"Politics is war without bloodshed. War is politics with bloodshed."Mao Zedong was the first head of state of the People's Republic of China, leading the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 and overseeing the establishment of the Peoples' Republic of China in 1949, ruling it until his death in 1976. Mao was born in Hunan Province in December 26, 1893. He was quite a rebellious lad, and had Abusive Parents. He managed to scrape enough money together from working on the family farm to get himself into high school. When the 1911 revolution got going he joined the local (Hunan-ese) revolutionary forces for a time, returning to high school once it was over so he could graduate. He later got job as a librarian at the Beijing University library, studying there on the side. It was in Beijing that he came in contact with Chinese Marxists. Mao later married Yang Kaihui, who was the daughter of his favorite professor, despite the fact that Mao was already married. It didn't end well for Yang, who was killed by Chiang's regime (the Kuomintang) in 1930. In 1921 Mao went to attend the foundation of the (unified) Communist Party of China (CCP) in Shanghai. He soon became a low-tier leader, his contact with socialist thinkers shaping his thoughts on communist ideology. When the Guomindang/Kuomintang (GMD/KMT) under Chiang Kai Shek purged the socialists from its ranks during the course of its campaign to unify the country, he began to work against it and helped lead attacks on and uprisings against the KMT such as those in Changsha in the late 1920s and the early 1930s, but they proved to be ill-advised and were quickly crushed with much brutality. He fled to Jiangxi province with some survivors and helped found a Chinese Soviet Republic there. After exterminating several other such Soviet Communes the KMT was poised to crush the Soviet in 1934, whereupon Mao and his troops staged a breakout and fled the province, cutting a swathe of destruction across the countryside as they took what they needed to survive at gunpoint. A tenth of this force, and Mao, eventually made it to an isolated Soviet in the mountains of Yan'an after completing what has become known as 'The Long March'. Mao managed to install himself as the leader of the Yan'an Soviet, and used this position to claim leadership of the CCP at the Zunyi Conference of 1935. Chiang was poised to destroy the Soviet, with a good chance of success, when the Warlord General Zhang Xueliang (son of the late Zhang Zuolin, 'The Tiger of the North') kidnapped him and forced to him to agree to an alliance with the communists against Japan, who invaded Manchuria in 1931. Chiang gave his word and called off the offensive, establishing 'the United Front'. In practice this treaty was more or less ignored by both sides, with KMT and Communist guerillas rarely co-operating and both parties' forces involved in an active stand-off along their shared border. The 'Hundred Regiments Offensive' of 1944 yielded some early successes for the Peoples' Liberation Army, but the manoeuvre soon proved disastrous when they attempted to hold their positions in open warfare. When Japan surrendered in 1945, Mao and Chiang swiftly moved to set themselves up for the resumption of the civil war, even as the USA tried in vain to force the two to negotiate on forming a national government together. The USSR also hedged its bets and gave support to both sides, but timed their withdrawal from formerly-Japanese Manchuria to allow the Communists to take up good positions there. Mao stalled for time and Chiang played along until he felt his forces were ready, whereupon he launched a massive offensive against the Yan'an Soviet and wiped the Communist Party off the map within just a few months. Mao and his troops, however, had merely retreated into the countryside. The KMT soon proved to have spread the troops of their various factions far too thinly across the countryside, their attempt to secure Manchuria despite its massive size and the Communists' greater influence over the countryside soon proving fatal to the forces - Chiang's best - that were ordered to hold their positions there. Mao knew very well that the peasantry was deeply distrustful of what the Communist Party stood for - they associated Communism with the Soviets - but unlike the KMT he was very careful to avoid antagonising them and he won the very poorest peasants over with programmes of rent-reduction and moderate land re-distribution from the wealthy and unpopular. By mid-1947 the country suffered hyperinflation as the short-sightedness of the KMT's economic policies - they tried to balance their huge budget deficits by printing money instead of, say, making a serious attempt at re-centralising their administration and thereby correcting gross corruption at the local level - began to tell, which made the Communists' reasonable credentials as a governing body look that much more attractive. With Manchuria secured for and its economy stabilised by the Communists, the Peoples' Liberation Army began to fight open battles with the KMT. They made great use of their superior manoeuvrability and intelligence - the product of a huge network of peasant-sympathisers who had been antagonised by the KMT - to crush or - more often - force the surrender of entire KMT formations one unit at a time. After a further two years of fighting, The Peoples' Republic of China was declared on October 1, 1949, whereas the Chiang and his remnant forces retreated to the island of Taiwan. In 1949, China's economy was still in a deep depression with industrial production still at less than a quarter of 1937 (pre Second Sino-Japanese War) levels, and the banking and financial sectors more or less completely wiped out by the Guomindang's post-war economic mismanagement and the hyperinflationary spiral that followed. The treasury also had almost zero precious metals in it, the KMT having tried its darnedest to ship every single bar of their gold and silver reserves to their new capital at Taipei - and the Soviets take what's left, as the first of many payments they demand in return for their economic and technical assistance in rebuilding the Chinese economy. This is extremely galling to say the least, as the loss of a full 'half' of China's pre-war industry is their fault; when the Soviets liberated Manchuria from Emperor Puyi's (Japanese-controlled) puppet regime, they stripped the region of absolutely everything of worth, right down to office furniture... leaving tens if not hundreds of thousands of inner-city Manchurians to starve and freeze (to death) during the winter of 1946, as the Soviets had stolen the factories they used to work in and the power plants that used to provide them with electricity. Nevertheless, Mao's Party proceeded to revolutionize Chinese society - starting with former Guomindang soldiers and regime personnel, who were put into re-education (through hard labour) camps for the next few months-to-years. They were joined by the Communists' political opponents - such as the democratic liberals and moderate socialists - and members of the 'bourgeoisie' and 'landlord' classes. Most adult landlords were publicly executed after the show-trials that exposed their 'Crimes Against The Peasantry', but not all adolescent- and child-landlords were killed and in fact many were simply subjected to re-education (through hard labour). That said, virtually all of the more 'dangerous' and/or 'unreformable' enemies of the regime (like adult landlords) were executed; if you were sent to a camp, it was because the regime thought you could be made to be of use to them in the future. The land that was thus freed up was redistributed, largely to the poor, this measure securing the CCP a solid base of support which made up for their tentative control over the (somewhat, if not openly, hostile) towns and cities. Generous funds were allocated to a programme of national schooling for all the country's children, and Chinese characters were simplified/standardised to make reading and writing them easier. In 1951, fearing that the North Koreans would lose in the Korean War when the US-led United Nations taskforce (the USSR had momentarily dropped out of the UN and its Security Council in protest)curb stomped their way up the Korean peninsula, Mao and his generals unleashed a Zerg Rush of 'Chinese People's Volunteers' against the UN troops, saving Kim Il Sung's regime from defeat at the hands of the UN. Although China's economy had finally recovered 1937-levels of production and was growing admirably in the first several years after the war (industrial production was growing 19% per year and national income 9% per year, though only 10% of GDP was accounted for by 'modern' industry and services at the time), this wasn't enough for Mao, who decided that China must surpass the Soviet Union in industrial production in 15 years or less. He declared a grand crusade to strengthen the Chinese economy, declaring the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1961. Because of poor management and extreme repression, anywhere from 16.5 to 46 million Chinese died in about 1959 to 1963 (the exact number will remain unknown until China's archives are made available to researchers). Officially, the famine was blamed on poor weather, dubbed the "Three Years of Natural Disasters". It doesn't help that during this period, Mao's China had a schism with Khrushchev's Soviet Union, dubbed the "Sino-Soviet Split", resulting in a complete withdrawal of Soviet technical assistance as the two fought small-scale, but increasingly intense, skirmishes along and across their mutually-disagreed-upon borders. Following the disasterous Great Leap Forward, Mao resigned his position as Chairman, and turned control of the party leadership to moderates like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. In his own words, Mao described himself as "dead ancestor", praised but never consulted. By 1966, Mao and his supporters launched the Cultural Revolution, whereas the faults of the Great Leap were on Liu and Deng, kicking them out of their positions in the hierarchy then used the Red Guards, leftist extremist students who were indeed more violent than their western counterparts, besides being assured of Mao's support. Thousands, including Liu Shaoqi, were Mis-blamed for the failures of the Cultural Revolution, and many others were imprisoned or killed. Mao then was ill by the 1970s, and his wife Jiang Qing and three of her associates later took powers for Mao until he died in 1976. Jiang and her associates were later purged as the 'Gang of Four'. Deng Xiaoping, who was later re-habilitated, was unable to criticize Mao for his failures until 1981, mainly because the Chinese people still loved Mao and regard him as the Founding Father of modern China, despite his numerous mistakes which leds to the deaths of millions. According to Deng, Mao was "seven parts right and three parts wrong". Thus, Deng found it very convenient politically to blame the Gang of Four not only for their own actions but also for Mao's. Deng Xiaoping managed to undo much of Mao's excesses, and later launched his campaign of To Get Rich Is Glorious, changing China's economy from a socialist based one into a market economy, which allowed for greater private enterprise and ownership. As such, today's China lies closer to Chiang Kai-shek's vision than Mao's own. In spite of this, Maoist memorabilia and "Red Tourism" to Mao's hometown still remain popular today in China due to nostalgia. Mao is also well known as a poet and military leader, and author of several books dealing with guerrilla warfare and political theories. The most well known is Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known as the Little Red Book, one of the most printed books of all time.
Tropes Embodied by Mao