BBC to Air Controversial Mao Documentary Despite Chinese Anger
Dec. 17, 1993
LONDON (AP) _ A BBC documentary about Mao Tse-tung, including the former Chinese leader's alleged sexual escapades with young girls, has cast a new chill over the deteriorating relations between China and Britain.
The Chinese Embassy accused the British Broadcasting Corp. on Friday of making the hour-long film for political reasons, and said nothing could sully the Communist revolutionary's place in history.
The film ''only serves to lay bare the degeneration of journalistic ethics on the part of the producers ... and their political motivation of hostility toward China and the Chinese people,'' the embassy said in a statement.
Britain is already at loggerheads with China over plans to increase democracy in Hong Kong before the colony reverts to Chinese control in 1997.
''Chairman Mao - The Last Emperor,'' which is to be aired Monday, includes an interview with Mao's former doctor of 22 years saying the Chinese leader indulged in extramarital sex, including with young girls.
''Women felt honored to have sex with Mao,'' Dr. Li Zhisui said, according to a partial transcript released by the BBC. ''It was a glorious and natural thing to do because Mao was God and the Supreme Ruler.''
In another interview, a Chinese writer says cannibalism was encouraged by some of Mao's supporters during the Cultural Revolution, the BBC said.
Last month, China unsuccessfully appealed to the British Foreign Office to stop the program.
''We emphasized that the BBC is editorially independent and they would have to take the matter up with the BBC,'' said a Foreign Office spokesman, who was not identified.
Chinese Embassy spokesman Lin Qingyun said Chinese diplomats met with officials at the BBC a few weeks ago to discuss the program.
''This documentary is a pure slander on Chairman Mao'' made by people ''with ulterior motives,'' Lin told The Associated Press.
BBC spokeswoman Heather Clarke said there was no political motivation behind the documentary, produced by award-winning independent filmmaker Jeremy Bennett.
The program, part of the ''Timewatch'' historical documentary series, ''marks one of the leading figures of the 20th century on the centenary of his birth and is just one of many people focused on by this series,'' she said.
The film reveals ''the true nature of Mao Tse-tung's tyrannical and brutal rule over China,'' the BBC said in a statement.
The documentary, under the name ''The Secret Life of Chairman Mao,'' will be shown in the United States on Jan. 28 on the Arts and Entertainment network.
Mao, the son of a peasant farmer, founded the People's Republic of China in 1949 and ruled until his death in 1976.