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Mao Zedong's grandson says family background a factor in promotion to major general

BEIJING (AP) — Mao Zedong's grandson says his family background was certainly a factor in his recent promotion to China's youngest major general, according to an interview appearing Thursday.

Mao Xinyu, 40, also told the interviewer that he hopes for a career in politics, but would eschew business opportunities, preferring to live off his modest salary.

Family background was "definitely a factor. This is an objective fact that you can't avoid," Mao said in the interview, posted on the popular NetEase.com website.

"I feel it among my friends and colleagues in the army, everyone has this sense. All the people take their love and respect for Mao Zedong and transfer it onto my person. Definitely this is a factor," Mao said.

Mao's promotion was confirmed by state media on Monday, although reports he had obtained the rank had been circulating for months. In the interview, Mao said he only learned of it on July 19.

Mao is a military historian at the Academy of Military Sciences, a member of the government's main political advisory body, and fervent defender of his grandfather's legacy.

Asked if he wished to pursue politics, he responded "of course" but gave no specifics.

"My mother chose for me in becoming a soldier an excellent path and angle and it's from the military that I will rise," Mao said.

Known universally as Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong led the bloody two decade-long revolution that overthrew Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists and established the People's Republic of China in 1949. Once in power, he plunged the nation into years of famine, political chaos, and ultimately stagnation.

Mao held total power right up to his death in 1976, and his embalmed body continues to lie in state in a mausoleum on Tiananmen Square in the heart of the capital, Beijing.

Mao married four times, siring nine children in all, including his second son, Mao Xinyu's father Mao Anqing. None of Mao's children played a prominent role in Chinese politics.