Mao Zedong

Quick Facts:

Born: December 26, 1893

Died: September 9, 1976

Led China from 1949-1976

Credited with creating a modern China

Blamed for causing the death of an estimated 70 million people

Established the People's Republic of China

 

Biography:

Mao Zedong was the leader of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and was a military and political leader in China.  Mao was born into a wealthier family than most; however his family worked hard for the money they earned.  From an early age he was an avid reader, especially about history and unconventional war heroes.  He also was educated at a primary school until his father pulled him out of school to work on the farm.  He continued to study on his own while working, and at age sixteen he left home and went to secondary school.  It was in secondary school that Mao became interested in nationalist reformers and strong emperors in earlier periods of Chinese history.  In the early 1930s, Mao helped to establish the Chinese Soviet Republic and was elected as their chairman.  At the same time, Mao established the Red Guards and led them on “The Long March”.  During his later career in the 1930s, he also became a participant of the United Front and most importantly was appointed as head of the Communist party of China, and led them to victory against the Kuomintang in the Chinese Civil War.  After the Kuomintang battle, Mao established and served as Chairman of the People’s Republic of China.  He then tried to fix China’s problems with the Great Leap Forward, but it was a failure, which ultimately led to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.   Mao ended the Cultural Revolution in 1969, but many consider the Revolution to have lasted until Mao’s death in 1976.  Today, Mao is still a controversial figure.  To some in China, he is in high regard and is portrayed as a great revolutionary who transformed the country into a major power.  However, many blame his political programs; such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, for causing severe damage to the culture, society, economy, and foreign relations of China, as well as the pointless loss of innocent lives.