Villagers and businessmen in China’s rural Henan province spent nine months and $500,000 building a massive, 120-foot-tall, gold-painted statue of Mao Zedong. Photos of the statue went viral on Monday, and just days later — after the monument was widely mocked on social media — unidentified government officials arrived in the town of Zhushigang to tear it down.
Demolition teams began Thursday to dismantle the massive and ostentatiously golden homage to modern China’s founding father. Unidentified men in olive green coats reportedly blocked visitors from accessing the site.
The statue’s destruction was likely not supported by Sun Qingxin, a local factory owner and county official who funded the project and has a reputation for glorifying Mao’s legacy.
“He is crazy about Mao,” a local potato farmer told the New York Times. “His factory is full of Maos.”
It remains unclear whether the government officials wanted to destroy the statue because of the online mocking or if they disagreed with Sun and other locals over its construction from the start.
Some Chinese economic/financial metaphors are little too on the nose. pic.twitter.com/HpYMBsu0BW
— Josh Noble (@JoshTANoble) January 8, 2016
— Tom Phillips (@tomphillipsin) January 8, 2016
Photo credit: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images; Twitter