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Last Updated: Monday, 17 April 2006, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Giant Mao statue erected in Tibet
A worker cleans the statue of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong for the upcoming New Year on December 20, 2005 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China.
Mao is still revered by many as the founder of modern China
The Chinese authorities say they are putting up a huge statue of Chairman Mao Zedong in Tibet.

The 35-ton memorial is being built to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the former leader's death.

It is being erected in Gonggar County, near the Tibetan capital Lhasa, China's state-run news agency Xinhua said.

The statue will rise 7m from a 5m pedestal strengthened to withstand earthquakes. Mao Zedong ordered the Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1950.

The statue will be the central landmark of Gonggar County's Shangcha square, which covers about 40,000 sq metres, and is scheduled for completion in July.

According to the Beijing authorities, the statue of Mao Zedong will be the largest of its kind in China and the first in Tibet.

Changsha, capital of Hunan province and Mao's hometown, has donated 6.5m yuan ($811,000; 461,000) towards the cost of the plaza and statue, Xinhua reported.

"Many Tibetan people suggested we should have a statue of Chairman Mao to show our gratitude," a local Communist Party official told Xinhua:

Mixed reaction

The BBC's Daniel Griffiths in China says the statue is likely to get a mixed reaction from many Tibetans.

From Beijing's perspective, the area has been part of China for centuries. But for many, the Chinese government is an occupying power which has shown scant regard for human rights or for Tibet's unique culture, our correspondent says.

Communist troops marched into Tibet in 1950. Nine years later, the region's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile along with tens of thousands of his followers after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Since then, China has exerted tight control over the region and this new statue of Mao Zedong is another reminder of Beijing's influence there, our correspondent adds.

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