Col­lectibles a ma­jor drain on devo­tee’s cash

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG houliqiang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Stay­ing online un­til 4 am to bid on the war­time note­book of an of­fi­cer of the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army is how Jin Tiehua started his day on the 120th an­niver­sary of Chair­man Mao Ze­dong’s birth.

Jin, 65, started col­lect­ing his­tor­i­cal ma­te­ri­als re­lated to the Com­mu­nist Party of China in 1992.

On Thurs­day, af­ter star­ing at the com­puter screen for most of the night, his bid was suc­cess­ful. For 520 yuan ($86), the note­book was his.

Af­ter lit­tle sleep, Jin was pre­par­ing to go to the Na­tional Mu­seum of China to par­tic­i­pate in an ac­tiv­ity cel­e­brat­ing Mao’s birth­day. He said he had been in­vited by de­scen­dants of Mao to take part in com­mem­o­ra­tive ac­tiv­i­ties three times this year.

The Bei­jing res­i­dent started his col­lec­tion be­cause of his re­spect for Mao. He spends vir­tu­ally all of his salary on it.

“I have zero sav­ings,” Jin said.

“I’ve spent an av­er­age of 2,000 yuan a month for the past 20 years buy­ing red col­lectibles. My salary isn’t enough, so I have to use my wife’s money,” he said, a lit­tle sheep­ishly. “Some­times I even have to turn to my son for 1,000 yuan a month.

“I don’t know how many ob­jects I have. It could be 20,000, 40,000 or even more,” Jin said.

His more than 60-squareme­ter apart­ment is crammed with var­i­ous themed col­lec­tions. He has made full use of ev­ery space, even the ceil­ings and the backs of pic­ture frames, cre­at­ing an at­mos­phere that seems more like a ware­house than a home.

Jin’s col­lec­tions in­clude Com­mu­nist Party ma­te­rial dat­ing from the Oc­to­ber Rev­o­lu­tion in Rus­sia in 1917.

But he is most proud of his Mao col­lec­tion.

“I have a copy of an ar­ti­cle Chair­man Mao wrote in 1912 about Shangyang, a re­former of the War­ring States Pe­riod (475-221 BC). I have a New Youth mag­a­zine with Chair­man Mao’s ar­ti­cle that was pub­lished in 1917. I have Chair­man Mao’s re­sume he handed in to join the Youth As­so­ci­a­tion, a com­mu­nist group founded by rev­o­lu­tion­ary Li Dazhao,” Jin said.

Jin, how­ever, does not have much in his col­lec­tion re­lat­ing to the “cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion” (1966-76). Among the few items rep­re­sent­ing that pe­riod is a copy of a daz­ibao, a poster writ­ten in large Chi­nese char­ac­ters used by the Red Guards to de­nounce peo­ple at about the time Jin was 16 years old. The per­son de­nounced by this daz­ibao is his fa­ther.

“My fa­ther died dur­ing the ‘cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion’,” Jin said, with­out giv­ing de­tails.

But this has not al­tered his af­fec­tion to­ward Mao.

“I be­lieve Chair­man Mao’s mo­tive in ini­ti­at­ing the ‘cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion’ was good,” Jin said. “If he were still alive, there would be no cor­rup­tion, which brings great losses to the Party and the coun­try.’’

Jin wants his­tory to live on. “I hope that ev­ery Party mem­ber will col­lect some ma­te­ri­als from the early stages and hand them down as heir­looms.”

CHENG LIANG / FOR CHINA DAILY

Jin Tiehua shows his col­lec­tion of items re­lated to Chair­man Mao Ze­dong on Thurs­day.

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