Friday, Sept. 9, marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Mao Zedong, who led the communist revolution to victory in 1949 and, after that, created turmoil in the country through one political movement after another, leading to widespread starvation. Despite causing the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese, he was worshiped as the "Great Teacher, Great Leader, Great Supreme Commander, and Great Helmsman."

Mao's embalmed body still lies in Tiananmen Square and his portrait still adorns the wall there. He remains the symbol of both the party and the state. That, no doubt, explains why there are people planning to hold concerts in his honor in Sydney and Melbourne in September.

The anniversary provides an opportunity to evaluate his role in history. Five years after Mao's death in 1976, the Communist Party of China adopted a resolution on "certain questions" within the Communist Party since it gained power in 1949. In its appraisal of its 32 years in power, the party concluded that it had "very successfully led the whole people in carrying out socialist revolution and socialist construction."