1893-12-26 to 1976-09-09
ChinaMao Zedong also known by his courtesy name Mao Runzhi and the title Chairman Mao as Chairman of the Communist Party of China and paramount leader of the People's Republic of China (PRC), was a Chinese communist revolutionary who led the Communist Party of China (CPC) as Leader of the Communist Party of China from 1943 to his death in 1976 and became the founding father of the PRC when it was established in 1949. In addition, he was also the Chairman of the Central Military Commission from 1954 to 1976. Although he was only formally the head of state until 1959, first as Chairman of the Central People's Government (1949 to 1954) and then as Chairman of the People's Republic of China (1954 to 1959) and was succeeded as head of state by Liu Shaoqi, his control over the party and military made him the de facto leader of the PRC from 1949 to 1976 and the paramount leader of the country's first generation of leadership. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought within the PRC, an ideology that remains a part of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, despite dramatic changes to government policy and ideological orientation after his death.
At age 13, Mao finished primary education, and his father united him in an arranged marriage to the 17-year-old Luo Yixiu, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 on 16 October, 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.
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.
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.
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.
On 20 March 1943, Mao Zedong became the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, and 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 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."
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" 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 (Tian'anmen) on October 1.
In 19 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 Korean war 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.
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.
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."
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."
At a large Communist Party conference in Beijing in January 1962, called the "Conference of the Seven Thousand", State Chairman Liu Shaoqi condemned the Great Leap Forward as responsible for widespread famine. The overwhelming majority of delegates expressed agreement, but Defense Minister Lin Biao staunchly defended Mao.
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.
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.