A stand for freedom of expression or just poor taste?

That's the debate that has emerged in Richmond, B.C., after a large stainless steel sculpture was installed near a busy intersection a couple weeks ago.

The sculpture, located at the corner of Alderbridge and Elmbridge ways, depicts a miniature statue of Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong standing atop a large bust of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin.

Titled "Miss Mao Trying to Poise Herself at the Top of Lenin's Head," the sculpture was created by two brothers from Beijing, who are known for their controversial depictions of Mao.

The art installation is part of Vancouver's Biennale program.

Local resident Chris Neale said he feels the sculpture is in poor taste.

"Both of those regimes were responsible for the disappearance and killing of many people," Neale told CTV News on Monday.

He said he doesn't think it is appropriate to have the sculpture located so close to the Olympic oval.

"We're supposed to be welcoming the world and we've got a number of Canadian artists and sculptors that could do a marvelous job in recognition of their Canadian talent."

Richmond city Councillor Derek Dang disagrees.

"I certainly think that it would leave the impression this city, this country is an open society, ready to grasp different concepts and different ideas," he said.

City officials say their intent is not to disrespect other cultures but to support freedom of expression.

The work of the two brothers has been banned in their home country of China.

The sculpture is one of seven art projects that are being installed in Richmond as part of the Biennale. The city is spending $75,000 to prepare the sites and install the works of art.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber