Mao Zedong

From 1934 to 1950, the Communist party was left in relative isolation in the caves of Yan'an as Mao rebuilt the People's Army and strengthened his support with the peasants interested in land reform, increased literacy, and a more equitable society. Mao also established his nationalist credentials by leading the fight against Japanese occupation. By 1950, Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang were forced to flee mainland China for Taiwan.

Once in power, Mao Zedong realized many of his communist revolutionary ideals. These included nationalizing the economy to force rapid industrial growth, redistributing land ownership in the countryside to the peasants, establishing literacy programs, and banishing all foreign economic and cultural influence. Mao abolished the traditional subjugation of women, forced marriage, and made religious practice illegal. However, Mao instituted several destructive and violent initiatives during the 1950s and 1960s, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, to eliminate all political and cultural hierarchies to create a more egalitarian society.

Tensions between Taiwan and mainland China continue to this day. Relations between the Soviet Union and China broke down during the 1950s – the two countries have been on the brink of war many times since.

Read this article about Mao Zedong. Pay attention to his rise in power and how he was able to form the Communist Party in China. Consider how China interacted with Tibet and Korea as it transitioned to a communist state.

Mao Zedong

Photo fo Mao Zedong

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Mao.

Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung, and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao (December 26, 1893 - September 9, 1976), was a Chinese communist revolutionary and a founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he governed as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death. His Marxist-Leninist theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.

Born the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan, Mao adopted a Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist outlook in early life. He converted to Marxism-Leninism and became a founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), of which he became the head during the Long March. On October 1, 1949 Mao proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China. In the following years he solidified his control through land reforms, through a psychological victory in the Korean War, and through campaigns against landlords, people he termed "counterrevolutionaries," and other perceived enemies of the state. In 1957 he launched a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China's economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign, however, exacerbated agrarian problems leading to one the deadliest famines in history. In 1966, he initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to weed out supposed counter-revolutionary elements in Chinese society. In 1972, he welcomed American president Richard Nixon in Beijing, signaling a policy of opening China.

A highly controversial figure, Mao is regarded as one of the most important individuals in modern world history. Supporters regard him as a great leader and credit him with numerous accomplishments including modernizing China and building it into a world power, promoting the status of women, improving education and health care, providing universal housing, and increasing life expectancy as China's population grew from around 550 to over 900 million during the period of his leadership. In contrast, critics, including many historians, have characterized him as a dictator who oversaw systematic human rights abuses, and whose rule is estimated to have contributed to the deaths of 40–70 million people through starvation, forced labor, and executions, ranking his tenure as the top incidence of democide in human history.

Source: New World Encyclopedia,
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