Beijing: Thirty-five years after his death, the founder of the People's Republic, Mao Zedong continues to be an enigma for the Communist party he founded.

A move to observe his death anniversary invoked the wrath of the local Chinese authorities who cracked down on a 200-strong gathering at a local park in Taiyuan in Shanxi province, arresting nine of them.

The participants sang "Red songs" and recited poems written by the late Chairman of the Communist Party of China.

But Police came in and insisted on the group to stop.

According to a report in the state-run Global Times, nine persons, including Song Baocun, a 58-year-old employee at a Hydraulic Machine Factory in Shanxi Province, were detained.

He was sentenced to a five-day administrative detention, the daily said. Subsequently they were released on bail during the weekend.

The crackdown on Mao supporters comes amid reports of attempts by some party leaders to revive Mao's hard-line policies much to the discomfiture of the present leadership.

The incident might have passed off unnoticed, but for some Web users posting comments that they were confused why such an assembly was stopped.

"It's not an illegal assembly," Jiang Fangyi, a Beijing-based civil rights lawyer, told Global Times.

"A commemorative activity in a park is not against the regulations of administration and punishment regarding public order because it has nothing to do with procession or demonstrations," he said and accused the police of highhandedness.

Mao died on September 9, 1976 and was succeeded by moderate Deng Xiaoping, who virtually turned the party policies upside down by carrying out massive economic reforms helping the country to transform into the second largest economy in the world, next only to the US.

The present CPC leadership headed by President Hu Jintao studiously stuck to Deng's philosophy of economic opening up, while stonewalling political reforms.

While the CPC officially continue to acknowledge Mao's leadership, criticism about damage caused by his policies like Long March, Cultural Revolution purging the society of intellectuals and dissidents resulting in the deaths of thousands people is encouraged among party ranks.

The Communist party is bracing to put new face to the sole party in China which has ruled the country uninterrupted since 1949.

During the next year's crucial party Congress, the present set of leaders are to quit to pave for new generation of leaders.

(Agencies)