Which political leader do you associate most with China, especially modern China? Hu Jintao may be the current President of the People's Republic of China, Dr. Sun Yat-sen may be known to millions of Chinese as the Father of Modern China, and Deng Xiaoping certainly had an impact on the country but my definite sense is that for most people in the world, it's still Mao Zedong who they most associate with China.
Interestingly, however, it seems that Mao's grip on the imagination of the contemporary denizens of the state he had a major hand in establishing looks to be loosening somewhat recently. Put another way: if a major ceremony like August 8th's Beijing Olympics opener had been staged even just a decade ago, would it have been likely that there would be no mention of Mao whatsoever during it? As for the Mao jacket: According to a International Herald Tribune article from December of that year, those previously iconic pieces of clothing were already "just a memory" in Beijing 2004.
Then there are the comments of Chinese conceptual artist Sui Jianguo -- an exhibition of whose works is currently on at Hong Kong's Times Square -- in yesterday's Sunday Morning Post (which, like the rest of the South China Morning Post, requires a subscription to access it online) about his art works that more than one person has seen as referencing Mao jackets but which he maintains are meant to "symbolise Sun Yat-sen's revolution in 1911, and the Chinese's reverence for [Sun]" even while also noting that that particular piece of clothing is "part of our culture and tradition. Not everyone wears it now, but it's still in our soul and spirit..."