A model of Mao’s head discarded next to the larger statue on January 4, four days before local officials ordered the monument dismantled. (REUTERS/Chinese Stringer Network)
A giant, golden statue of Mao Zedong, the father of modern China, was demolished because it lacked approval from authorities, state media said.
Images posted on Weibo, China's dominant social media service, showed the seated 36.6 meter (120 feet) statue partially destroyed, with a black shroud covering its head. The images also made their way onto Twitter.
Businessmen and some rural communities chipped in nearly 3 million yuan ($459,000) to build the conspicuous tribute, according to Chinese state media.
It was reportedly constructed of steel and concrete, and painted gold. It was completed in December.
Before its destruction, the statue, located in Tongxu County, an area hard hit by the devastating famine of the 1950s, which historians say was a direct result of Mao’s Great Leap Forward, had garnered its fair share of compliments -- and criticism -- on Chinese social media.
REUTERS/Chinese Stringer Network
Users of China's popular microblogging service Weibo appeared divided over the statue, with user shenqilei saying, "This is so embarrassing!," while beijiyisuoqianban took a more patriotic tack, saying: "Long live Chairman Mao!" User MCULM added: "They can do whatever they want with their own money. It is worth commending if they built a statue of their ancestors. But if the money was from the public pocket, a thorough investigation is needed."