Mao Zedong

Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong portrait.jpg
Chairman of the Communist Party of China
In office
March 20, 1943 – September 9, 1976
Deputy Liu Shaoqi
Lin Biao
Wang Hongwen
Preceded by Zhang Wentian
(as General Secretary)
Succeeded by Hua Guofeng
Chairman of the Central People's Government
In office
October 1, 1949 – September 27, 1954
Premier Zhou Enlai
1st Chairman of the People's Republic of China
In office
September 27, 1954 – April 27, 1959
Premier Zhou Enlai
Deputy Zhu De
Succeeded by Liu Shaoqi
Personal details
Born (1893-12-26)December 26, 1893
Shaoshan, Hunan, Qing Empire
Died September 9, 1976(1976-09-09) (aged 82)
Beijing, People's Republic of China
Resting place Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, Beijing, People's Republic of China
Political party Communist Party of China
Other political
Kuomintang (1925–1926)
Spouse(s) Luo Yixiu (1907–1910)
Yang Kaihui (1920–1930)
He Zizhen (1930–1937)
Jiang Qing (1939–1976)
Children 10, including:
Mao Anying
Mao Anqing
Mao Anlong
Yang Yuehua
Li Min
Li Na
Parents Mao Yichang
Wen Qimei
Alma mater Hunan First Normal University

Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong (Chinese characters).svg
"Mao Zedong" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese 毛泽东
Traditional Chinese 毛澤東

Mao Zedong [a] (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), commonly known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary, poet, political theorist and 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 Zedong was the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan. Mao adopted 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. Mao 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), after Japan's surrender China's civil war resumed and in 1949 Mao's forces defeated the Nationalists who withdrew to Taiwan.

On October 1, 1949, Mao Zedong proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a single-party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years Mao solidified his control through land reforms and through a psychological victory in the Korean War, and 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 an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962. In 1966, he initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to remove " counter-revolutionary" elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and which was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts and unprecedented elevation of Mao's personality cult and which is officially regarded as a "severe setback" for the PRC. [2] In 1972, Mao welcomed American President Richard Nixon in Beijing, signalling a policy of opening China, which was furthered under the rule of Deng Xiaoping (1978–1989). Mao suffered a series of heart attacks in 1976 and died at the age of 82 on September 9. Mao was succeeded as paramount leader by Chairman Hua Guofeng (1976–1978), who was quickly sidelined and replaced by Deng.

A controversial figure, Mao Zedong is regarded as one of the most important individuals in modern world history [3] and is also known as a theorist, military strategist, poet and visionary. [4] Supporters credit him with driving imperialism out of China, [5] 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. [6] [7] Conversely, his autocratic totalitarian regime has been vastly condemned for overseeing mass repressions and destruction of religious and cultural artifacts and sites, which through arbitrary executions, purges and forced labor caused an estimated 40 to 70 million deaths, which would rank his tenure as the top incidence of excess mortality in human history. [8] [9]

Early life

Youth and the Xinhai Revolution: 1893–1911

Mao Zedong was born on December 26, 1893, in Shaoshan village, Hunan Province, China. [10] 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. [11] Mao's mother, Wen Qimei, was a devout Buddhist who tried to temper her husband's strict attitude. [12] Mao too became a Buddhist, but abandoned this faith in his mid-teenage years. [12] 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. [13] 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. [14]

Mao Zedong's childhood home in Shaoshan, in 2010, by which time it had become a tourist destination

While working on his father's farm, Mao read voraciously [15] 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. [16] Interested in history, Mao was inspired by the military prowess and nationalistic fervour of George Washington and Napoleon Bonaparte. [17] His political views were shaped by Gelaohui-led protests which erupted following a famine in Hunanese capital Changsha; Mao supported the protesters' demands, but the armed forces suppressed the dissenters and executed their leaders. [18] 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. [19] At age 16, Mao moved to a higher primary school in nearby Dongshan, [20] where he was bullied for his peasant background. [21]

In 1911, Mao began middle school in Changsha. [22] 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. [23] In Changsha, Mao was influenced by Sun's newspaper, The People's Independence (Minli bao), [24] and called for Sun to become president in a school essay. [25] 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. [26]

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. [27] 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 would be abolished, creating the Republic of China, but the monarchist Yuan would become president. The revolution over, Mao resigned from the army in 1912, after six months as a soldier. [28] 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. [29]

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. [30] 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. [31] Viewing himself as an intellectual, years later he admitted that at this time he thought himself better than working people. [32] 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. [33] 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. [34]

Mao Zedong in 1913

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. [35] 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. [36] Mao published his first article in New Youth in April 1917, instructing readers to increase their physical strength to serve the revolution. [37] 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. [38]

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. [39] 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. [40] In spring 1917, he was elected to command the students' volunteer army, set up to defend the school from marauding soldiers. [41] 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. [42] 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. [43] Mao graduated in June 1919, ranked third in the year. [44]

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Gàidhlig: Mao Zedong
galego: Mao Tse Tung
贛語: 毛澤東
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Mao Zedong
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Mô Chhe̍t-tûng
хальмг: Мау Зедоң
한국어: 마오쩌둥
Հայերեն: Մաո Ցզե Դուն
हिन्दी: माओ से-तुंग
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қазақша: Мау Зыдоң
kernowek: Mao Zedong
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Kurdî: Mao Zedong
Ladino: Mao Tse-tung
لۊری شومالی: مائوتسئ تونگ
Latina: Mao Zedong
latviešu: Mao Dzeduns
Lëtzebuergesch: Mao Zedong
lietuvių: Mao Dzedongas
Livvinkarjala: Mao Zedong
la .lojban.: ma'os. dzedon.
magyar: Mao Ce-tung
македонски: Мао Це Тунг
Malagasy: Mao Zedong
Malti: Mao Zedong
მარგალური: მაო ძედუნი
مازِرونی: مائو
Bahasa Melayu: Mao Zedong
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Mò̤ Dĕk-dŭng
монгол: Мао Зэдун
မြန်မာဘာသာ: မော်စီတုန်း
Nederlands: Mao Zedong
日本語: 毛沢東
нохчийн: Мао Цзэдун
norsk: Mao Zedong
norsk nynorsk: Mao Zedong
occitan: Mao Zedong
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Mao Zedong
پنجابی: ماؤ زے تنگ
Patois: Mao Zidong
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ម៉ៅ សេទុង
Piemontèis: Mao Zedong
Plattdüütsch: Mao Zedong
polski: Mao Zedong
português: Mao Tsé-Tung
Ripoarisch: Mao Zedong
română: Mao Zedong
Runa Simi: Mao Zedong
русиньскый: Мао Цзедун
русский: Мао Цзэдун
саха тыла: Мао Цзэдун
संस्कृतम्: माओ त्से-तुंग
Scots: Mao Zedong
shqip: Mao Zedong
sicilianu: Mau Zitung
සිංහල: මාඕ සේතුං
Simple English: Mao Zedong
slovenčina: Mao Ce-tung
slovenščina: Mao Cetung
Soomaaliga: Mao Zedong
српски / srpski: Мао Цедунг
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Mao Tse-tung
suomi: Mao Zedong
svenska: Mao Zedong
Tagalog: Mao Zedong
татарча/tatarça: Mao Tzıduñ
тоҷикӣ: Мао Тседун
Türkçe: Mao Zedong
українська: Мао Цзедун
ئۇيغۇرچە / Uyghurche: ماۋزېدوڭ
Vahcuengh: Mauz Cwzdungh
vèneto: Mao Zedong
vepsän kel’: Mao Czedun
Tiếng Việt: Mao Trạch Đông
Võro: Mao Zedong
文言: 毛澤東
Winaray: Mao Zedong
吴语: 毛泽东
ייִדיש: מאא צעטאנג
Yorùbá: Mao Zedong
粵語: 毛澤東
žemaitėška: Mauo Dzeduns
中文: 毛泽东
Kabɩyɛ: Mao Zedong