Mao Zedong

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Mao Zedong
Mao Tse-tung - panoramio.jpg
Official 1967 portrait of the chariman. This portrait also hangs up at the Tiananmen Square in the center of Beijing.
2nd Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party
In office
March 1943 – 9 September 1976
Preceded byChen Dixiu
Succeeded byHua Guofeng
Chairman of the People's Republic of China
In office
Succeeded byLiu Shaoqi
Mao Zedong declares the beginning of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Photograph by Hou Bo

Mao Zedong (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976) was a Chinese Communist leader. He was Chairman of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. He led the Communist Party of China to victory in a civil war against the Nationalist regime.

Name[change | change source]

Mao Zedong is the version of Mao's name used by most people. In an earlier romanization, it was spelled "Mng".[1] "Mao" is his family name - in China, family names are placed first. Mao is also called Chairman Mao, because he was the Chinese Communist Leader.

Beginning[change | change source]

Mao Zedong was born on 26 December 1893 in the Hunan province of China.[1] He grew up in a farming family, and became a Communist while working at a library. Throughout the 1920s, his power increased in the Communist Party of China, and by 1933, he was its leader. In 1923 the Communists and the Kuomintang joined together with the help of the Soviet Union. Later in the 1920s, the groups fought each other. This fight was called the Chinese Civil War. Mao said that Chiang Kai-shek was corrupt and unfit to rule China. Mao also wanted to make China follow communism, a way of thinking that opposed private property and supported common ownership.

Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang, the Nationalists, had more army forces in 1935. They beat Mao's Communist Party and made them move away. The Communists went to a fort that they owned, in a distant part of China called Yenan. This move was called the Long March. Mao Zedong escaped from the Nationalists with other Communist Party members. By this time, in 1935, the Chinese Civil War had caused 500,000 deaths.

When the Imperial Japanese Army invaded China in 1937, Mao and Chiang stopped fighting. The United States defeated Japan in 1945 and made the Japanese Army leave China. The Chinese Civil War had been stopped during Second Sino-Japanese War but after the war it became very violent. Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists had supporters in the cities and among the middle class. Mao and the Communists had many supporters in the farms and the countryside. In those days, there were more farmers than city people in China, so Mao had more supporters than Chiang, and others supported Mao because they thought Chiang's government was bad.

By 1949, Mao had chased the Nationalists to the island of Taiwan, and told the people that China would be Communist, with him as leader. Mao named the new China the People's Republic of China.

Ruler[change | change source]

In the 1950s, Mao Zedong had many plans for how China could move forward in technology very quickly and catch up with countries like the United Kingdom and United States. Mao was responsible for the Five Year Plan. The Second Five Year Plan included the Great Leap Forward, which was a disaster for the Chinese people. Poor farming practices led to significant crop failure, and cities did not make many of their daily items like clothes and machines. The famine that came as a result killed millions of people by starvation.

About the same time Mao became the leader in China, Nikita Khrushchev became the leader in the Soviet Union. Before this, Joseph Stalin was the leader in the Soviet Union, Mao liked Stalin and respected the way he led, and China and Russia became allies with each other. Khrushchev thought Stalin was a criminal dictator, and led the country very differently. Mao and Krushchev did not like each other, so the Soviet Union was no longer allies with China. China now had only a few allies like Albania, North Korea, Democratic Kampuchea, and Pakistan. This change of friends was called the Sino-Soviet split. "Sino" is another way to say "Chinese".

During the 1970s, Mao became more friendly with the United States. In 1972, American president Richard Nixon visited the People's Republic of China and met Mao. Mao died in 1976, and the "Cultural Revolution" ended that year. Mao's supporters were jailed, and Deng Xiaoping, who followed Mao, changed Mao's policies so that Chinese people could have more private ownership.

Liu Shaoqi[change | change source]

Mao Zedong was afraid that Liu Shaoqi would overthrow him, and take over the CCP. As in the result, Mao blamed Liu Shaoqi for being a capitalist, and placed him in jail. Liu Shaoqi died in prison from brutal treatments, hunger, and the terrible conditions.

Mao's death[change | change source]

Mao had been in poorer health for several years and had declined visibly for at least six months prior to his death. There are unconfirmed reports that he possibly had ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. Mao's last public appearance was on 27 May 1976,[2] where he met the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto during the latter's one-day visit to Beijing.

At around 5:00 pm on 2 September 1976, Mao suffered a heart attack, far more severe than his previous two and affecting a much larger area of his heart. Three days later, on 5 September, Mao's condition was still critical. On the afternoon of 7 September, Mao's condition completely deteriorated. Mao's organs failed quickly and he fell into a coma shortly before noon where he was put on life support machines. He was taken off life support over 12 hours later, quarter to midnight and was pronounced dead at 12:08 am on 9 September 1976. This was an easy day to remember, being the ninth day of the ninth month of the calender.

His body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People. There was a three-minute silence observed during this service. His body was later placed into the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, even though he had wished to be cremated and had been one of the first high-ranking officials to sign the "Proposal that all Central Leaders be Cremated after Death" in November 1956.[3]

Legacy[change | change source]

Some Chinese mainlanders still believe Mao Zedong was a great leader, but they also knew that he did many unwise and bad things. According to Deng Xiaoping, Mao was "seven parts right and three parts wrong" and his "contributions are primary and his mistakes secondary." Some people think Mao Zedong made China lose its important ally, or friend, the Soviet Union, in the Sino-Soviet Split. The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were two of the things that Mao did that many people disliked. Most historians, people who study history, think that tens of millions of people died because of Mao's bad ideas and neglect. That is the biggest number of people to ever die without a war. Some people disliked Mao because he did not support family planning, and this caused too many babies to be born, making too rapid population growth in too small places. Leaders of China after Mao had to make a new rule called one child policy.

Mao Zedong also made several changes to the Chinese language, such as switching from the Wade Giles system of Romanization to Pinyin. For this reason, Nanking is now called Nanjing on modern maps. Taiwan still uses Wade Giles, so its capital is called Taipei instead of the pinyin Taibei. He also simplified the Chinese characters, in theory it would make them easier to read and write so that more people would be literate.

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Mao Zedong". Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved 13 July 2016.

Sources and other websites[change | change source]

  1. [1] Washington State University.