Leader of the Chinese Revolution


Few people in history deserve sole credit for changing the fate of an entire nation. One of them is Mao Tse-tung, the man who rose from the peasantry to become the pre-eminent revolutionary theorist, political leader and statesman of Communist China.
Mao’s influence endured more than 40 years from the Long March of the 1930s, through the Red Army’s victory in 1949, until his death in 1976 at age 83. He remained chairman of the party to the end.
Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founding father of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which he ruled as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from the establishment of the PRC in 1949 until his death in 1976.
Mao was a Chinese communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China. After training as a teacher, he traveled to Beijing where he worked in the University Library. It was during this time that he began to read Marxist literature. In 1921, he became a founder member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and set up a branch in Hunan.
The Communists were victorious, and on 1 October 1949 Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).Mao and other Communist leaders set out to reshape Chinese society. Industry came under state ownership and China’s farmers began to be organized into collectives.
In 1958, in an attempt to introduce a more ‘Chinese’ form of communism, Mao launched the ‘Great Leap Forward’. This aimed at mass mobilization of labour to improve agricultural and industrial production.
In an attempt to re-assert his authority, Mao launched the ‘Cultural Revolution’ in 1966, aiming to purge the country of ‘impure’ elements and revive the revolutionary spirit.
Mao appeared victorious, but his health was deteriorating. His later years saw attempts to build bridges with the United States, Japan and Europe. In 1972, US President Richard Nixon visited China and met Mao.
Mao was the son of a prosperous peasant in Shaoshan, Hunan. He supported Chinese nationalism and had an 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 as a librarian and became a founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927.
In 1921 Mao married Yang Kaihui (Yang K’ai-hui), the daughter of one of his mentors at Beijing University. She was later executed by the Kuomintang in 1930. However, in 1928 Mao had begun to live with a young girl of eighteen, He Zizhen (Ho Tsu-chen). Over the next nine years they had five children. In 1937 he divorced. He married Jiang Qing (Chiang Ch’ing). Nineteen twenty-seven was a cataclysmic year for everyone involved in the Chinese Revolution.
The May Fourth Movement was a cultural and intellectual awakening that started as a student movement and spread to a larger group of Chinese, bringing significant social change in urban China. He formally assumed the post of Party Chairman in 1945.
His reliance on the peasantry (a major departure from prevailing Soviet doctrine) and dependence on guerrilla warfare in the revolution were essential to the Communist triumph in China. Following the establishment of the PRC (People’s Republic of China) in 1949, Mao was responsible for many of the political initiatives that transformed the face of China. These included land reform, the collectivization of agriculture, and the spread of medical services.
Mao Zedong claimed two achievements: leading the Communist revolution to victory and starting the Cultural Revolution. By pinpointing these episodes, he had underlined the lifelong contradiction in his attitudes toward revolution and state power.
In his early 20s, roaming the countryside of Hunan Province with a friend, Mao convinced his companion that he saw himself in the tradition of the peasant founders of Chinese dynasties, in particular Liu Bang, founder of the first great Chinese Empire, the Han.
However self-confident Mao’s early dreams of glory, his supreme leadership was far from preordained. On the eve of his coming out as a Marxist at age 27, he was an unsophisticated provincial nationalist.
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. China’s civil war resumed after Japan’s surrender, and Mao’s forces defeated the Nationalist government, which withdrew to Taiwan in 1949.
On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the PRC, a Marxist-Leninist single-party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years he solidified his control through the Chinese Land Reform against landlords, the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, the “Three-anti and Five-anti Campaigns”,
From 1953 to 1958, Mao played an important role in enforcing planned economy in China, constructing the first Constitution of the PRC, launching the industrialization program, and initiating the “Two Bombs, One Satellite” project. In 1958, he launched the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from agrarian to industrial.
In 1963, Mao launched the Socialist Education Movement, and in 1966 he 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,
After years of ill health, Mao suffered a series of heart attacks in 1976 and died at the age of 82. During Mao’s era, China’s population grew from around 550 million to over 900 million while the government did not strictly enforce its family planning policy.
Mao is regarded as one of the most important individuals in the twentieth century. He is also known as a political intellect, theorist, military strategist, and poet. During Mao’s era, China was involved in the Korean War, the Sino-Soviet split, the Vietnam War, and the rise of Khmer Rouge.
He was responsible for the good policies of the ‘Great Leap Forward’ and the ‘Cultural Revolution’. In 1958, in an attempt to introduce a more ‘Chinese’ form of communism, Mao launched the ‘Great Leap Forward’. This aimed at mass mobilization of labour to improve agricultural and industrial production.
Mao launched the ‘Cultural Revolution’ in 1966, aiming to purge the country of ‘impure’ elements and revive the revolutionary spirit. Although he described his father as a “rich peasant,” the family clearly had to work hard for a living. From an early age, Mao was a voracious reader.
He particularly liked popular historical novels concerning rebellions and unconventional military heroes. At age thirteen, after five years of education in the local primary school, he was forced by his father to leave school and return to the farm.
Mao continued to study on his own and at age sixteen left home to complete his elementary school training in the Hunanese capital of Changsha. It was here that Mao began to experience the powerful revolutionary waves engulfing Chinese society.