Mao Zedong | Wikipedia audio article

Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893 – September
9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became
the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of
the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political
policies are collectively known as Maoism. Mao was the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan,
Hunan. He had a Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist
outlook early in his life, and was particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution
of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919. He later adopted Marxism–Leninism while
working at Peking University, and became a founding member of the Communist Party of
China (CPC), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927. During the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang
(KMT) and the CPC, Mao helped to found the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, led
the Jiangxi Soviet’s radical land policies, and ultimately became head of the CPC during
the Long March. Although the CPC temporarily allied with the
KMT under the United Front during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), China’s civil
war resumed after Japan’s surrender and in 1949 Mao’s forces defeated the Nationalist
government, which withdrew to Taiwan. On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation
of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a single-party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years he solidified his control
through land reforms and through a psychological victory in the Korean War, as well as through
campaigns against landlords, people he termed “counter-revolutionaries”, 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 agrarian to industrial. This campaign led to the deadliest famine
in history and the deaths of an estimated minimum of 45 million people between 1958
and 1962. In 1966, Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution,
a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements in Chinese society which lasted 10
years and was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts,
and an unprecedented elevation of Mao’s cult of personality. The program is now officially regarded as
a “severe setback” for the PRC. In 1972, Mao welcomed American President Richard
Nixon in Beijing, signalling the start of a policy of opening China to the world. After years of ill health, Mao suffered a
series of heart attacks in 1976 and died at the age of 82. He was succeeded as paramount leader by Premier
Hua Guofeng, who was quickly sidelined and replaced by Deng Xiaoping. A controversial figure, Mao is regarded as
one of the most important and influential individuals in modern world history. He is also known as a political intellect,
theorist, military strategist, poet, and visionary. Supporters credit him with driving imperialism
out of China, modernising the nation and building it into a world power, promoting the status
of women, improving education and health care, as well as increasing life expectancy as China’s
population grew from around 550 million to over 900 million under his leadership. Conversely, his regime has been called autocratic
and totalitarian, and condemned for bringing about mass repression and destroying religious
and cultural artifacts and sites. It was additionally responsible for vast numbers
of deaths with estimates ranging from 30 to 70 million victims.==Early life=====Youth and the Xinhai Revolution: 1893–1911
===Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893,
in Shaoshan village, Hunan Province, China. His father, Mao Yichang, was a formerly impoverished
peasant who had become one of the wealthiest farmers in Shaoshan. Growing up in rural Hunan, Mao described his
father as a stern disciplinarian, who would beat him and his three siblings, the boys
Zemin and Zetan, as well as an adopted girl, Zejian. Mao’s mother, Wen Qimei, was a devout Buddhist
who tried to temper her husband’s strict attitude. Mao too became a Buddhist, but abandoned this
faith in his mid-teenage years. At age 8, Mao was sent to Shaoshan Primary
School. Learning the value systems of Confucianism,
he later admitted that he didn’t enjoy the classical Chinese texts preaching Confucian
morals, instead favouring popular novels like Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Water Margin. At age 13, Mao finished primary education,
and his father united him in an arranged marriage to the 17-year-old Luo Yigu, thereby uniting
their land-owning families. Mao refused to recognise her as his wife,
becoming a fierce critic of arranged marriage and temporarily moving away. Luo was locally disgraced and died in 1910. While working on his father’s farm, Mao read
voraciously and developed a “political consciousness” from Zheng Guanying’s booklet which lamented
the deterioration of Chinese power and argued for the adoption of representative democracy. Interested in history, Mao was inspired by
the military prowess and nationalistic fervour of George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. His political views were shaped by Gelaohui-led
protests which erupted following a famine in Changsha, the capital of Hunan; Mao supported
the protesters’ demands, but the armed forces suppressed the dissenters and executed their
leaders. The famine spread to Shaoshan, where starving
peasants seized his father’s grain. He disapproved of their actions as morally
wrong, but claimed sympathy for their situation. At age 16, Mao moved to a higher primary school
in nearby Dongshan, where he was bullied for his peasant background.In 1911, Mao began
middle school in Changsha. Revolutionary sentiment was strong in the
city, where there was widespread animosity towards Emperor Puyi’s absolute monarchy and
many were advocating republicanism. The republicans’ figurehead was Sun Yat-sen,
an American-educated Christian who led the Tongmenghui society. In Changsha, Mao was influenced by Sun’s newspaper,
The People’s Independence (Minli bao), and called for Sun to become president in a school
essay. As a symbol of rebellion against the Manchu
monarch, Mao and a friend cut off their queue pigtails, a sign of subservience to the emperor.Inspired
by Sun’s republicanism, the army rose up across southern China, sparking the Xinhai Revolution. Changsha’s governor fled, leaving the city
in republican control. Supporting the revolution, Mao joined the
rebel army as a private soldier, but was not involved in fighting. The northern provinces remained loyal to the
emperor, and hoping to avoid a civil war, Sun—proclaimed “provisional president” by
his supporters—compromised with the monarchist general Yuan Shikai. The monarchy was abolished, creating the Republic
of China, but the monarchist Yuan became president. The revolution over, Mao resigned from the
army in 1912, after six months as a soldier. Around this time, Mao discovered socialism
from a newspaper article; proceeding to read pamphlets by Jiang Kanghu, the student founder
of the Chinese Socialist Party, Mao remained interested yet unconvinced by the idea.===Fourth Normal School of Changsha: 1912–19
===Over the next few years, Mao Zedong enrolled
and dropped out of a police academy, a soap-production school, a law school, an economics school,
and the government-run Changsha Middle School. Studying independently, he spent much time
in Changsha’s library, reading core works of classical liberalism such as Adam Smith’s
The Wealth of Nations and Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, as well as the works of
western scientists and philosophers such as Darwin, Mill, Rousseau, and Spencer. Viewing himself as an intellectual, years
later he admitted that at this time he thought himself better than working people. He was inspired by Friedrich Paulsen, whose
liberal emphasis on individualism led Mao to believe that strong individuals were not
bound by moral codes but should strive for the greater good, and that the “end justifies
the means” conclusion of Consequentialism. His father saw no use in his son’s intellectual
pursuits, cut off his allowance and forced him to move into a hostel for the destitute. Mao desired to become a teacher and enrolled
at the Fourth Normal School of Changsha, which soon merged with the First Normal School of
Changsha, widely seen as the best in Hunan. Befriending Mao, professor Yang Changji urged
him to read a radical newspaper, New Youth (Xin qingnian), the creation of his friend
Chen Duxiu, a dean at Peking University. Although a Chinese nationalist, Chen argued
that China must look to the west to cleanse itself of superstition and autocracy. Mao published his first article in New Youth
in April 1917, instructing readers to increase their physical strength to serve the revolution. He joined the Society for the Study of Wang
Fuzhi (Chuan-shan Hsüeh-she), a revolutionary group founded by Changsha literati who wished
to emulate the philosopher Wang Fuzhi.In his first school year, Mao befriended an older
student, Xiao Zisheng; together they went on a walking tour of Hunan, begging and writing
literary couplets to obtain food. A popular student, in 1915 Mao was elected
secretary of the Students Society. He organized the Association for Student Self-Government
and led protests against school rules. In spring 1917, he was elected to command
the students’ volunteer army, set up to defend the school from marauding soldiers. Increasingly interested in the techniques
of war, he took a keen interest in World War I, and also began to develop a sense of solidarity
with workers. Mao undertook feats of physical endurance
with Xiao Zisheng and Cai Hesen, and with other young revolutionaries they formed the
Renovation of the People Study Society in April 1918 to debate Chen Duxiu’s ideas. Desiring personal and societal transformation,
the Society gained 70–80 members, many of whom would later join the Communist Party. Mao graduated in June 1919, ranked third in
the year.==Early revolutionary activity=====Beijing, Anarchism, and Marxism: 1917–19
===Mao moved to Beijing, where his mentor Yang
Changji had taken a job at Peking University. Yang thought Mao exceptionally “intelligent
and handsome”, securing him a job as assistant to the university librarian Li Dazhao, an
early Chinese Communist. Li authored a series of New Youth articles
on the October Revolution in Russia, during which the Communist Bolshevik Party under
the leadership of Vladimir Lenin had seized power. Lenin was an advocate of the socio-political
theory of Marxism, first developed by the German sociologists Karl Marx and Friedrich
Engels, and Li’s articles brought an understanding of Marxism to the Chinese revolutionary movement. Becoming “more and more radical”, Mao was
influenced by Peter Kropotkin’s anarchism, but joined Li’s Study Group and “developed
rapidly toward Marxism” during the winter of 1919.Paid a low wage, Mao lived in a cramped
room with seven other Hunanese students, but believed that Beijing’s beauty offered “vivid
and living compensation”. At the university, Mao was widely snubbed
by other students due to his rural Hunanese accent and lowly position. He joined the university’s Philosophy and
Journalism Societies and attended lectures and seminars by the likes of Chen Duxiu, Hu
Shi, and Qian Xuantong. Mao’s time in Beijing ended in the spring
of 1919, when he travelled to Shanghai with friends who were preparing to leave for France. He did not return to Shaoshan, where his mother
was terminally ill. She died in October 1919, with her husband
dying in January 1920.===New Culture and political protests, 1919–20
===On May 4, 1919, students in Beijing gathered
at the Gate of Heavenly Peace to protest the Chinese government’s weak resistance to Japanese
expansion in China. Patriots were outraged at the influence given
to Japan in the Twenty-One Demands in 1915, the complicity of Duan Qirui’s Beiyang Government,
and the betrayal of China in the Treaty of Versailles, wherein Japan was allowed to receive
territories in Shandong which had been surrendered by Germany. These demonstrations ignited the nationwide
May Fourth Movement and fueled the New Culture Movement which blamed China’s diplomatic defeats
on social and cultural backwardness.In Changsha, Mao had begun teaching history at the Xiuye
Primary School and organizing protests against the pro-Duan Governor of Hunan Province, Zhang
Jingyao, popularly known as “Zhang the Venomous” due to his corrupt and violent rule. In late May, Mao co-founded the Hunanese Student
Association with He Shuheng and Deng Zhongxia, organizing a student strike for June and in
July 1919 began production of a weekly radical magazine, Xiang River Review (Xiangjiang pinglun). Using vernacular language that would be understandable
to the majority of China’s populace, he advocated the need for a “Great Union of the Popular
Masses”, strengthened trade unions able to wage non-violent revolution. His ideas were not Marxist, but heavily influenced
by Kropotkin’s concept of mutual aid. Zhang banned the Student Association, but
Mao continued publishing after assuming editorship of the liberal magazine New Hunan (Xin Hunan)
and offered articles in popular local newspaper Justice (Ta Kung Po). Several of these advocated feminist views,
calling for the liberation of women in Chinese society; Mao was influenced by his forced
arranged-marriage. In December 1919, Mao helped organise a general
strike in Hunan, securing some concessions, but Mao and other student leaders felt threatened
by Zhang, and Mao returned to Beijing, visiting the terminally ill Yang Changji. Mao found that his articles had achieved a
level of fame among the revolutionary movement, and set about soliciting support in overthrowing
Zhang. Coming across newly translated Marxist literature
by Thomas Kirkup, Karl Kautsky, and Marx and Engels—notably The Communist Manifesto—he
came under their increasing influence, but was still eclectic in his views.Mao visited
Tianjin, Jinan, and Qufu, before moving to Shanghai, where he worked as a laundryman
and met Chen Duxiu, noting that Chen’s adoption of Marxism “deeply impressed me at what was
probably a critical period in my life”. In Shanghai, Mao met an old teacher of his,
Yi Peiji, a revolutionary and member of the Kuomintang (KMT), or Chinese Nationalist Party,
which was gaining increasing support and influence. Yi introduced Mao to General Tan Yankai, a
senior KMT member who held the loyalty of troops stationed along the Hunanese border
with Guangdong. Tan was plotting to overthrow Zhang, and Mao
aided him by organizing the Changsha students. In June 1920, Tan led his troops into Changsha,
and Zhang fled. In the subsequent reorganization of the provincial
administration, Mao was appointed headmaster of the junior section of the First Normal
School. Now receiving a large income, he married Yang
Kaihui in the winter of 1920.===Founding the Communist Party of China:
1921–22===The Communist Party of China was founded by
Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao in the French concession of Shanghai in 1921 as a study society and
informal network. Mao set up a Changsha branch, also establishing
a branch of the Socialist Youth Corps. Opening a bookstore under the control of his
new Cultural Book Society, its purpose was to propagate revolutionary literature throughout
Hunan. He was involved in the movement for Hunan
autonomy, in the hope that a Hunanese constitution would increase civil liberties and make his
revolutionary activity easier. When the movement was successful in establishing
provincial autonomy under a new warlord, Mao forgot his involvement. By 1921, small Marxist groups existed in Shanghai,
Beijing, Changsha, Wuhan, Guangzhou, and Jinan; it was decided to hold a central meeting,
which began in Shanghai on July 23, 1921. The first session of the National Congress
of the Communist Party of China was attended by 13 delegates, Mao included. After the authorities sent a police spy to
the congress, the delegates moved to a boat on South Lake near Jiaxing, in Zhejiang, to
escape detection. Although Soviet and Comintern delegates attended,
the first congress ignored Lenin’s advice to accept a temporary alliance between the
Communists and the “bourgeois democrats” who also advocated national revolution; instead
they stuck to the orthodox Marxist belief that only the urban proletariat could lead
a socialist revolution.Mao was now party secretary for Hunan stationed in Changsha, and to build
the party there he followed a variety of tactics. In August 1921, he founded the Self-Study
University, through which readers could gain access to revolutionary literature, housed
in the premises of the Society for the Study of Wang Fuzhi, a Qing dynasty Hunanese philosopher
who had resisted the Manchus. He joined the YMCA Mass Education Movement
to fight illiteracy, though he edited the textbooks to include radical sentiments. He continued organizing workers to strike
against the administration of Hunan Governor Zhao Hengti. Yet labor issues remained central. The successful and famous Anyuan coal mines
strikes (contrary to later Party historians) depended on both “proletarian” and “bourgeois”
strategies. Liu Shaoqi and Li Lisan and Mao not only mobilised
the miners, but formed schools and cooperatives and engaged local intellectuals, gentry, military
officers, merchants, Red Gang dragon heads and even church clergy.Mao claimed that he
missed the July 1922 Second Congress of the Communist Party in Shanghai because he lost
the address. Adopting Lenin’s advice, the delegates agreed
to an alliance with the “bourgeois democrats” of the KMT for the good of the “national revolution”. Communist Party members joined the KMT, hoping
to push its politics leftward. Mao enthusiastically agreed with this decision,
arguing for an alliance across China’s socio-economic classes. Mao was a vocal anti-imperialist and in his
writings he lambasted the governments of Japan, UK and US, describing the latter as “the most
murderous of hangmen”.===Collaboration with the Kuomintang: 1922–27
===At the Third Congress of the Communist Party
in Shanghai in June 1923, the delegates reaffirmed their commitment to working with the KMT. Supporting this position, Mao was elected
to the Party Committee, taking up residence in Shanghai. At the First KMT Congress, held in Guangzhou
in early 1924, Mao was elected an alternate member of the KMT Central Executive Committee,
and put forward four resolutions to decentralise power to urban and rural bureaus. His enthusiastic support for the KMT earned
him the suspicion of Li Li-san, his Hunan comrade.In late 1924, Mao returned to Shaoshan,
perhaps to recuperate from an illness. He found that the peasantry were increasingly
restless and some had seized land from wealthy landowners to found communes. This convinced him of the revolutionary potential
of the peasantry, an idea advocated by the KMT leftists but not the Communists. He returned to Guangzhou to run the 6th term
of the KMT’s Peasant Movement Training Institute from May to September 1926. The Peasant Movement Training Institute under
Mao trained cadre and prepared them for militant activity, taking them through military training
exercises and getting them to study basic left-wing texts. In the winter of 1925, Mao fled to Guangzhou
after his revolutionary activities attracted the attention of Zhao’s regional authorities.When
party leader Sun Yat-sen died in May 1925, he was succeeded by Chiang Kai-shek, who moved
to marginalise the left-KMT and the Communists. Mao nevertheless supported Chiang’s National
Revolutionary Army, who embarked on the Northern Expedition attack in 1926 on warlords. In the wake of this expedition, peasants rose
up, appropriating the land of the wealthy landowners, who were in many cases killed. Such uprisings angered senior KMT figures,
who were themselves landowners, emphasizing the growing class and ideological divide within
the revolutionary movement. In March 1927, Mao appeared at the Third Plenum
of the KMT Central Executive Committee in Wuhan, which sought to strip General Chiang
of his power by appointing Wang Jingwei leader. There, Mao played an active role in the discussions
regarding the peasant issue, defending a set of “Regulations for the Repression of Local
Bullies and Bad Gentry”, which advocated the death penalty or life imprisonment for anyone
found guilty of counter-revolutionary activity, arguing that in a revolutionary situation,
“peaceful methods cannot suffice”. In April 1927, Mao was appointed to the KMT’s
five-member Central Land Committee, urging peasants to refuse to pay rent. Mao led another group to put together a “Draft
Resolution on the Land Question”, which called for the confiscation of land belonging to
“local bullies and bad gentry, corrupt officials, militarists and all counter-revolutionary
elements in the villages”. Proceeding to carry out a “Land Survey”, he
stated that anyone owning over 30 mou (four and a half acres), constituting 13% of the
population, were uniformly counter-revolutionary. He accepted that there was great variation
in revolutionary enthusiasm across the country, and that a flexible policy of land redistribution
was necessary. Presenting his conclusions at the Enlarged
Land Committee meeting, many expressed reservations, some believing that it went too far, and others
not far enough. Ultimately, his suggestions were only partially
implemented.==Civil War=====The Nanchang and Autumn Harvest Uprisings:
1927===Fresh from the success of the Northern Expedition
against the warlords, Chiang turned on the Communists, who by now numbered in the tens
of thousands across China. Chiang ignored the orders of the Wuhan-based
left KMT government and marched on Shanghai, a city controlled by Communist militias. As the Communists awaited Chiang’s arrival,
he loosed the White Terror, massacring 5000 with the aid of the Green Gang. In Beijing, 19 leading Communists were killed
by Zhang Zuolin. That May, tens of thousands of Communists
and those suspected of being communists were killed, and the CPC lost approximately 15,000
of its 25,000 members. The CPC continued supporting the Wuhan KMT
government, a position Mao initially supported, but by the time of the CPC’s Fifth Congress
he had changed his mind, deciding to stake all hope on the peasant militia. The question was rendered moot when the Wuhan
government expelled all Communists from the KMT on July 15. The CPC founded the Workers’ and Peasants’
Red Army of China, better known as the “Red Army”, to battle Chiang. A battalion led by General Zhu De was ordered
to take the city of Nanchang on August 1, 1927, in what became known as the Nanchang
Uprising. They were initially successful, but were forced
into retreat after five days, marching south to Shantou, and from there they were driven
into the wilderness of Fujian. Mao was appointed commander-in-chief of the
Red Army and led four regiments against Changsha in the Autumn Harvest Uprising, in the hope
of sparking peasant uprisings across Hunan. On the eve of the attack, Mao composed a poem—the
earliest of his to survive—titled “Changsha”. His plan was to attack the KMT-held city from
three directions on September 9, but the Fourth Regiment deserted to the KMT cause, attacking
the Third Regiment. Mao’s army made it to Changsha, but could
not take it; by September 15, he accepted defeat and with 1000 survivors marched east
to the Jinggang Mountains of Jiangxi.Jung Chang and Jon Halliday claim that the uprising
was in fact sabotaged by Mao to allow him to prevent a group of KMT soldiers from defecting
to any other CPC leader. Chang and Halliday also claim that Mao talked
the other leaders (including Russian diplomats at the Soviet consulate in Changsha who, Chang
and Halliday claim, had been controlling much of the CPC activity) into striking only at
Changsha, then abandoning it. Chang and Halliday report a view sent to Moscow
by the secretary of the Soviet Consulate in Changsha that the retreat was “the most despicable
treachery and cowardice.”===Base in Jinggangshan: 1927–1928===The CPC Central Committee, hiding in Shanghai,
expelled Mao from their ranks and from the Hunan Provincial Committee, as punishment
for his “military opportunism”, for his focus on rural activity, and for being too lenient
with “bad gentry”. They nevertheless adopted three policies he
had long championed: the immediate formation of Workers’ councils, the confiscation of
all land without exemption, and the rejection of the KMT. Mao’s response was to ignore them. He established a base in Jinggangshan City,
an area of the Jinggang Mountains, where he united five villages as a self-governing state,
and supported the confiscation of land from rich landlords, who were “re-educated” and
sometimes executed. He ensured that no massacres took place in
the region, and pursued a more lenient approach than that advocated by the Central Committee. He proclaimed that “Even the lame, the deaf
and the blind could all come in useful for the revolutionary struggle”, he boosted the
army’s numbers, incorporating two groups of bandits into his army, building a force of
around 1,800 troops. He laid down rules for his soldiers: prompt
obedience to orders, all confiscations were to be turned over to the government, and nothing
was to be confiscated from poorer peasants. In doing so, he molded his men into a disciplined,
efficient fighting force. In spring 1928, the Central Committee ordered
Mao’s troops to southern Hunan, hoping to spark peasant uprisings. Mao was skeptical, but complied. They reached Hunan, where they were attacked
by the KMT and fled after heavy losses. Meanwhile, KMT troops had invaded Jinggangshan,
leaving them without a base. Wandering the countryside, Mao’s forces came
across a CPC regiment led by General Zhu De and Lin Biao; they united, and attempted to
retake Jinggangshan. They were initially successful, but the KMT
counter-attacked, and pushed the CPC back; over the next few weeks, they fought an entrenched
guerrilla war in the mountains. The Central Committee again ordered Mao to
march to south Hunan, but he refused, and remained at his base. Contrastingly, Zhu complied, and led his armies
away. Mao’s troops fended the KMT off for 25 days
while he left the camp at night to find reinforcements. He reunited with the decimated Zhu’s army,
and together they returned to Jinggangshan and retook the base. There they were joined by a defecting KMT
regiment and Peng Dehuai’s Fifth Red Army. In the mountainous area they were unable to
grow enough crops to feed everyone, leading to food shortages throughout the winter.===Jiangxi Soviet Republic of China: 1929–1934
===In January 1929, Mao and Zhu evacuated the
base with 2,000 men and a further 800 provided by Peng, and took their armies south, to the
area around Tonggu and Xinfeng in Jiangxi. The evacuation led to a drop in morale, and
many troops became disobedient and began thieving; this worried Li Lisan and the Central Committee,
who saw Mao’s army as lumpenproletariat, that were unable to share in proletariat class
consciousness. In keeping with orthodox Marxist thought,
Li believed that only the urban proletariat could lead a successful revolution, and saw
little need for Mao’s peasant guerrillas; he ordered Mao to disband his army into units
to be sent out to spread the revolutionary message. Mao replied that while he concurred with Li’s
theoretical position, he would not disband his army nor abandon his base. Both Li and Mao saw the Chinese revolution
as the key to world revolution, believing that a CPC victory would spark the overthrow
of global imperialism and capitalism. In this, they disagreed with the official
line of the Soviet government and Comintern. Officials in Moscow desired greater control
over the CPC and removed Li from power by calling him to Russia for an inquest into
his errors. They replaced him with Soviet-educated Chinese
Communists, known as the “28 Bolsheviks”, two of whom, Bo Gu and Zhang Wentian, took
control of the Central Committee. Mao disagreed with the new leadership, believing
they grasped little of the Chinese situation, and he soon emerged as their key rival. In February 1930, Mao created the Southwest
Jiangxi Provincial Soviet Government in the region under his control. In November, he suffered emotional trauma
after his wife and sister were captured and beheaded by KMT general He Jian. Mao then married He Zizhen, an 18-year-old
revolutionary who bore him five children over the following nine years. Facing internal problems, members of the Jiangxi
Soviet accused him of being too moderate, and hence anti-revolutionary. In December, they tried to overthrow Mao,
resulting in the Futian incident, during which Mao’s loyalists tortured many and executed
between 2000 and 3000 dissenters. The CPC Central Committee moved to Jiangxi
which it saw as a secure area. In November it proclaimed Jiangxi to be the
Soviet Republic of China, an independent Communist-governed state. Although he was proclaimed Chairman of the
Council of People’s Commissars, Mao’s power was diminished, as his control of the Red
Army was allocated to Zhou Enlai. Meanwhile, Mao recovered from tuberculosis.The
KMT armies adopted a policy of encirclement and annihilation of the Red armies. Outnumbered, Mao responded with guerrilla
tactics influenced by the works of ancient military strategists like Sun Tzu, but Zhou
and the new leadership followed a policy of open confrontation and conventional warfare. In doing so, the Red Army successfully defeated
the first and second encirclements. Angered at his armies’ failure, Chiang Kai-shek
personally arrived to lead the operation. He too faced setbacks and retreated to deal
with the further Japanese incursions into China. As a result of the KMT’s change of focus to
the defence of China against Japanese expansionism, the Red Army was able to expand its area of
control, eventually encompassing a population of 3 million. Mao proceeded with his land reform program. In November 1931 he announced the start of
a “land verification project” which was expanded in June 1933. He also orchestrated education programs and
implemented measures to increase female political participation. Chiang viewed the Communists as a greater
threat than the Japanese and returned to Jiangxi, where he initiated the fifth encirclement
campaign, which involved the construction of a concrete and barbed wire “wall of fire”
around the state, which was accompanied by aerial bombardment, to which Zhou’s tactics
proved ineffective. Trapped inside, morale among the Red Army
dropped as food and medicine became scarce. The leadership decided to evacuate.===The Long March: 1934–1935===
On October 14, 1934, the Red Army broke through the KMT line on the Jiangxi Soviet’s south-west
corner at Xinfeng with 85,000 soldiers and 15,000 party cadres and embarked on the “Long
March”. In order to make the escape, many of the wounded
and the ill, as well as women and children, were left behind, defended by a group of guerrilla
fighters whom the KMT massacred. The 100,000 who escaped headed to southern
Hunan, first crossing the Xiang River after heavy fighting, and then the Wu River, in
Guizhou where they took Zunyi in January 1935. Temporarily resting in the city, they held
a conference; here, Mao was elected to a position of leadership, becoming Chairman of the Politburo,
and de facto leader of both Party and Red Army, in part because his candidacy was supported
by Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. Insisting that they operate as a guerrilla
force, he laid out a destination: the Shenshi Soviet in Shaanxi, Northern China, from where
the Communists could focus on fighting the Japanese. Mao believed that in focusing on the anti-imperialist
struggle, the Communists would earn the trust of the Chinese people, who in turn would renounce
the KMT.From Zunyi, Mao led his troops to Loushan Pass, where they faced armed opposition
but successfully crossed the river. Chiang flew into the area to lead his armies
against Mao, but the Communists outmanoeuvred him and crossed the Jinsha River. Faced with the more difficult task of crossing
the Tatu River, they managed it by fighting a battle over the Luding Bridge in May, taking
Luding. Marching through the mountain ranges around
Ma’anshan, in Moukung, Western Szechuan, they encountered the 50,000-strong CPC Fourth Front
Army of Zhang Guotao, and together proceeded to Maoerhkai and then Gansu. Zhang and Mao disagreed over what to do; the
latter wished to proceed to Shaanxi, while Zhang wanted to retreat east to Tibet or Sikkim,
far from the KMT threat. It was agreed that they would go their separate
ways, with Zhu De joining Zhang. Mao’s forces proceeded north, through hundreds
of kilometres of Grasslands, an area of quagmire where they were attacked by Manchu tribesman
and where many soldiers succumbed to famine and disease. Finally reaching Shaanxi, they fought off
both the KMT and an Islamic cavalry militia before crossing the Min Mountains and Mount
Liupan and reaching the Shenshi Soviet; only 7-8000 had survived. The Long March cemented Mao’s status as the
dominant figure in the party. In November 1935, he was named chairman of
the Military Commission. From this point onward, Mao was the Communist
Party’s undisputed leader, even though he would not become party chairman until 1943.Jung
Chang and Jon Halliday offered an alternative account on many events during this period
in their book Mao: The Unknown Story. For example, there was no battle at Luding
and the CPC crossed the bridge unopposed, the Long March was not a strategy of the CPC
but devised by Chiang Kai-shek, and Mao and other top CPC leaders did not walk the Long
March but were carried on litters. However, although well received in the popular
press, Chang and Halliday’s work has been highly criticized by professional historians.===Alliance with the Kuomintang: 1935–1940
===Mao’s troops arrived at the Yan’an Soviet
during October 1935 and settled in Pao An, until spring 1936. While there, they developed links with local
communities, redistributed and farmed the land, offered medical treatment, and began
literacy programs. Mao now commanded 15,000 soldiers, boosted
by the arrival of He Long’s men from Hunan and the armies of Zhu De and Zhang Guotao
returned from Tibet. In February 1936, they established the North
West Anti-Japanese Red Army University in Yan’an, through which they trained increasing
numbers of new recruits. In January 1937, they began the “anti-Japanese
expedition”, that sent groups of guerrilla fighters into Japanese-controlled territory
to undertake sporadic attacks. In May 1937, a Communist Conference was held
in Yan’an to discuss the situation. Western reporters also arrived in the “Border
Region” (as the Soviet had been renamed); most notable were Edgar Snow, who used his
experiences as a basis for Red Star Over China, and Agnes Smedley, whose accounts brought
international attention to Mao’s cause. On the Long March, Mao’s wife He Zizen had
been injured by a shrapnel wound to the head. She traveled to Moscow for medical treatment;
Mao proceeded to divorce her and marry an actress, Jiang Qing. Mao moved into a cave-house and spent much
of his time reading, tending his garden and theorizing. He came to believe that the Red Army alone
was unable to defeat the Japanese, and that a Communist-led “government of national defence”
should be formed with the KMT and other “bourgeois nationalist” elements to achieve this goal. Although despising Chiang Kai-shek as a “traitor
to the nation”, on May 5, he telegrammed the Military Council of the Nanking National Government
proposing a military alliance, a course of action advocated by Stalin. Although Chiang intended to ignore Mao’s message
and continue the civil war, he was arrested by one of his own generals, Zhang Xueliang,
in Xi’an, leading to the Xi’an Incident; Zhang forced Chiang to discuss the issue with the
Communists, resulting in the formation of a United Front with concessions on both sides
on December 25, 1937.The Japanese had taken both Shanghai and Nanking (Nanjing)—resulting
in the Nanking Massacre, an atrocity Mao never spoke of all his life—and was pushing the
Kuomintang government inland to Chungking. The Japanese’s brutality led to increasing
numbers of Chinese joining the fight, and the Red Army grew from 50,000 to 500,000. In August 1938, the Red Army formed the New
Fourth Army and the Eighth Route Army, which were nominally under the command of Chiang’s
National Revolutionary Army. In August 1940, the Red Army initiated the
Hundred Regiments Campaign, in which 400,000 troops attacked the Japanese simultaneously
in five provinces. It was a military success that resulted in
the death of 20,000 Japanese, the disruption of railways and the loss of a coal mine. From his base in Yan’an, Mao authored several
texts for his troops, including Philosophy of Revolution, which offered an introduction
to the Marxist theory of knowledge; Protracted Warfare, which dealt with guerilla and mobile
military tactics; and New Democracy, which laid forward ideas for China’s future.===Resuming civil war: 1940–1949===
In 1944, the Americans sent a special diplomatic envoy, called the Dixie Mission, to the Communist
Party of China. According to Edwin Moise, in Modern China:
A History 2nd Edition: Most of the Americans were favourably impressed. The CPC seemed less corrupt, more unified,
and more vigorous in its resistance to Japan than the KMT. United States fliers shot down over North
China … confirmed to their superiors that the CPC was both strong and popular over a
broad area. In the end, the contacts with the USA developed
with the CPC led to very little. After the end of World War II, the U.S. continued
their military assistance to Chiang Kai-shek and his KMT government forces against the
People’s Liberation Army (PLA) led by Mao Zedong during the civil war. Likewise, the Soviet Union gave quasi-covert
support to Mao by their occupation of north east China, which allowed the PLA to move
in en masse and take large supplies of arms left by the Japanese’s Kwantung Army.To enhance
the Red Army’s military operations, Mao as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China,
named his close associate General Zhu De to be its Commander-in-Chief. In 1948, under direct orders from Mao, the
People’s Liberation Army starved out the Kuomintang forces occupying the city of Changchun. At least 160,000 civilians are believed to
have perished during the siege, which lasted from June until October. PLA lieutenant colonel Zhang Zhenglu, who
documented the siege in his book White Snow, Red Blood, compared it to Hiroshima: “The
casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took
five months.” On January 21, 1949, Kuomintang forces suffered
great losses in decisive battles against Mao’s forces. In the early morning of December 10, 1949,
PLA troops laid siege to Chongqing and Chengdu on mainland China, and Chiang Kai-shek fled
from the mainland to Formosa (Taiwan).==Leadership of China==The People’s Republic of China was established
on October 1, 1949. It was the culmination of over two decades
of civil and international wars. Mao’s famous phrase “The Chinese people have
stood up” (Chinese: 中國人民從此站起來了) associated with the establishment of the People’s
Republic of China was not used in the speech he delivered from the Gate of Heavenly Peace
on October 1.Mao took up residence in Zhongnanhai, a compound next to the Forbidden City in Beijing,
and there he ordered the construction of an indoor swimming pool and other buildings. Mao’s physician Li Zhisui described him as
conducting business either in bed or by the side of the pool, preferring not to wear formal
clothes unless absolutely necessary. Li’s book, The Private Life of Chairman Mao,
is regarded as controversial, especially by those sympathetic to Mao. Mao often visited his villa in Wuhan between
1960 and 1974; the villa includes a garden, living quarters, conference room, bomb shelter
and swimming pool. In October 1950, Mao made the decision to
send the People’s Volunteer Army (PVA), a special unit of the People’s Liberation Army,
into the war in Korea and fight as well as to reinforce the armed forces of North Korea,
the Korean People’s Army, which had been in full retreat. Historical records showed that Mao directed
the PVA campaigns to the minutest details. As the Chairman of the CPC’s Central Military
Commission (CMC), he was also the Supreme Commander in Chief of the PLA and the People’s
Republic and Chairman of the ruling CPC. The PVA was under the overall command of then
newly installed Premier Zhou Enlai, with General Peng Dehuai as field commander and political
commissar.During the land reform, a significant numbers of landlords and well-to-do peasants
were beaten to death at mass meetings organised by the Communist Party as land was taken from
them and given to poorer peasants, which significantly reduced economic inequality. The Campaign to Suppress Counter-revolutionaries,
involved public executions that targeted mainly former Kuomintang officials, businessmen accused
of “disturbing” the market, former employees of Western companies and intellectuals whose
loyalty was suspect. In 1976, the U.S. State department estimated
as many as a million were killed in the land reform, and 800,000 killed in the counter-revolutionary
campaign.Mao himself claimed that a total of 700,000 people were killed in attacks on
“counter-revolutionaries” during the years 1950–1952. However, because there was a policy to select
“at least one landlord, and usually several, in virtually every village for public execution”,
the number of deaths range between 2 million and 5 million. In addition, at least 1.5 million people,
perhaps as many as 4 to 6 million, were sent to “reform through labour” camps where many
perished. Mao played a personal role in organizing the
mass repressions and established a system of execution quotas, which were often exceeded. He defended these killings as necessary for
the securing of power. The Mao government is generally credited with
eradicating both consumption and production of opium during the 1950s using unrestrained
repression and social reform. Ten million addicts were forced into compulsory
treatment, dealers were executed, and opium-producing regions were planted with new crops. Remaining opium production shifted south of
the Chinese border into the Golden Triangle region.Starting in 1951, Mao initiated two
successive movements in an effort to rid urban areas of corruption by targeting wealthy capitalists
and political opponents, known as the three-anti/five-anti campaigns. Whereas the three-anti campaign was a focused
purge of government, industrial and party officials, the five-anti campaign set its
sights slightly broader, targeting capitalist elements in general. Workers denounced their bosses, spouses turned
on their spouses, and children informed on their parents; the victims were often humiliated
at struggle sessions, a method designed to intimidate and terrify people to the maximum. Mao insisted that minor offenders be criticised
and reformed or sent to labour camps, “while the worst among them should be shot”. These campaigns took several hundred thousand
additional lives, the vast majority via suicide. In Shanghai, suicide by jumping from tall
buildings became so commonplace that residents avoided walking on the pavement near skyscrapers
for fear that suicides might land on them. Some biographers have pointed out that driving
those perceived as enemies to suicide was a common tactic during the Mao-era. For example, in his biography of Mao, Philip
Short notes that in the Yan’an Rectification Movement, Mao gave explicit instructions that
“no cadre is to be killed”, but in practice allowed security chief Kang Sheng to drive
opponents to suicide and that “this pattern was repeated throughout his leadership of
the People’s Republic”. Following the consolidation of power, Mao
launched the First Five-Year Plan (1953–1958), which aimed to end Chinese dependence upon
agriculture in order to become a world power. With the Soviet Union’s assistance, new industrial
plants were built and agricultural production eventually fell to a point where industry
was beginning to produce enough capital that China no longer needed the USSR’s support. The success of the First-Five Year Plan was
to encourage Mao to instigate the Second Five-Year Plan in 1958. Mao also launched a phase of rapid collectivization. The CPC introduced price controls as well
as a Chinese character simplification aimed at increasing literacy. Large-scale industrialization projects were
also undertaken. Programs pursued during this time include
the Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which Mao indicated his supposed willingness to consider
different opinions about how China should be governed. Given the freedom to express themselves, liberal
and intellectual Chinese began opposing the Communist Party and questioning its leadership. This was initially tolerated and encouraged. After a few months, however, Mao’s government
reversed its policy and persecuted those who had criticised the party, totaling perhaps
500,000, as well as those who were merely alleged to have been critical, in what is
called the Anti-Rightist Movement. Authors such as Jung Chang have alleged that
the Hundred Flowers Campaign was merely a ruse to root out “dangerous” thinking.Li Zhisui,
Mao’s physician, suggested that Mao had initially seen the policy as a way of weakening opposition
to him within the party and that he was surprised by the extent of criticism and the fact that
it came to be directed at his own leadership. It was only then that he used it as a method
of identifying and subsequently persecuting those critical of his government. The Hundred Flowers movement led to the condemnation,
silencing, and death of many citizens, also linked to Mao’s Anti-Rightist Movement, resulting
in deaths possibly in the millions.===Great Leap Forward===In January 1958, Mao launched the second Five-Year
Plan, known as the Great Leap Forward, a plan intended as an alternative model for economic
growth to the Soviet model focusing on heavy industry that was advocated by others in the
party. Under this economic program, the relatively
small agricultural collectives that had been formed to date were rapidly merged into far
larger people’s communes, and many of the peasants were ordered to work on massive infrastructure
projects and on the production of iron and steel. Some private food production was banned, and
livestock and farm implements were brought under collective ownership. Under the Great Leap Forward, Mao and other
party leaders ordered the implementation of a variety of unproven and unscientific new
agricultural techniques by the new communes. The combined effect of the diversion of labour
to steel production and infrastructure projects, and cyclical natural disasters led to an approximately
15% drop in grain production in 1959 followed by a further 10% decline in 1960 and no recovery
in 1961.In an effort to win favour with their superiors and avoid being purged, each layer
in the party hierarchy exaggerated the amount of grain produced under them. Based upon the fabricated success, party cadres
were ordered to requisition a disproportionately high amount of that fictitious harvest for
state use, primarily for use in the cities and urban areas but also for export. The result, compounded in some areas by drought
and in others by floods, was that rural peasants were left with little food for themselves
and many millions starved to death in the Great Chinese Famine. The famine was a direct cause of the death
of some 30 million Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Further, many children who became emaciated
and malnourished during years of hardship and struggle for survival died shortly after
the Great Leap Forward came to an end in 1962.The extent of Mao’s knowledge of the severity
of the situation has been disputed. Mao’s physician believed that he may have
been unaware of the extent of the famine, partly due to a reluctance to criticise his
policies, and the willingness of his staff to exaggerate or outright fake reports regarding
food production. Upon learning of the extent of the starvation,
Mao vowed to stop eating meat, an action followed by his staff.Hong Kong-based historian Frank
Dikötter, challenged the notion that Mao did not know about the famine throughout the
country until it was too late: The idea that the state mistakenly took too
much grain from the countryside because it assumed that the harvest was much larger than
it was is largely a myth—at most partially true for the autumn of 1958 only. In most cases the party knew very well that
it was starving its own people to death. At a secret meeting in the Jinjiang Hotel
in Shanghai dated March 25, 1959, Mao specifically ordered the party to procure up to one third
of all the grain, much more than had ever been the case. At the meeting he announced that “To distribute
resources evenly will only ruin the Great Leap Forward. When there is not enough to eat, people starve
to death. It is better to let half of the people die
so that the other half can eat their fill.” Professor Emeritus Thomas P. Bernstein of
Columbia University offered his view on Mao’s statement on starvation in the March 25, 1959,
meeting: Some scholars believe that this shows Mao’s
readiness to accept mass death on an immense scale. My own view is that this is an instance of
Mao’s use of hyperbole, another being his casual acceptance of death of half the population
during a nuclear war. In other contexts, Mao did not in fact accept
mass death. Zhou’s Chronology shows that in October 1958,
Mao expressed real concern that 40,000 people in Yunnan had starved to death (p. 173). Shortly after the March 25 meeting, he worried
about 25.2 million people who were at risk of starvation. But from late summer on, Mao essentially forgot
about this issue, until, as noted, the “Xinyang Incident” came to light in October 1960. In the article “Mao Zedong and the Famine
of 1959–1960: A Study in Wilfulness”, published in 2006 in The China Quarterly, Professor
Thomas P. Bernstein also discussed Mao’s change of attitudes during different phases of the
Great Leap Forward: In late autumn 1958, Mao Zedong strongly condemned
widespread practices of the Great Leap Forward (GLF) such as subjecting peasants to exhausting
labour without adequate food and rest, which had resulted in epidemics, starvation and
deaths. At that time Mao explicitly recognized that
anti-rightist pressures on officialdom were a major cause of “production at the expense
of livelihood.” While he was not willing to acknowledge that
only abandonment of the GLF could solve these problems, he did strongly demand that they
be addressed. After the July 1959 clash at Lushan with Peng
Dehuai, Mao revived the GLF in the context of a new, extremely harsh anti-rightist campaign,
which he relentlessly promoted into the spring of 1960 together with the radical policies
that he previously condemned. Not until spring 1960 did Mao again express
concern about abnormal deaths and other abuses, but he failed to apply the pressure needed
to stop them. Given what he had already learned about the
costs to the peasants of GLF extremism, the Chairman should have known that the revival
of GLF radicalism would exact a similar or even bigger price. Instead, he wilfully ignored the lessons of
the first radical phase for the sake of achieving extreme ideological and developmental goals. In Hungry Ghosts: Mao’s Secret Famine, Jasper
Becker notes that Mao was dismissive of reports he received of food shortages in the countryside
and refused to change course, believing that peasants were lying and that rightists and
kulaks were hoarding grain. He refused to open state granaries, and instead
launched a series of “anti-grain concealment” drives that resulted in numerous purges and
suicides. Other violent campaigns followed in which
party leaders went from village to village in search of hidden food reserves, and not
only grain, as Mao issued quotas for pigs, chickens, ducks and eggs. Many peasants accused of hiding food were
tortured and beaten to death.Whatever the cause of the disaster, Mao lost esteem among
many of the top party cadres. He was eventually forced to abandon the policy
in 1962, and he lost political power to moderate leaders such as Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Mao, however, supported by national propaganda,
claimed that he was only partly to blame for the famine. As a result, he was able to remain Chairman
of the Communist Party, with the Presidency transferred to Liu Shaoqi. The Great Leap Forward was a tragedy for the
vast majority of the Chinese. Although the steel quotas were officially
reached, almost all of the supposed steel made in the countryside was iron, as it had
been made from assorted scrap metal in home-made furnaces with no reliable source of fuel such
as coal. This meant that proper smelting conditions
could not be achieved. According to Zhang Rongmei, a geometry teacher
in rural Shanghai during the Great Leap Forward: We took all the furniture, pots, and pans
we had in our house, and all our neighbours did likewise. We put everything in a big fire and melted
down all the metal. The worst of the famine was steered towards
enemies of the state. As Jasper Becker explains: The most vulnerable section of China’s population,
around five per cent, were those whom Mao called ‘enemies of the people’. Anyone who had in previous campaigns of repression
been labeled a ‘black element’ was given the lowest priority in the allocation of food. Landlords, rich peasants, former members of
the nationalist regime, religious leaders, rightists, counter-revolutionaries and the
families of such individuals died in the greatest numbers. At a large Communist Party conference in Beijing
in January 1962, called the “Conference of the Seven Thousand”, State Chairman Liu Shaoqi
denounced the Great Leap Forward as responsible for widespread famine. The overwhelming majority of delegates expressed
agreement, but Defense Minister Lin Biao staunchly defended Mao. A brief period of liberalization followed
while Mao and Lin plotted a comeback. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping rescued the economy
by disbanding the people’s communes, introducing elements of private control of peasant smallholdings
and importing grain from Canada and Australia to mitigate the worst effects of famine.===Consequences===At the Lushan Conference in July/August 1959,
several ministers expressed concern that the Great Leap Forward had not proved as successful
as planned. The most direct of these was Minister of Defence
and Korean War veteran General Peng Dehuai. Following Peng’s criticism of the Great Leap
Forward, Mao orchestrated a purge of Peng and his supporters, stifling criticism of
the Great Leap policies. Senior officials who reported the truth of
the famine to Mao were branded as “right opportunists.” A campaign against right-wing opportunism
was launched and resulted in party members and ordinary peasants being sent to prison
labor camps where many would subsequently die in the famine. Years later the CPC would conclude that as
many as six million people were wrongly punished in the campaign.The number of deaths by starvation
during the Great Leap Forward is deeply controversial. Until the mid-1980s, when official census
figures were finally published by the Chinese Government, little was known about the scale
of the disaster in the Chinese countryside, as the handful of Western observers allowed
access during this time had been restricted to model villages where they were deceived
into believing that the Great Leap Forward had been a great success. There was also an assumption that the flow
of individual reports of starvation that had been reaching the West, primarily through
Hong Kong and Taiwan, must have been localised or exaggerated as China was continuing to
claim record harvests and was a net exporter of grain through the period. Because Mao wanted to pay back early to the
Soviets debts totalling 1.973 billion yuan from 1960 to 1962, exports increased by 50%,
and fellow Communist regimes in North Korea, North Vietnam and Albania were provided grain
free of charge.Censuses were carried out in China in 1953, 1964 and 1982. The first attempt to analyse this data to
estimate the number of famine deaths was carried out by American demographer Dr. Judith Banister
and published in 1984. Given the lengthy gaps between the censuses
and doubts over the reliability of the data, an accurate figure is difficult to ascertain. Nevertheless, Banister concluded that the
official data implied that around 15 million excess deaths incurred in China during 1958–61,
and that based on her modelling of Chinese demographics during the period and taking
account of assumed under-reporting during the famine years, the figure was around 30
million. The official statistic is 20 million deaths,
as given by Hu Yaobang. Yang Jisheng, a former Xinhua News Agency
reporter who had privileged access and connections available to no other scholars, estimates
a death toll of 36 million. Frank Dikötter estimates that there were
at least 45 million premature deaths attributable to the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962. Various other sources have put the figure
at between 20 and 46 million.===Split from Soviet Union===On the international front, the period was
dominated by the further isolation of China. The Sino-Soviet split resulted in Nikita Khrushchev’s
withdrawal of all Soviet technical experts and aid from the country. The split concerned the leadership of world
communism. The USSR had a network of Communist parties
it supported; China now created its own rival network to battle it out for local control
of the left in numerous countries. Lorenz M. Lüthi argues: The Sino-Soviet split was one of the key events
of the Cold War, equal in importance to the construction of the Berlin Wall, the Cuban
Missile Crisis, the Second Vietnam War, and Sino-American rapprochement. The split helped to determine the framework
of the Second Cold War in general, and influenced the course of the Second Vietnam War in particular. The split resulted from Nikita Khrushchev’s
more moderate Soviet leadership after the death of Stalin in March 1953. Only Albania openly sided with China, thereby
forming an alliance between the two countries which would last until after Mao’s death in
1976. Warned that the Soviets had nuclear weapons,
Mao minimized the threat. Becker says that “Mao believed that the bomb
was a ‘paper tiger’, declaring to Khrushchev that it would not matter if China lost 300
million people in a nuclear war: the other half of the population would survive to ensure
victory”.Stalin had established himself as the successor of “correct” Marxist thought
well before Mao controlled the Communist Party of China, and therefore Mao never challenged
the suitability of any Stalinist doctrine (at least while Stalin was alive). Upon the death of Stalin, Mao believed (perhaps
because of seniority) that the leadership of Marxist doctrine would fall to him. The resulting tension between Khrushchev (at
the head of a politically and militarily superior government), and Mao (believing he had a superior
understanding of Marxist ideology) eroded the previous patron-client relationship between
the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and the CPC. In China, the formerly favoured Soviets were
now denounced as “revisionists” and listed alongside “American imperialism” as movements
to oppose.Partly surrounded by hostile American military bases (in South Korea, Japan, and
Taiwan), China was now confronted with a new Soviet threat from the north and west. Both the internal crisis and the external
threat called for extraordinary statesmanship from Mao, but as China entered the new decade
the statesmen of the People’s Republic were in hostile confrontation with each other.===Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution
===During the early 1960s, Mao became concerned
with the nature of post-1959 China. He saw that the revolution and Great Leap
Forward had replaced the old ruling elite with a new one. He was concerned that those in power were
becoming estranged from the people they were to serve. Mao believed that a revolution of culture
would unseat and unsettle the “ruling class” and keep China in a state of “perpetual revolution”
that, theoretically, would serve the interests of the majority, rather than a tiny and privileged
elite. State Chairman Liu Shaoqi and General Secretary
Deng Xiaoping favoured the idea that Mao be removed from actual power as China’s head
of state and government but maintain his ceremonial and symbolic role as Chairman of the Communist
Party of China, with the party upholding all of his positive contributions to the revolution. They attempted to marginalise Mao by taking
control of economic policy and asserting themselves politically as well. Many claim that Mao responded to Liu and Deng’s
movements by launching the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966. Some scholars, such as Mobo Gao, claim the
case for this is overstated. Others, such as Frank Dikötter, hold that
Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to wreak revenge on those who had dared to challenge
him over the Great Leap Forward.Believing that certain liberal bourgeois elements of
society continued to threaten the socialist framework, groups of young people known as
the Red Guards struggled against authorities at all levels of society and even set up their
own tribunals. Chaos reigned in much of the nation, and millions
were persecuted. During the Cultural Revolution, nearly all
of the schools and universities in China were closed, and the young intellectuals living
in cities were ordered to the countryside to be “re-educated” by the peasants, where
they performed hard manual labour and other work. The Cultural Revolution led to the destruction
of much of China’s traditional cultural heritage and the imprisonment of a huge number of Chinese
citizens, as well as the creation of general economic and social chaos in the country. Millions of lives were ruined during this
period, as the Cultural Revolution pierced into every part of Chinese life, depicted
by such Chinese films as To Live, The Blue Kite and Farewell My Concubine. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands
of people, perhaps millions, perished in the violence of the Cultural Revolution.When Mao
was informed of such losses, particularly that people had been driven to suicide, he
is alleged to have commented: “People who try to commit suicide — don’t attempt to
save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it
is not as if we cannot do without a few people.” The authorities allowed the Red Guards to
abuse and kill opponents of the regime. Said Xie Fuzhi, national police chief: “Don’t
say it is wrong of them to beat up bad persons: if in anger they beat someone to death, then
so be it.” As a result, in August and September 1966,
there were a reported 1,772 people murdered by the Red Guards in Beijing alone.It was
during this period that Mao chose Lin Biao, who seemed to echo all of Mao’s ideas, to
become his successor. Lin was later officially named as Mao’s successor. By 1971, however, a divide between the two
men had become apparent. Official history in China states that Lin
was planning a military coup or an assassination attempt on Mao. Lin Biao died in a plane crash over the air
space of Mongolia, presumably as he fled China, probably anticipating his arrest. The CPC declared that Lin was planning to
depose Mao and posthumously expelled Lin from the party. At this time, Mao lost trust in many of the
top CPC figures. The highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence
defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa described his conversation with Nicolae Ceaușescu,
who told him about a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organised by the
KGB.Despite being considered a feminist figure by some and a supporter of women’s rights,
documents released by the US Department of State in 2008 show that Mao declared women
to be a “nonsense” in 1973, in conversation with Kissinger, joking that “China is a very
poor country. We don’t have much. What we have in excess is women… Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens.” When Mao offered 10 million women, Kissinger
replied by saying that Mao was “improving his offer”. Mao and Kissinger then agreed that their comments
on women be removed from public records, prompted by a Chinese official who feared that Mao’s
comments might incur public anger if released.====”Mango fever”====
When Mao first tasted mangoes in 1968 he was enthused, describing them as a “spiritual
time bomb”. News of his enthusiasm made it to the Pakistani
foreign office, and on August 4, 1968, Mao was presented with about 40 mangoes by the
Pakistani foreign minister, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, in an apparent diplomatic gesture. Mao had his aide send the box of mangoes to
his Mao Zedong Propaganda Team at Tsinghua University on August 5, the team stationed
there to quiet strife among Red Guard factions. On August 7, an article was published in the
People’s Daily saying: In the afternoon of the fifth, when the great
happy news of Chairman Mao giving mangoes to the Capital Worker and Peasant Mao Zedong
Thought Propaganda Team reached the Tsinghua University campus, people immediately gathered
around the gift given by the Great Leader Chairman Mao. They cried out enthusiastically and sang with
wild abandonment. Tears swelled up in their eyes, and they again
and again sincerely wished that our most beloved Great Leader lived then thousand years without
bounds … They all made phone calls to their own work units to spread this happy news;
and they also organised all kinds of celebratory activities all night long, and arrived at
[the national leadership compound] Zhongnanhai despite the rain to report the good news,
and to express their loyalty to the Great Leader Chairman Mao. Subsequent articles were also written by government
officials propagandizing the reception of the mangoes, and another poem in the People’s
Daily said: “Seeing that golden mango/Was as if seeing the great leader Chairman Mao
… Again and again touching that golden mango/the golden mango was so warm”. Few people at this time in China had ever
seen a mango before, and a mango was seen as “a fruit of extreme rarity, like Mushrooms
of Immortality”. One of the mangoes was sent to the Beijing
Textile Factory, whose revolutionary committee organised a rally in the mangoes’ honour. Workers read out quotations from Mao and celebrated
the gift. Altars were erected to prominently display
the fruit; when the mango peel began to rot after a few days, the fruit was peeled and
boiled in a pot of water. Workers then filed by and each was given a
spoonful of mango water. The revolutionary committee also made a wax
replica of the mango, and displayed this as a centrepiece in the factory. There followed several months of “mango fever”,
as the fruit became a focus of a “boundless loyalty” campaign for Chairman Mao. More replica mangoes were created and the
replicas were sent on tour around Beijing and elsewhere in China. Many revolutionary committees visited the
mangoes in Beijing from outlying provinces; approximately half a million people greeted
the replicas when they arrived in Chengdu. Badges and wall posters featuring the mangoes
and Mao were produced in the millions. The fruit was shared among all institutions
that had been a part of the propaganda team, and large processions were organised in support
of the zhengui lipin (“precious gift”), as the mangoes were known as. One dentist in a small village compared a
mango to a sweet potato; he was put on trial for malicious slander and executed.It has
been claimed that Mao used the mangoes to express support for the workers who would
go to whatever lengths necessary to end the factional fighting among students, and a “prime
example of Mao’s strategy of symbolic support”. Even up until early 1969, participants of
Mao Zedong Thought study classes in Beijing would return with mass-produced mango facsimiles
and still gain media attention in the provinces.====End of the Cultural Revolution====
In 1969, Mao declared the Cultural Revolution to be over, although various historians in
and outside of China mark the end of the Cultural Revolution – as a whole or in part – in
1976, following Mao’s death and the arrest of the Gang of Four. In the last years of his life, Mao was faced
with declining health due to either Parkinson’s disease or, according to his physician, amyotrophic
lateral sclerosis, as well as lung ailments due to smoking and heart trouble. Some also attributed Mao’s decline in health
to the betrayal of Lin Biao. Mao remained passive as various factions within
the Communist Party mobilised for the power struggle anticipated after his death. The Cultural Revolution is often looked at
in all scholarly circles as a greatly disruptive period for China. While one-tenth of Chinese people—an estimated
100 million—did suffer during the period, some scholars, such as Lee Feigon and Mobo
Gao, claim there were many great advances, and in some sectors the Chinese economy continued
to outperform the West. They hold that the Cultural Revolution period
laid the foundation for the spectacular growth that continues in China. During the Cultural Revolution, China detonated
its first H-Bomb (1967), launched the Dong Fang Hong satellite (January 30, 1970), commissioned
its first nuclear submarines and made various advances in science and technology. Healthcare was free, and living standards
in the countryside continued to improve. In comparison, the Great Leap probably did
cause a much larger loss of life with its flawed economic policies which encompassed
even the peasants.Estimates of the death toll during the Cultural Revolution, including
civilians and Red Guards, vary greatly. An estimate of around 400,000 deaths is a
widely accepted minimum figure, according to Maurice Meisner. MacFarquhar and Schoenhals assert that in
rural China alone some 36 million people were persecuted, of whom between 750,000 and 1.5
million were killed, with roughly the same number permanently injured. In Mao: The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and
Jon Halliday claim that as many as 3 million people died in the violence of the Cultural
Revolution.Historian Daniel Leese notes that in the 1950s Mao’s personality was hardening: The impression of Mao’s personality that emerges
from the literature is disturbing. It reveals a certain temporal development
from a down-to-earth leader, who was amicable when uncontested and occasionally reflected
on the limits of his power, to an increasingly ruthless and self-indulgent dictator. Mao’s preparedness to accept criticism decreased
continuously.==State visits==
During his leadership, Mao traveled outside China on only two occasions, both state visits
to the Soviet Union. When Mao stepped down as head of state on
April 27, 1959, further diplomatic state visits and travels abroad were undertaken by president
Liu Shaoqi rather than Mao personally.==Death and aftermath==Smoking may have played an important role
in his declining health, for Mao was a heavy smoker during most of his adult life. It became a state secret that he suffered
from multiple lung and heart ailments during his later years. There are unconfirmed reports that he possibly
had Parkinson’s disease in addition to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s
disease.Mao’s last public appearance—and the last known photograph of him alive—was
on May 27, 1976, when he met the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
during the latter’s one-day visit to Beijing. Mao suffered two major heart attacks in 1976,
one in March and another in July, before a third struck on September 5, rendering him
an invalid. Mao Zedong died nearly four days later just
after midnight, at 00:10, on September 9, 1976, at age 82. The Communist Party of China delayed the announcement
of his death until 16:00 later that day, when a radio message broadcast across the nation
announced the news of Mao’s passing while appealing for party unity.Mao’s embalmed,
CPC-flag-draped body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People for one week. During this period, one million people (none
of them foreign diplomats, and the majority crying openly or otherwise displaying some
kind of sadness) filed past Mao to pay their final respects. Chairman Mao’s official portrait was hung
on the wall, with a banner reading: “Carry on the cause left by Chairman Mao and carry
on the cause of proletarian revolution to the end”, until September 17. On September 17, Chairman Mao’s body was taken
in a minibus from the Great Hall of the people to Maojiawan to the 305 Hospital that Liu
Zhisui directed, and Mao’s internal organs were preserved in formaldehyde.On September
18, a somber cacophony of guns, sirens, whistles and horns all across China was spontaneously
blown in observance of a three-minute silence, which everybody except those performing essential
tasks was ordered to observe. After that, a band in Tiananmen Square, packed
with and surrounded by millions of people, played “The Internationale”. The final service on that day was concluded
by Hua Guofeng’s 20-minute-long eulogy atop Tiananmen Gate. Mao’s body was later permanently interred
in a mausoleum in Beijing.==Legacy==Mao remains a controversial figure and there
is little agreement over his legacy both in China and abroad. Supporters generally credit and praise him
for having unified China and for ending the previous decades of civil war. He is also credited for having improved the
status of women in China and for improving literacy and education. His policies caused the deaths of tens of
millions of people in China during his 27-year reign, more than any other 20th century leader;
the number of people who died under his regime range from 40 million to as many as 70 million. However, supporters point out that in spite
of this, life expectancy improved during his reign. His supporters claim that he rapidly industrialised
China; however, others have claimed that his policies such as the “Great Leap Forward”
and the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, were impediments to industrialisation and
modernisation. His supporters claim that his policies laid
the groundwork for China’s later rise to become an economic superpower, while others claim
that his policies delayed economic development and that China’s economy underwent its rapid
growth only after Mao’s policies had been widely abandoned. Mao’s revolutionary tactics continue to be
used by insurgents, and his political ideology continues to be embraced by many Communist
organizations around the world. In mainland China, Mao is still revered by
many members and supporters of the Communist Party and respected by the majority of the
general population as the “Founding Father of modern China”, credited for giving “the
Chinese people dignity and self-respect.” Mobo Gao in his 2008 book The Battle for China’s
Past: Mao and the Cultural Revolution, credits Mao for raising the average life expectancy
from 35 in 1949 to 63 by 1975, bringing “unity and stability to a country that had been plagued
by civil wars and foreign invasions”, and laying the foundation for China to “become
the equal of the great global powers”. Gao also lauds Mao for carrying out massive
land reform, promoting the status of women, improving popular literacy, and positively
“transform(ing) Chinese society beyond recognition.” Scholars outside of China also credit Mao
for boosting literacy (only 20% of the population could read in 1949, compared to 65.5% thirty
years later), doubling life expectancy, a near doubling of the population, and developing
China’s industry and infrastructure, paving the way for its position as a world power.However,
Mao has many Chinese critics, both those who live inside and outside China. Opposition to Mao is subject to restriction
and censorship in mainland China, but is especially strong elsewhere, where he is often reviled
as a brutish ideologue. In the West, his name is generally associated
with tyranny and his economic theories are widely discredited—though to some political
activists he remains a symbol against capitalism, imperialism and western influence. Even in China, key pillars of his economic
theory have been largely dismantled by market reformers like Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang,
who succeeded him as leaders of the Communist Party. Though the Chinese Communist Party, which
Mao led to power, has rejected in practice the economic fundamentals of much of Mao’s
ideology, it retains for itself many of the powers established under Mao’s reign: it controls
the Chinese army, police, courts and media and does not permit multi-party elections
at the national or local level, except in Hong Kong. Thus it is difficult to gauge the true extent
of support for the Chinese Communist Party and Mao’s legacy within mainland China. For its part, the Chinese government continues
to officially regard Mao as a national hero. On December 25, 2008, China opened the Mao
Zedong Square to visitors in his home town of central Hunan Province to mark the 115th
anniversary of his birth.There continue to be disagreements on Mao’s legacy. Former Party official Su Shachi, has opined
that “he was a great historical criminal, but he was also a great force for good.” In a similar vein, journalist Liu Binyan has
described Mao as “both monster and a genius.” Some historians argue that Mao Zedong was
“one of the great tyrants of the twentieth century”, and a dictator comparable to Adolf
Hitler and Joseph Stalin, with a death toll surpassing both. In The Black Book of Communism, Jean Louis
Margolin writes that “Mao Zedong was so powerful that he was often known as the Red Emperor
… the violence he erected into a whole system far exceeds any national tradition of violence
that we might find in China.” Mao was frequently likened to China’s First
Emperor Qin Shi Huang, notorious for burying alive hundreds of scholars, and personally
enjoyed the comparison. During a speech to party cadre in 1958, Mao
said he had far outdone Qin Shi Huang in his policy against intellectuals: “What did he
amount to? He only buried alive 460 scholars, while we
buried 46,000. In our suppression of the counter-revolutionaries,
did we not kill some counter-revolutionary intellectuals? I once debated with the democratic people:
You accuse us of acting like Ch’in-shih-huang, but you are wrong; we surpass him 100 times.” As a result of such tactics, critics have
pointed out that: The People’s Republic of China under Mao exhibited
the oppressive tendencies that were discernible in all the major absolutist regimes of the
twentieth century. There are obvious parallels between Mao’s
China, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Each of these regimes witnessed deliberately
ordered mass ‘cleansing’ and extermination. Others, such as Philip Short, reject such
comparisons in Mao: A Life, arguing that whereas the deaths caused by Nazi Germany and Soviet
Russia were largely systematic and deliberate, the overwhelming majority of the deaths under
Mao were unintended consequences of famine. Short noted that landlord class were not exterminated
as a people due to Mao’s belief in redemption through thought reform. He instead compared Mao with 19th-century
Chinese reformers who challenged China’s traditional beliefs in the era of China’s clashes with
Western colonial powers. Short argues, “Mao’s tragedy and his grandeur
were that he remained to the end in thrall to his own revolutionary dreams … He freed
China from the straitjacket of its Confucian past, but the bright Red future he promised
turned out to be a sterile purgatory. Mao’s English interpreter Sidney Rittenberg
wrote in his memoir The Man Who Stayed Behind that whilst Mao “was a great leader in history”,
he was also “a great criminal because, not that he wanted to, not that he intended to,
but in fact, his wild fantasies led to the deaths of tens of millions of people.” Li Rui, Mao’s personal secretary, goes further
and claims he was dismissive of the suffering and death caused by his policies: “Mao’s way
of thinking and governing was terrifying. He put no value on human life. The deaths of others meant nothing to him.”In
their 832-page biography, Mao: The Unknown Story, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday take a
very critical view of Mao’s life and influence. For example, they note that Mao was well aware
that his policies would be responsible for the deaths of millions; While discussing labour-intensive
projects such as waterworks and making steel, Mao said to his inner circle in November 1958:
“Working like this, with all these projects, half of China may well have to die. If not half, one-third, or one-tenth—50
million—die.”Thomas Bernstein of Columbia University argues that this quotation is taken
out of context, claiming: The Chinese original, however, is not quite
as shocking. In the speech, Mao talks about massive earthmoving
irrigation projects and numerous big industrial ones, all requiring huge numbers of people. If the projects, he said, are all undertaken
simultaneously “half of China’s population unquestionably will die; and if it’s not half,
it’ll be a third or ten percent, a death toll of 50 million people.” Mao then pointed to the example of Guangxi
provincial Party secretary, Chén Mànyuǎn (陳漫遠) who had been dismissed in 1957
for failing to prevent famine in the previous year, adding: “If with a death toll of 50
million you didn’t lose your jobs, I at least should lose mine; whether I should lose my
head would also be in question. Anhui wants to do so much, which is quite
all right, but make it a principle to have no deaths.” Jasper Becker notes, “archive material gathered
by Dikötter … confirms that far from being ignorant or misled about the famine, the Chinese
leadership were kept informed about it all the time. And he exposes the extent of the violence
used against the peasants”: Mass killings are not usually associated with
Mao and the Great Leap Forward, and China continues to benefit from a more favourable
comparison with Cambodia or the Soviet Union. But as fresh and abundant archival evidence
shows, coercion, terror and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap, and
between 1958 to 1962, by a rough approximation, some 6 to 8 per cent of those who died were
tortured to death or summarily killed—amounting to at least 3 million victims. Dikötter argues that CPC leaders “glorified
violence and were inured to massive loss of life. And all of them shared an ideology in which
the end justified the means. In 1962, having lost millions of people in
his province, Li Jingquan compared the Great Leap Forward to the Long March in which only
one in ten had made it to the end: ‘We are not weak, we are stronger, we have kept the
backbone.'”Regarding the large-scale irrigation projects, Dikötter stresses that, in spite
of Mao being in a good position to see the human cost, they continued unabated for several
years, and ultimately claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of exhausted villagers. He also notes that “In a chilling precursor
of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge, villagers in Qingshui and Gansu called these projects
the ‘killing fields’.” The United States placed a trade embargo on
the People’s Republic as a result of its involvement in the Korean War, lasting until Richard Nixon
decided that developing relations with the PRC would be useful in dealing with the Soviet
Union. The television series Biography stated: “[Mao]
turned China from a feudal backwater into one of the most powerful countries in the
World … The Chinese system he overthrew was backward and corrupt; few would argue
the fact that he dragged China into the 20th century. But at a cost in human lives that is staggering.”In
the book China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know published in 2010, Professor
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom of the University of California, Irvine compares China’s relationship
to Mao Zedong to Americans’ remembrance of Andrew Jackson: both countries regard the
leaders in a positive light, despite their respective roles in devastating policies. Jackson forcibly moved Native Americans, resulting
in thousands of deaths, while Mao was at the helm during the violent years of the Cultural
Revolution and the Great Leap Forward: Though admittedly far from perfect, the comparison
is based on the fact that Jackson is remembered both as someone who played a significant role
in the development of a political organization (the Democratic Party) that still has many
partisans, and as someone responsible for brutal policies toward Native Americans that
are now referred to as genocidal. Both men are thought of as having done terrible
things yet this does not necessarily prevent them from being used as positive symbols. And Jackson still appears on $20 bills, even
though Americans tend to view as heinous the institution of slavery (of which he was a
passionate defender) and the early 19th-century military campaigns against Native Americans
(in which he took part). At times Jackson, for all his flaws, is invoked
as representing an egalitarian strain within the American democratic tradition, a self-made
man of the people who rose to power via straight talk and was not allied with moneyed interests. Mao stands for something roughly similar. Mao’s military writings continue to have a
large amount of influence both among those who seek to create an insurgency and those
who seek to crush one, especially in manners of guerrilla warfare, at which Mao is popularly
regarded as a genius. As an example, the Communist Party of Nepal
(Maoist) followed Mao’s examples of guerrilla warfare to considerable political and military
success even in the 21st century. Mao’s major contribution to the military science
is his theory of People’s War, with not only guerrilla warfare but more importantly, Mobile
Warfare methodologies. Mao had successfully applied Mobile Warfare
in the Korean War, and was able to encircle, push back and then halt the UN forces in Korea,
despite the clear superiority of UN firepower. Mao also gave the impression that he might
even welcome a nuclear war. Let us imagine how many people would die if
war breaks out. There are 2.7 billion people in the world,
and a third could be lost. If it is a little higher, it could be half
… I say that if the worst came to the worst and one-half dies, there will still be one-half
left, but imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist. After a few years there would be 2.7 billion
people again” But historians dispute the sincerity of Mao’s
words. Robert Service says that Mao “was deadly serious,”
while Frank Dikötter claims that “He was bluffing … the sabre-rattling was to show
that he, not Khrushchev, was the more determined revolutionary.”Mao’s poems and writings are
frequently cited by both Chinese and non-Chinese. The official Chinese translation of President
Barack Obama’s inauguration speech used a famous line from one of Mao’s poems. Republican senator John McCain misattributed
a campaign quote to Mao several times during his 2008 presidential election bid, saying
“Remember the words of Chairman Mao: ‘It’s always darkest before it’s totally black.'” The ideology of Maoism has influenced many
Communists, mainly in the Third World, including revolutionary movements such as Cambodia’s
Khmer Rouge, Peru’s Shining Path, and the Nepalese revolutionary movement. Under the influence of Mao’s agrarian socialism
and Cultural Revolution, Cambodia’s Pol Pot conceived of his disastrous Year Zero policies
which purged the nation of its teachers, artists and intellectuals and emptied its cities,
resulting in the Cambodian Genocide.The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA also claims Marxism–Leninism-Maoism
as its ideology, as do other Communist Parties around the world which are part of the Revolutionary
Internationalist Movement. China itself has moved sharply away from Maoism
since Mao’s death, and most people outside of China who describe themselves as Maoist
regard the Deng Xiaoping reforms to be a betrayal of Maoism, in line with Mao’s view of “Capitalist
roaders” within the Communist Party.As the Chinese government instituted free market
economic reforms starting in the late 1970s and as later Chinese leaders took power, less
recognition was given to the status of Mao. This accompanied a decline in state recognition
of Mao in later years in contrast to previous years when the state organised numerous events
and seminars commemorating Mao’s 100th birthday. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has never
officially repudiated the tactics of Mao. Deng Xiaoping, who was opposed to the Great
Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, has to a certain extent rejected Mao’s legacy,
famously saying that Mao was “70% right and 30% wrong”. In the mid-1990s, Mao Zedong’s picture began
to appear on all new renminbi currency from the People’s Republic of China. This was officially instituted as an anti-counterfeiting
measure as Mao’s face is widely recognised in contrast to the generic figures that appear
in older currency. On March 13, 2006, a story in the People’s
Daily reported that a proposal had been made to print the portraits of Sun Yat-sen and
Deng Xiaoping.In 2006, the government in Shanghai issued a new set of high school history textbooks
which omit Mao, with the exception of a single mention in a section on etiquette. Students in Shanghai now only learn about
Mao in junior high school.===Public image===
Mao gave contradicting statements on the subject of personality cults. In 1955, as a response to the Khrushchev Report
that criticised Joseph Stalin, Mao stated that personality cults are “poisonous ideological
survivals of the old society”, and reaffirmed China’s commitment to collective leadership. But at the 1958 Party congress in Chengdu,
Mao expressed support for the personality cults of people whom he labelled as genuinely
worthy figures; not those that expressed “blind worship”.In 1962, Mao proposed the Socialist
Education Movement (SEM) in an attempt to educate the peasants to resist the “temptations”
of feudalism and the sprouts of capitalism that he saw re-emerging in the countryside
from Liu’s economic reforms. Large quantities of politicised art were produced
and circulated — with Mao at the centre. Numerous posters, badges and musical compositions
referenced Mao in the phrase “Chairman Mao is the red sun in our hearts” (毛主席是我們心中的紅太陽;
Máo Zhǔxí Shì Wǒmen Xīnzhōng De Hóng Tàiyáng) and a “Savior of the people” (人民的大救星;
Rénmín De Dà Jiùxīng).In October 1966, Mao’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung,
which was known as the Little Red Book was published. Party members were encouraged to carry a copy
with them and possession was almost mandatory as a criterion for membership. Over the years, Mao’s image became displayed
almost everywhere, present in homes, offices and shops. His quotations were typographically emphasised
by putting them in boldface or red type in even the most obscure writings. Music from the period emphasised Mao’s stature,
as did children’s rhymes. The phrase “Long Live Chairman Mao for ten
thousand years” was commonly heard during the era. Mao also has a presence in China and around
the world in popular culture, where his face adorns everything from T-shirts to coffee
cups. Mao’s granddaughter, Kong Dongmei, defended
the phenomenon, stating that “it shows his influence, that he exists in people’s consciousness
and has influenced several generations of Chinese people’s way of life. Just like Che Guevara’s image, his has become
a symbol of revolutionary culture.” Since 1950, over 40 million people have visited
Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan, Hunan.==Genealogy=====Ancestors===
His ancestors were: Máo Yíchāng (毛貽昌, born Xiangtan October
15, 1870, died Shaoshan January 23, 1920), father, courtesy name Máo Shùnshēng (毛順生)
or also known as Mao Jen-sheng Wén Qīmèi (文七妹, born Xiangxiang 1867,
died October 5, 1919), mother. She was illiterate and a devout Buddhist. She was a descendant of Wen Tianxiang. Máo Ēnpǔ (毛恩普, born May 22, 1846,
died November 23, 1904), paternal grandfather née Luó (羅氏), paternal grandmother (given
name not recorded) Máo Zǔrén (毛祖人), paternal great-grandfather===Wives===Mao Zedong had four wives who gave birth to
a total of 10 children. They were: Luo Yixiu (October 20, 1889 – 1910) of Shaoshan:
married 1907 to 1910 Yang Kaihui (1901–1930) of Changsha: married
1921 to 1927, executed by the KMT in 1930; mother to Mao Anying, Mao Anqing, and Mao
Anlong He Zizhen (1910–1984) of Jiangxi: married
May 1928 to 1939; mother to Mao Anhong, Li Min, and four other children
Jiang Qing (1914–1991), married 1939 until Mao’s death; mother to Li Na===Siblings===
He had several siblings: Mao Zemin (1895–1943), younger brother,
executed by a warlord Mao Zetan (1905–1935), younger brother,
executed by the KMT Mao Zejian (1905–1929), adopted sister,
executed by the KMTMao Zedong’s parents altogether had five sons and two daughters. Two of the sons and both daughters died young,
leaving the three brothers Mao Zedong, Mao Zemin, and Mao Zetan. Like all three of Mao Zedong’s wives, Mao
Zemin and Mao Zetan were communists. Like Yang Kaihui, both Zemin and Zetan were
killed in warfare during Mao Zedong’s lifetime.Note that the character zé (澤) appears in all
of the siblings’ given names. This is a common Chinese naming convention. From the next generation, Zemin’s son, Mao
Yuanxin, was raised by Mao Zedong’s family. He became Mao Zedong’s liaison with the Politburo
in 1975. In Li Zhisui’s The Private Life of Chairman
Mao, Mao Yuanxin played a role in the final power-struggles.===Children===Mao Zedong had a total of ten children, including: Mao Anying (1922–1950): son to Yang, married
to Liú Sīqí (劉思齊), killed in action during the Korean War
Mao Anqing (1923–2007): son to Yang, married to Shao Hua, son Mao Xinyu, grandson Mao Dongdong
Mao Anlong (1927–1931): son to Yang, died during the Chinese Civil War
Mao Anhong: son to He, left to Mao’s younger brother Zetan and then to one of Zetan’s guards
when he went off to war, was never heard of again
Li Min (b. 1936): daughter to He, married to Kǒng Lìnghuá (孔令華), son Kǒng
Jìníng (孔繼寧), daughter Kǒng Dōngméi (孔冬梅)
Li Na (b. 1940): daughter to Jiang (whose birth surname was Lǐ, a name also used by
Mao while evading the KMT), married to Wáng Jǐngqīng (王景清), son Wáng Xiàozhī
(王效芝)Mao’s first and second daughters were left to local villagers because it was
too dangerous to raise them while fighting the Kuomintang and later the Japanese. Their youngest daughter (born in early 1938
in Moscow after Mao separated) and one other child (born 1933) died in infancy. Two English researchers who retraced the entire
Long March route in 2002–2003 located a woman whom they believe might well be one
of the missing children abandoned by Mao to peasants in 1935. Ed Jocelyn and Andrew McEwen hope a member
of the Mao family will respond to requests for a DNA test.Through his ten children, Mao
became grandfather to twelve grandchildren, many of whom he never knew. He has many great-grandchildren alive today. One of his granddaughters is businesswoman
Kong Dongmei, one of the richest people in China. His grandson Mao Xinyu is a general in the
Chinese army. Both he and Kong have written books about
their grandfather.==Personal life==Mao’s private life was very secretive at the
time of his rule. However, after Mao’s death, Li Zhisui, his
personal physician, published The Private Life of Chairman Mao, a memoir which mentions
some aspects of Mao’s private life, such as chain-smoking cigarettes, addiction to powerful
sleeping pills and large number of sexual partners. Some scholars and some other people who also
personally knew and worked with Mao, however, have disputed the accuracy of these characterisations.Having
grown up in Hunan, Mao spoke Mandarin with a marked Hunanese accent.Ross Terrill noted
Mao was a “son of the soil … rural and unsophisticated” in origins, while Clare Hollingworth asserted
he was proud of his “peasant ways and manners”, having a strong Hunanese accent and providing
“earthy” comments on sexual matters. Lee Feigon noted that Mao’s “earthiness” meant
that he remained connected to “everyday Chinese life.”Sinologist Stuart Schram emphasised
Mao’s ruthlessness, but also noted that he showed no sign of taking pleasure in torture
or killing in the revolutionary cause. Lee Feigon considered Mao “draconian and authoritarian”
when threatened, but opined that he was not the “kind of villain that his mentor Stalin
was”. Alexander Pantsov and Steven I. Levine wrote
that Mao was a “man of complex moods”, who “tried his best to bring about prosperity
and gain international respect” for China, being “neither a saint nor a demon.” They noted that in early life, he strived
to be “a strong, wilful, and purposeful hero, not bound by any moral chains”, and that he
“passionately desired fame and power”.Mao had learned some English language, particularly
through Zhang Hanzhi, who was his English teacher, interpreter and diplomat who later
married Qiao Guanhua, Foreign Minister of China and the head of China’s UN delegation. However, his spoken English was limited to
a few single words, phrases, and some short sentences. He first chose to systematically learn English
in the 1950s, which was very unusual as the main foreign language first taught in Chinese
schools at that time was Russian.==Writings and calligraphy==Mao was a prolific writer of political and
philosophical literature. He is the attributed author of Quotations
from Chairman Mao Tse-tung, known in the West as the “Little Red Book” and in Cultural Revolution
China as the “Red Treasure Book” (紅寶書): first published in January 1964, this is a
collection of short extracts from his many speeches and articles, edited by Lin Biao
and ordered topically. Mao wrote several other philosophical treatises,
both before and after he assumed power. These include: On Guerrilla Warfare (《游擊戰》); 1937
On Practice (《實踐論》); 1937 On Contradiction (《矛盾論》); 1937
On Protracted War (《論持久戰》); 1938 In Memory of Norman Bethune (《紀念白求恩》);
1939 On New Democracy (《新民主主義論》);
1940 Talks at the Yan’an Forum on Literature and
Art (《在延安文藝座談會上的講話》); 1942
Serve the People (《為人民服務》); 1944
The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains (《愚公移山》); 1945
On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions Among the People (《正確處理人民內部矛盾問題》);
1957Mao was also a skilled Chinese calligrapher with a highly personal style. In China, Mao was considered a master calligrapher
during his lifetime. His calligraphy can be seen today throughout
mainland China. His work gave rise to a new form of Chinese
calligraphy called “Mao-style” or Maoti, which has gained increasing popularity since his
death. There currently exist various competitions
specialising in Mao-style calligraphy.===Literary works===As did most Chinese intellectuals of his generation,
Mao’s education began with Chinese classical literature. Mao told Edgar Snow in 1936 that he had started
the study of the Confucian Analects and the Four Books at a village school when he was
eight, but that the books he most enjoyed reading were Water Margin, Journey to the
West, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Dream of the Red Chamber. Mao published poems in classical forms starting
in his youth and his abilities as a poet contributed to his image in China after he came to power
in 1949. His style was influenced by the great Tang
dynasty poets Li Bai and Li He.Some of his most well-known poems are Changsha (1925),
The Double Ninth (1929.10), Loushan Pass (1935), The Long March (1935), Snow (1936), The PLA
Captures Nanjing (1949), Reply to Li Shuyi (1957.05.11) and Ode to the Plum Blossom (1961.12).==Portrayal in film and television==
Mao has been portrayed in film and television numerous times. Some notable actors include: Han Shi, the
first actor ever to have portrayed Mao, in a 1978 drama Dielianhua and later again in
a 1980 film Cross the Dadu River; Gu Yue, who had portrayed Mao 84 times on screen throughout
his 27-year career and had won the Best Actor title at the Hundred Flowers Awards in 1990
and 1993; Liu Ye, who played a young Mao in The Founding of a Party (2011); Tang Guoqiang,
who has frequently portrayed Mao in more recent times, in the films The Long March (1996)
and The Founding of a Republic (2009), and the television series Huang Yanpei (2010),
among others. Mao is a principal character in American composer
John Adams’ opera Nixon in China (1987). The Beatles’ song “Revolution” refers to Mao:
“…but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao you ain’t going to make it with anyone
anyhow…”; John Lennon expressed regret over including these lines in the song in 1972.==See also==Chairman Mao badge
Chinese tunic suit Great Leap Forward
Mao’s Great Famine Mao Tse-tung: Ruler of Red China==
Notes====References====Further reading====
External links=====General===
Mao Zedong (Chinese leader) at Encyclopædia Britannica
毛泽东 (无产阶级革命家) on Baidu Asia Source biography Extensive resources about Mao Zedong
CNN profile Collected Works of Mao at the Maoist Internationalist
Movement Collected Works of Mao Tse-tung (1917–1949)
Joint Publications Research Service Mao quotations
Mao Zedong Reference Archive at Oxford Companion to World Politics: Mao Zedong
Spartacus Educational biography Bio of Mao at the official Communist Party
of China web site Newspaper clippings about Mao Zedong in the
20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics (ZBW)===Commentary===
Discusses the life, military influence and writings of Chairman Mao ZeDong. What Maoism Has Contributed by Samir Amin
(September 21, 2006) China must confront dark past, says Mao confidant
Mao was cruel – but also laid the ground for today’s China
Comrade Mao – 44 Chinese posters of the 1950s – 70s
On the Role of Mao Zedong by William Hinton. Monthly Review Foundation 2004 Volume 56,
Issue 04 (September) Propaganda paintings showing Mao as the great
leader of China Remembering Mao’s Victims
Mao’s Great Leap to Famine Finding the Facts About Mao’s Victims
Remembering China’s Great Helmsman Did Mao Really Kill Millions in the Great
Leap Forward? Mao Tse Tung: China’s Peasant Emperor

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