Mao Zedong


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Mao Zedong

or

Mao Tse-tung

(mou dzŭ-do͝ong), 1893–1976, founder of the People's Republic of China. Mao was one of the most prominent Communist theoreticians and his ideas on revolutionary struggle and guerrilla warfare have been extremely influential, especially among Third World revolutionaries.

Of Hunanese peasant stock, Mao was trained in Chinese classics and later received a modern education. As a young man he observed oppressive social conditions, becoming one of the original members of the Chinese Communist party. He organized (1920s) KuomintangKuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
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-sponsored peasant and industrial unions and directed (1926) the Kuomintang's Peasant Movement Training Institute. After the Kuomintang-Communist split (1927), Mao led the disastrous "Autumn Harvest Uprising" in Hunan, leading to his ouster from the central committee of the party.

From 1928 until 1931 Mao, with Zhu DeZhu De
or Chu Teh
, 1886–1976, Chinese Communist soldier and leader. He was graduated (1911) from the Yunnan military academy and served in various positions with armies loyal to Sun Yat-sen. Stationed in Sichuan prov., he was a warlord from 1916 to 1920.
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 and others, established rural soviets in the hinterlands, and built the Red Army. In 1931 he was elected chairman of the newly established Soviet Republic of China, based in Jiangxi province. After withstanding five encirclement campaigns launched by Chiang Kai-shekChiang Kai-shek
, 1887–1975, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.

After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
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, Mao led (1934–35) the Red Army on the long marchlong march,
Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934–35. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct.
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 (6,000 mi/9,656 km) from Jiangxi north to Yan'an in Shaanxi province, emerging as the most important Communist leader. During the Second Sino-Japanese WarSino-Japanese War, Second,
1937–45, conflict between Japanese and Chinese forces for control of the Chinese mainland. The war sapped the Nationalist government's strength while allowing the Communists to gain control over large areas through organization of guerrilla units.
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 (1937–45) the Communists and the Kuomintang continued their civil war while both were battling the Japanese invaders.

The civil war continued after war with Japan had ended, and in 1949, after the Communists had taken almost all of mainland China, Mao became chairman of the central government council of the newly established People's Republic of China; he was reelected to the post, the most powerful in China, in 1954. In an attempt to break with the Russian model of Communism and to imbue the Chinese people with renewed revolutionary vigor, Mao launched (1958) the Great Leap ForwardGreat Leap Forward,
1957–60, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel furnaces in place
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. The program was a terrible failure, an estimated 20 to 30 million people died in the famine that followed (1958–61), and Mao withdrew temporarily from public view.

The failure of this program also resulted in a break with the Soviet Union, which cut off aid. Mao accused Soviet leaders of betraying Marxism. In 1959 Liu ShaoqiLiu Shaoqi
or Liu Shao-ch'i
, 1898?–1969, Chinese Communist political leader. Liu joined (1920) a Comintern organization in Shanghai, where he studied Russian. While in Moscow in 1921, he joined the Chinese Communist party.
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, an opponent of the Great Leap Forward, replaced Mao as chairman of the central government council, but Mao retained his chairmanship of the Communist party politburo.

A campaign to reestablish Mao's ideological line culminated in the Cultural RevolutionCultural Revolution,
1966–76, mass mobilization of urban Chinese youth inaugurated by Mao Zedong in an attempt to prevent the development of a bureaucratized Soviet style of Communism.
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 (1966–76). Mass mobilization, begun and led by Mao and his wife, Jiang QingJiang Qing
or Chiang Ch'ing
, 1914–91, Chinese Communist political leader, wife of Mao Zedong. Born Li Jinhai or Li Shumeng, she was later known as Li Yunhe and Li He and changed her name to Lan Ping in 1938 when beginning an acting career, joining the Communist
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, was directed against the party leadership. Liu and others were removed from power in 1968. In 1969 Mao reasserted his party leadership by serving as chairman of the Ninth Communist Party Congress, and in 1970 he was named supreme commander of the nation and army. The cultural revolution group continued its campaigns until Mao's death in Sept., 1976. A month later its leaders were purged and Mao's surviving opponents, led by Deng XiaopingDeng Xiaoping
or Teng Hsiao-p'ing
, 1904–97, Chinese revolutionary and government leader, b. Sichuan prov. Deng became a member of the Chinese Communist party while studying in France (1920–25) and later (1926) attended Sun Yatsen Univ., Moscow.
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, slowly regained power, pushing aside Mao's successor, Hua GuofengHua Guofeng
or Hua Kuo-feng
, 1920–2008, Chinese Communist leader. He was relatively unknown until he became minister of public security and deputy premier in 1975. As Mao Zedong's designated heir, he became premier following Zhou Enlai's death (Jan.
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, and erasing the cult surrounding Mao. Mao's embalmed body is displayed in a mausoleum in Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

Bibliography

See his Selected Works (4 vol., 1954–56, repr. 1961–65), Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (ed. by S. R. Schram, 1967), and Poems (tr. 1972). See also biographies by R. Terrill (1980), P. Short (2000), J. Spence (2000), J. Chang and J. Halliday (2005), and A. V. Pantsov and S. I. Levine (2012); S. Karnow, Mao and China: From Revolution to Revolution (1972); J. B. Starr, Continuing the Revolution: The Political Thought of Mao (1977); S. R. Schram, Mao Zedong: A Preliminary Reassessment (1983); J. Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (2019).

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