Bloomberg Anywhere Login

Bloomberg

Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.

Company

Financial Products

Enterprise Products

Media

Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000

Communications

Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Mao Zedong Wouldn’t Like Chinese Society Today, Rittenberg Says

Pedestrians are reflected in a window near a portrait of Mao Zedong, former leader of China, right, and Zhou Enlai, former premier of China, in Beijing. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg
Pedestrians are reflected in a window near a portrait of Mao Zedong, former leader of China, right, and Zhou Enlai, former premier of China, in Beijing. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Nov. 8 (Bloomberg) -- China has become a place Mao Zedong would not like “because it has lost its soul,” said Sidney Rittenberg Sr., who worked as a translator for the former leader of the world’s most-populous nation.

Mao “would like that China’s a great power, but he would definitely not like the kind of society -- they’ve kind of lost their soul,” Rittenberg said in an interview with Bloomberg Television yesterday in Beijing. “The old spirit of helping one another, thinking of the general good” has diminished, Rittenberg said.

China’s Communist Party gathered today in Beijing to choose its fifth generation of leaders since taking power in 1949, a decision that will shape the nation’s policies for the next decade. The new leadership team will favor market-driven change because without that the nation’s economic growth may falter, Rittenberg said.

The economy’s “at the place where the growth model must be changed or the machine is not going to work,” he said. “Their biggest threat is not to reform, is to be so frightened by the image of the Cultural Revolution, of great turbulence and chaos. If they don’t reform and people decide to get out and reform for them, that could be a critical threat.”

The most likely outcome is that China’s new leaders will introduce changes to promote private enterprise and funnel more credit to small- and medium-sized enterprises, helping unleash new growth engines, Rittenberg said.

Rittenberg was the only American to join Mao Zedong’s Communist Party of China. He is the author of the book “The Man Who Stayed Behind.”

To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Stephen Engle in Beijing at sengle1@bloomberg.net; Kevin Hamlin in Beijing at khamlin@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Panckhurst at ppanckhurst@bloomberg.net

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.