Mao Zedong: Memorialised in 2,000 statues

Photographer Cheng Wenjun has travelled throughout China since 1997

China is celebrating the 120th anniversary of former leader Mao Zedong's birth.

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.

People gathered in the square to remember victims of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake a week earlier, Chengdu Tianfu Square, 19 May 2008. This Mao Zedong statue was built in 1969. In 2008, people gathered at Tianfu Square in Sichuan provincial capital Chengdu to commemorate victims of a catastrophic earthquake
Mao statue surrounded by construction work at Baotou City, Inner Mongolia, 2010 A steel factory in Baotou City, Inner Mongolia, was redeveloped in 2010, but Mao's statue was preserved
Mao statue surrounded by roads in Zhengzhou City, Henan Province, January 2008 During the late 1980s authorities demolished statues to combat blind worship of Mao. This is the last statue standing in Zhengzhou, Henan
People celebrate Mao's anniversary by burning paper money underneath his statue,  Huangshi City, Hubei Province, 26 December 2007. The statue was built in 1967. However, Mr Cheng says most people still respect Mao and mark his anniversary - some by burning paper money like in this image from Huangshi, Hubei in 2007
A 24-metre tall Mao statue, built in 1968, stands at the gate of a Uighur community, Kashgar, Xinjiang Mao statues can even be found among China's Uighur areas, like this one in Kashgar, Xinjiang
A Mao statue at East China Normal University, Shanghai, July 2008. About a third of the existing Mao statues stand in China's university campuses, such as this one at East China Normal University
People dancing and exercising in front of a Mao statue Shijiazhuang City, Hebei Province, August, 2009. Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, has around seven statues just like this one
This Mao statue, built in 1993, stands at the centre of Nanjie Village, Henan Province. Every day there are two guards protecting the statue. Picture taken on September 2009. Two guards protect this Mao statue every day at Nanjie Village, Henan Province, which is known as China's last commune
A Mao statue at Chuantou Village, Wulian County, Shandong Province, November 2008 In Shandong Province, some businessmen tried to make a tourist destination by building a Mao statue and exhibition hall, but the project failed

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