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Who is Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong – A Communist who always dreamt about Independent China
A name that stands pre-eminently distinct in Chinese history and in the history of 20th century is none other than Mao Zedong. He is termed as a controversial figure for many a reason but his importance in modern world history cannot be overlooked. His name is associated with such accomplishments as modernizing China and converting it into a world power; improving the status of women; maximizing life expectancy; initiating universal housing and uplifting education and health care system.
However, on the contrary, his rule is also remembered for the deaths of 40-70 million people owing to starvation, executions and forced labor.

Mao Zedong is compared with renowned historical figures such as Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte, Alexander the Great, and Qin Shi Huang. Just like theirs, his rule can be termed as an interesting mix of good and bad, leaving an imprint for the people to read and wonder. Mao Zedong was the Chairman of People’s Republic of China for nearly 10 years, which started from 1949 and ended in1959. He was the de facto head of Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from 1935 till his death in 1976. He is recognized as the architect of modern communism. Even when Mao was a popular communist leader in China, his well-debated theories like “Great Leap Forward” or even the so called “Cultural Revolution” saw some unwanted results. But there were other theories like China’s self-reliance that were widely acclaimed by his contemporaries and succeeding generations.

Early Life
Mao Zedong was born on 26 December, 1893 in Shaosan, in the Hunan Province of China. He was born in a peasant family where cultivation was the main source of income for three generations. Mao’s father was a prominent grain dealer and mother, Wen Qimei was a homemaker. During his growing up years, China's economy was struggling to develop. While most families used to struggle to earn their livelihood, Mao’s family was better off. Mao was admitted to local school at the age of 8 to receive primary education but when he was 13, he started working in the fields putting a temporary stop to his academic career. But he always had the urge to learn. When his father arranged his marriage at the age of 14, he left home in search of higher education and enrolled himself in a secondary school in Changsha under Hunan province. Gradually, he became inclined towards the Communist movement in China.. It is at this juncture that he came across some new concepts from the West and he started studying revolutionary ideas.

Communist Mao
Mao Zedong had little success in his professional career. He initially became a teacher after graduating from Hunan First Normal School in 1918. After his mother’s death in the same year, he did not return home and instead went to Beijing in search of a job. After putting in all the efforts, he got a position of Assistant Librarian in the Beijing University. At the same time, he got exposed to the successful Russian revolution that was instrumental in developing a communist Soviet Union. Mao Zedong then started giving more time in shaping his mind and started following Lenin’s path as he believed that farmers and peasants can bring this revolution in that part of Asia. Gradually, he rose higher in rank, primarily because of his thoughts and execution power. In the meantime, Chinese President Sun Yat-Sen died and Chiang Kai Shek became the new chairman of Kuomintang. As Chaing Kai Shek was more conservative and traditional than his predecessor, he was not able to maintain alliance with the CCP resulting in a major split between the Nationalists and Communists in 1927. As an immediate outcome, violence broke out in China and Mao Zedong led an army of peasants against Kuomintang. But his efforts went in vain as he was easily defeated and most of the peasants fled to Jiangxi province. Thereafter, Mao Zedong was elected the chairman of that small republic. By his own e endeavor, Mao made a strong team of guerrilla fighters. .

Long March
After the retreat ofthe Mao-led Communists , nearly 100000 people trekked west and north of China for the next 2 months,and this is today popularly known as the great “Long March” of China. During this 8000 miles journey many people died and only around 30000 survived. As the news spread that the Communists had escaped, many young people migrated to Yanan. At this juncture, Mao Zedong put his oratory skills into good use and motivated volunteers to join his great cause. Eventually he went on to become one of the top Communist leaders of all time.

Japan vs China
In 1937, Japanese Imperial Army forced Chiang Kai Shek to flee Nanking. Japan took control of all major cities and coastal areas. A devastated Chiang Kai Shek sought help of Communists and Mao Zedong again proved a perfect and powerful leader who ultimately defeated Japan in 1945 and became the controlling force of China. Mao Zedong announced the formation of People’s Republic of China in 1949 at Tiananmen Square, Beijing. Simultaneously, Chiang Kai Shek formed the Republic of China in Taiwan.

Mao Zedong as a Ruler
Mao Zedong drove transformation in China with his vision and reforms. His land reforms may not have been perfectly right, but somehow he was able to bring together all the dissatisfied people and convinced them for the good of the People's Republic of China. He gave more importance to the women, started schools, increased literacy and gave emphasis on health care also. Mao’s policy didn't witness widespread adoption in urban areas. He often feared of being outnumbered and in many cases he had ordered several people to be put behind the bars marking them as “Rightists”.

Like “Long March”, Mao Zedong launched “Great Leap Forward” only to increase industrial and agricultural production targeted for nearly 75000 people. Each family got a small piece of land along with the share of profit but, after three years, the situation was different when flood and bad harvesting created substantial damage. It was quite evident then that Mao Zedong can be instrumental in organizing a revolution, but running a country was a different ball game. Due to the failure of this initiative, Mao's popularity diminished and for the first time in 25 years, Mao was not included in the central committee and featured nowhere as a central figure.

Return of Mao
Year 1966 saw the return of Mao Dezong and his new cultural revolution. He started to hold rallies with thousands of supporters including the young generation displaying willingness to believe him once again and walk on the path he had chosen. They forgot his failure in “Great Leap Forward” and came together to start a revolution in China. He made himself the undisputed leader of the troupe and started to act like a dictator. He ordered closure of most of the schools in China and young people were sent to the countryside to be re-educated through hard labor. And this entire process destroyed the rich cultural heritage that China had for years and created a social chaos in the entire nation. Mao’s reputation started to decline during this period.

In 1972, Mao met the US President Richard Nixon, held bilateral talks and he was successful in easing tensions between the two countries. As a consequence, China started to emerge as a powerful nation. Gradually, Mao’s health started to deteriorate and he suffered two major heart attacks in 1976. He couldn't revive after the third attack struck him on 5 September.

Personal Life
Mao kept his personal life away from the limelight. It was only after his death that his personal physician Li Zhisui published a memoir titled “The Private Life of Chairman Mao”. This memoir revealed some strange aspects of Mao’s life. He was a heavy smoker, had rare bathing and dental habits, was addicted to sleeping pills, and had many sexual partners. It was reported that he never brushed his teeth but instead washed his mouth with tea and chewed the leaves. According to another report. he did not take bath for a quarter of a century.

Mao Zedong married four times and had a total of 10 children. He married Luo Yixiu in 1907, Yang Kaihui in 1921, He Zizhen in 1928 and Jiang Qing in 1939. He had several siblings out of which two brothers and two sisters died young. Mao Zedong became the grandfather to 12 grandchildren and many of his great-grandchildren are still alive today. Out of his granddaughters, Kong Dongmei is a businesswoman and one of the richest people in China. Mao Xinyu, his grandson, is a general in the Chinese Army.

Mao Dezong died on 18 September, 1976 at the age of 82 at Beijing due to complications that arose out of Parkinson’s disease. He is remembered both as a political genius and genocidal monster. He is still considered as the savior of China for his unconventional political strategies and military operations. But his decision to shut down trade, industry and commerce of China was not accepted by his successors and they tried to revive the age-old Chinese culture that was lost during his regime.

Most of the people give Mao the credit for devising the pattern of the struggle based on the lines of the guerrilla warfare in the countryside that ultimately helped him win the civil wars. He is also credited for successfully imparting a positive attitude in common people so that they too can win any battle. These contributions had endeared him to many. There is no denial of the fact that his emphasis on self-reliance prompted China to be at par with the developed countries in a very short span of time, however, the method he adopted was harsh and didn't always yield favorable results for the people.

Facts and Information
Full NameMao Zedong
BornDecember 26, 1893
Place of BirthShaoshan, Hunan Province, China
Political PartyCommunist Party of China
Political RecognitionSupreme Leader of China
FatherMao Zedong
MotherWen Qimei
TeenageHard Worker
SchoolingNo Formal Schooling although went to school at an early age. Then he graduated from the First Provincial Normal School in Changsha in 1918.
OccupationRevolutionary, Statesman
AchievementsThe Long March
SpousesLuo Yixiu (1907–1910)
Yang Kaihui (1920–1930)
He Zizhen (1930–1937)
Jiang Qing (1939–1976)
DiedSeptember 18, 1976, at the age of 82, in Beijing, China
Resting PlaceChairman Mao Memorial Hall, Beijing
1st Chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of ChinaIn office
June 19, 1945 – September 9, 1976
1st Chairman of the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of ChinaIn office
March 20, 1943 – April 24, 1969
1st Chairman of the CPC Central Military CommissionIn office
August 23, 1945 – 1949
1st Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCCIn office
September 21, 1949 – December 25, 1954
Honorary ChairmanDecember 25, 1954 – September 9, 1976
1st Chairman of the People's Republic of ChinaIn office
September 27, 1954 – April 27, 1959
Member of the National People's CongressIn office
September 15, 1954 – April 18, 1959
December 21, 1964 – September 9, 1976


Last Updated :December 24, 2014

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