Recently promoted to general, Mao Zedong's grandson expresses wish to further pursue politics

BEIJING (AP) — Recently promoted to become China's youngest major general, Mao Zedong's grandson says he aims for deeper involvement in the politics of the communist state founded by his grandfather, according to an interview appearing Thursday.

Mao Xinyu, 40, credited his family background for his speedy rise up the military ranks, something he hopes to apply to a political career.

"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 in the interview, posted on the popular website.

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. He has increasingly become a subject of curiosity among Chinese, although more for his heritage and resemblance to his portly, round-faced grandfather, than for any of his personal achievements.

Mao said family background was "definitely a factor" in his promotion to major general.

"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 obtained the rank had been circulating for months. In the interview, Mao said he only learned of it on July 19.

Although none of Mao Zedong's children were active in politics, China has a well-established coterie of the sons and daughters of revolutionary heroes who have risen into the political elite. Known as the "princelings," they include Vice President Xi Jinping and Shanghai's party boss Yu Zhengsheng, among many others.

Other princelings have used their family connections to generate personal fortunes, although Mao Xinyu said in the interview he would eschew business opportunities, preferring to live off his modest salary.

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.