shows how devoted  我們都站在大球場上
the people were to  ,大家聽到這個消息
Mao at the time as  都流眼淚、哭著,都
they memorised his  在哭。 
words  我:你傷心嗎? 
4. Fear shown   女:肯定的,因為文
革的時候大家都最熱
愛毛主席。 
我:學校是不是每一
天都要為毛澤東做些
什麼? 
女:我們每天都要學
習毛主席語錄,我們
要背到三篇:「為人
民服務。」 
男:「全心全意為人
民服務」 
女:背毛主席語錄這
些都有比賽的。 
 
Lady: On that day, 
everyone was really 
sad. I still remember 
that clearly. We all 
stood on the field. 
When we heard the 
announcement, we 
were all crying. 
 
Us: Were you sad? 
 
Lady: Of ‘course I 
was. Because during 
the cultural revolution, 
we all loved him.  
 
Us: At that time, did 
you have to do 
something for Mao 
everyday? 
 
Lady: Everyday, we 
recited Chairman Mao 
Quotes. We had to 
memorise three quotes 
per day of: "Serving 
the citizens." 
 
Man: “Full hearted 
serving the citizens”. 
 
Lady: We had 
competitions in 
memorising his quotes.  

Intervie 6  1. Shows how some  我们当时知道毛泽东


w from  people didn’t feel too  死了,大家都在哭。
Lady  much about it  就是一点笑容都没
(stranger 2. Everyone was sad   有。他死掉了,心里
)   悲伤的。其他做没有
什么不同的。他死了
,有没有什么办法
的。哭完就好了嘛。 
 
The moment we knew 
Mao died, everyone 
was crying. There was 
not a bit of smile. His 
death made my heart 
hurt. Everything else 
was the same. He died, 
we can’t do anything 
about it. After crying 
then it’ll be fine.  
Costa  7  1. “Idol” shows his  She: For them,   
Coffee   importance in society.  Chairman Mao is an 
2. Sadness  idol. 
   Me: What were they 
  like after Chairman 
Mao's death? 
She: I think they were 
very sad, you mean 
currently or at the 
time? They were sad at 
that time. 
Me: What do your 
parents do? 
She: They are in the 
business industry. 
Me: Society’s middle 
to high? 
She: Of course.  

Mao’s  8  1. Mentioned she  Page 204:   


Last  would’ve died for  “Then, later that year, 
Dancer  him, shows devotion  the unthinkable even…  
2. Loss and confusion  Our beloved Chairman 
3. Sadness  Mao died.  
4. Compares it to a loss  China paused. The 
of her own family  whole nation mourned. 
member, as she holds  It was early September 
Mao at that level of  and I remember 
respect, love and  gathering in front of a 
closeness.   loudspeaker on the 
5. Announcement on the  sports ground and 
sports ground as well.   hearing the 
announcement of his 
death by his successor 
Hua Guofeng. We 
cried our hearts out. I 
thought of my na-na’s 
death. But this time, 
crying for Chairman 
Mao, it was like a 
religious experience 
mixed with a certain 
fear. I had worshipped 
Chairman Mao. His 
name was the first 
word I had learnt in 
school. The words 
from his famous Red 
Book were embedded 
in my brain. I would 
have died for him. And 
now he was gone.” 

Notes from Teacher Interview: 


 
➢ People devastated because they had been told that he would live forever 
➢ Just days before they would stand up in class and say “long live Chairman Mao” 
➢ People sad because he was their leader 
➢ However also families that weren’t sad because that meant their family members could come 
home from concentration camps.  
➢ Most people were very lost and worried as they did not know what would happen to China now.  
➢ There was the “power vacuum” because no one was in charge of China now.  
➢ It was announced over a broadcast 
➢ People of China were told that there would be a large announcement the day before.  
➢ Many had speculated that it would be the announcement of his death.  
➢ People still went to school and work, nothing stopped.  
➢ Many were scared because they had devoted their lives to MZD but now he was dead, and didn’t 
know what to do.  
➢ Felt couldn’t live without him.  
➢ The markets where tokens were used to collect food, fabrics, etc. were closed, so people didn’t 
know where to get supplies.  
➢ They played sad music through the schools.  
➢ Teachers started to create white flowers  
➢ Felt compelled to cry to keep loyalty.  
 
 
 
 
 
Secondary Research Notes 
 
Research  OPVL   Link 

➢ There was no designated heir  Origin:  http://www.nytimes.com/l


➢ Delayed announcement by  This comes from an article  earning/general/onthisday
around 16 hours  that was released in the New  /big/0909.html 
➢ “​It said China must "continue to  York Times on the day Mao 
carry out Chairman Mao's  passed. It was written by an 
revolutionary line and policies in  international news agency 
foreign affairs resolutely."”  called “Reuters” (Reuters). 
➢ “Funeral music followed today's  Purpose: 
announcement broadcast over the  The purpose of this article 
Peking radio, and 2,000 people  was to inform the world, 
gathered in the vast Tien An Men  specifically in America, that 
Square, many wearing black  Mao had passed. 
armbands, some weeping. Flags   
fluttered at half staff.”  Value: 
➢ "The Internationale," the world  This source is useful since it 
Socialist anthem, echoed over the  gives information on how he 
city from loudspeakers at dusk as  died, when he died, and what 
bicyclists made their way home  the reaction to it was. 
from work.  Continuing, since it was from 
➢ Parkinson’s disease named a  the time he died it helps to 
possible cause of death.  paint a better picture on what 
occured not only in China, 
but also how it affected the 
world.  

➢ Died at age 82  Origin:  http://www.history.com/th


➢ Dies at 12:10 on the 9th but  This comes from a website  is-day-in-history/chairma
announcement only at 4:00pm the  that has information on  n-mao-dies 
next day (16 hour delay)  different days in history. This 
➢ One of the most influential  particular article is on the day 
figures of the 20th century.  mao died.  
Purpose: 
The purpose of the website is 
to educate others who are 
interested on has occured in 
history on certain days. This 
article summarizes what Mao 
had done while he ruled. 
Value: 
This article can help us to 
further understand what Mao 
did during his time ruling, 
and in his life in general.  
 

➢ Mao wanted to be cremated  Origin:  https://www.hindustantim


➢ Officials decided would be better  This article is an interview  es.com/world-news/none-
to put him on display  with a man who was a part of  expected-him-to-die-how-
➢ No information on this project  the project to freeze Mao to  mao-zedong-s-body-was-f
was ever published  be put on display.   reezed-in-dead-of-night/st
➢ Required over 400 people  Purpose:  ory-H9axjOwSNdkAaeu
This article tells a story that is  OY5tl9L.html 
not often told of a project that 
very quickly took place after 
Mao had passed. The purpose 
to educate others on how and 
why it happened.  
Value: 
This article gives us another 
perspective from another 
person in China who lived 
through the death of Mao. 
Furthermore, it shows us the 
chaos after Mao died, and 
what exactly happened to 
Mao after he had passed.  

➢ Godlike figure  Origin:  http://www.beijingmadeea


➢ Father of the nation  This article is from a website  sy.com/beijing-history/Ch
➢ Was very large figure, everybody  that has information on  airman-mao-zedong 
knew him   Beijing for tourist or those 
who are interested.  
Purpose: 
This article was written to 
educate people on the facts of 
Beijing before travelling 
there, or if they want to learn 
more about Beijing. This 
article discusses Mao.  
Value: 
This article further discusses 
Mao’s place in China at the 
time he was Chairman. This 
helps us to have a better 
understanding of his 
significance which can help 
us to understand some of the 
events that occured on the day 
he passed.  
 
 
 
 
Bibliography 
 
6. “Preserving Chairman Mao: Embalming a Body to Maintain a Legacy.” ​The Guardian​, Guardian 
News and Media, 11 Sept. 2016, 
www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/11/preserving-chairman-mao-embalming-a-body-to-maintain-
a-legacy​. 
7. The New York Times​, The New York Times, 
www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/big/0909.html​). 
8. History.com​, A&E Television Networks, ​www.history.com/this-day-in-history/chairman-mao-dies​). 
9. “Business & Financial News, U.S & International Breaking News.” ​Reuters​, Thomson Reuters, 
www.reuters.com/​. 
10.