Some of today’s leaders in Beijing prefer a whitewashed version of the Cultural Revolution. President Xi Jinping has revived Mao’s ideologies, earlier this year ordering all Communist Party officials to learn the “art of leadership” by reading a Mao essay.

Many of China’s political elite do not hold favorable views of the Cultural Revolution, with their own families having suffered from it. But by promoting the more palatable version of events, Chinese-Australian businesspeople can curry favor with the Chinese embassy and some of Beijing’s elite. The concerts are being put together by companies and community organizations through the International Cultural Exchange Association of Australia.

“The city cannot intervene and cancel events at its ­venues on the basis that some groups may find them objectionable,” a City of Sydney spokesperson told The Australian. “The city has no grounds to cancel the International Cultural Exchange Association’s hire of Sydney Town Hall.”

The presence of the late Chinese ruler is being felt in other cities as well. In Hong Kong, a Cantonese opera revolving around Mao’s private life will premiere on Oct. 1, also National Day in China. With paranoia about mainland-ization already running high, promotional posters for the opera have some Hong Kongers on edge.

In May, a performance at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People featured singers and dancers performing Cultural Revolution songs amid nostalgic images of Mao. The performance led to an uproar in mainland China, prompting calls for an investigation into the matter from those seeking to prevent the period’s dangerous ideology from returning.

An echo of that uproar is being heard Down Under.

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