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Officially, the celebrations are supposed to be simple and low-key; the Communist party is trying to shed a reputation for ostentatious spectacles and reconnect with its roots as a workers' movement.But the villagers, and the busloads of Maoists flocking to Shaoshan, many of them accessorising their designer clothes and i Phones with green revolutionary army caps, are finding it difficult to contain their enthusiasm.In 1959, when Mao returned to Shaoshan, she posed with him for a photograph that would help make her fortune. He had been away since 1927 fighting the revolution and it was only natural that he was homesick."He went to see his family home and then he crossed over to the other side of the pond to pay respects to our house too.As a result, many of the pilgrims to Shaoshan still regard Mao with worrying devotion.

"He taught us to love our country and to pay taxes. If he came back today he would be thrilled to see the village so prosperous." Mrs Tang's family lived across the village pond from the Mao household and had intermarried, she said.

Lang Lang, the pianist, has already played a concert in the middle of the village's Mao Zedong Square, and a train of 120 camels, like modern-day Magi, trekked a thousand miles from the deserts of Inner Mongolia to the village as a publicity stunt.

On Monday, a 200 million yuan (£20 million) statue arrived to take pride of place in a grand memorial hall.

"All of our phones are being monitored," said Tang Jinbo, a 53-year-old former worker in a pharmaceutical firm who is one of a group of hundreds of Mao supporters that travelled to Shaoshan.

"In the city of Xi'an they are not allowed to celebrate the anniversary. We only used government websites to post comments and meet," she complained.

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