The Canadian newspapers have printed obituaries of Hua Guofeng today. When I was a student in Shanghai, a portrait of the "heroic and brilliant leader" Chairman Hua was suspended about the blackboard in our lecture halls right next to the identically framed portrait of the "great leader" Chairman Mao Zedong. At the time I regarded Hua Guofeng as a clumsy fogy whose plodding calligraphy paled in comparison with the powerful vigour and creative spirit of Chairman Mao's swirling handwriting. Hua also seemed to have no ideas of his own,. Chairman Hua said "We will resolutely uphold whatever policy decisions Chairman Mao made for us, and unswervingly follow whatever instructions Chairman Mao gave to us". This statement was repeated in a joint editorial, entitled "Study the Documents Well and Grasp the Key Link", printed in February 1977 in the People's Daily, the theoretical journal Red Flag and in Liberation Army Daily. Hua was a "whatevervist."
After he gave up all his official offices in 1980, Hua Guofeng was little heard of, but he stayed on in the Central Committee and even appeared sitting in the back row on the rostrum at the Party Congress last fall. People in China in general have a benevolent impression of him.
Now I realize that when he was Chairman, Hua Guofeng was only a little older than I am now. Now, as was once a common expression in China referring to the deceased, Chairman Hua has "gone to see Marx." As I get older I am more and more aware of the reality that all thing pass away in the end.