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"毛" redirects here. "毛" is also the Chinese character meaning Fur.
This is a Chinese name; the family name is Mao.
Mao Zedong (Tse-tung)

In office
Deputy Liu Shaoqi
Lin Biao
Zhou Enlai
Hua Guofeng
Preceded by Zhang Wentian
(As General Secretary)
Succeeded by Hua Guofeng

In office
27 September 1954 – April 1959
Premier Zhou Enlai
Deputy Zhu De
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by Liu Shaoqi

1st Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission
In office
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by Hua Guofeng

In office
1 October 1949 – 25 December 1954
Preceded by Position Created
Succeeded by Zhou Enlai
In office
25 December 1954 – 9 September 1976 (honorary)

Born 26 December 1893(1893-12-26)
Shaoshan, Xiangtan, Hunan, Qing Dynasty
Died 9 September 1976 (aged 82)
Beijing, People's Republic of China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Luo Yixiu (1907–1910)
Yang Kaihui (1920–1930)
He Zizhen (1930–1937)
Jiang Qing (1939–1976)
Religion Atheist

Mao Zedong (simplified Chinese: 毛泽东traditional Chinese: 毛澤東pinyin: Máo ZédōngWade-Giles: Mao Tse-tung) About this sound pronunciation (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976) was a Chinese revolutionary, political theorist and communist leader. He led the People's Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theoretical contribution to Marxism-Leninism, military strategies, and his brand of Communist policies are now collectively known as Maoism.

Mao remains a controversial figure to this day, with a contentious and ever-evolving legacy. He is officially held in high regard in China as a great revolutionary, political strategist, military mastermind, and savior of the nation. Many Chinese also believe that through his policies, he laid the economic, technological and cultural foundations of modern China, transforming the country from an agrarian society into a major world power. Additionally, Mao is viewed by many as a poet, philosopher, and visionary, owing the latter primarily to the cult of personality fostered during his time in power.[1] As a consequence, his portrait continues to be featured prominently on Tiananmen and on all Renminbi bills.

Conversely, Mao's social-political programs, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, are blamed for costing millions of lives, causing severe famine and damage to the culture, society and economy of China. This is generally accepted in China as well as by the Chinese Communist Party. Mao's policies and political purges from 1949 to 1975 are widely believed to have caused the deaths of between 50 to 70 million people.[2][3][4] Since Deng Xiaoping assumed power in 1978, many Maoist policies have been abandoned in favour of economic reforms.

Mao is regarded as one of the most influential figures in modern world history,[5] and named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century.[6]


Early life

Mao was born on December 26, 1893, in Shaoshan, Hunan province China. His father was a poor peasant who had become a wealthy farmer and grain dealer. At age 8 he began studying at the village primary school, but left school at 13 to work on the family farm. He later left the farm to continue his studies at a secondary school in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province. When the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing Dynasty broke out in 1911 he joined the Revolutionary Army in Hunan. In the spring of 1912 the war ended, the Republic of China was founded and Mao left the army. He eventually returned to school,[7] and in 1918 graduated from the First Provincial Normal School of Hunan.

Following his graduation, it is believed that Mao traveled with Professor Yang Changji, his college teacher and future father-in-law, to Beijing in 1919. Professor Yang died in 1920 but prior to his death had held a faculty position at Peking University, and at his recommendation, Mao worked as an assistant librarian at the University Library under the curatorship of Li Dazhao, who would come to greatly influence Mao's future thought. Mao registered as a part-time student at Beijing University and attended a few lectures and seminars by intellectuals, such as Chen Duxiu, Hu Shi, and Qian Xuantong. During his stay in Shanghai, he engaged himself as much as possible in reading which introduced him to Communist theories.

He married Yang Kaihui, Professor Yang's daughter and a fellow student, despite an existing marriage with Luo Yixiu arranged by his father at home, which Mao never acknowledged. In October 1930, the Kuomintang (KMT) captured Yang Kaihui as well as her son, Anying[citation needed]. The KMT imprisoned them both, and Anying was later sent to his relatives after the KMT killed his mother[citation needed]. At this time, Mao was living with He Zizhen, a co-worker and 17 year old girl from Yongxing, Jiangxi.[8] Likely due to poor language skills (Mao never learned to speak Mandarin), he turned down an opportunity to study in France.[9]

On 23 July 1921, Mao, age 27, attended the first session of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China in Shanghai. Two years later, he was elected as one of the five commissars of the Central Committee of the Party during the third Congress session. Later that year, Mao returned to Hunan at the instruction of the CPC Central Committee and the Kuomintang Central Committee to organize the Hunan branch of the Kuomintang.[10] In 1924, he was a delegate to the first National Conference of the Kuomintang, where he was elected an Alternate Executive of the Central Committee. In 1924, he became an Executive of the Shanghai branch of the Kuomintang and Secretary of the Organization Department.

For a while, Mao remained in Shanghai, an important city that the CPC emphasized for the Revolution. However, the Party encountered major difficulties organizing labor union movements and building a relationship with its nationalist ally, the Kuomintang (KMT). The Party had become poor, and Mao became disillusioned with the revolution and moved back to Shaoshan. During his stay at home, Mao's interest in the revolution was rekindled after hearing of the 1925 uprisings in Shanghai and Guangzhou. His political ambitions returned, and he then went to Guangdong, the base of the Kuomintang, to take part in the preparations for the second session of the National Congress of Kuomintang. In October 1925, Mao became acting Propaganda Director of the Kuomintang.

In early 1927, Mao returned to Hunan where, in an urgent meeting held by the Communist Party, he made a report based on his investigations of the peasant uprisings in the wake of the Northern Expedition. This is considered the initial and decisive step towards the successful application of Mao's revolutionary theories.[11]

Political ideas

Mao had a strong interest in the political system, encouraged by his father. His two most famous essays, both from 1937, 'On Contradiction' and 'On Practice', are concerned with the practical strategies of a revolutionary movement and stress the importance of practical, grassroots knowledge, obtained through experience.

Both essays reflect the guerrilla roots of Maoism in the need to build up support in the countryside against a Japanese occupying force and emphasise the need to win over 'hearts and minds' through 'education'. The essays, reproduced later as part of the 'Red Book', warn against the behaviour of the blindfolded man trying to catch sparrows, and the 'Imperial envoy' descending from his carriage to 'spout opinions' .

After graduating from Hunan Normal School, the highest level of schooling available in his province, Mao spent six months studying independently. Mao was first introduced to communism while working at Peking University, and in 1921 he attended the organizational meeting of the Communist Party of China (or CPC). He first encountered Marxism while he worked as a library assistant at Peking University.

Other important influences on Mao were the Russian revolution and, according to some scholars, the Chinese literary works: Outlaws of the Marsh and Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Mao sought to subvert the alliance of imperialism and feudalism in China. He thought the Nationalists to be both economically and politically vulnerable and thus that the revolution could not be steered by Nationalists.

Throughout the 1920s, Mao led several labour struggles based upon his studies of the propagation and organization of the contemporary labour movements.[12] However, these struggles were successfully subdued by the government, and Mao fled from Changsha after he was labeled a radical activist. He pondered these failures and finally realized that industrial workers were unable to lead the revolution because they made up only a small portion of China's population, and unarmed labour struggles could not resolve the problems of imperial and feudal suppression.

Mao began to depend on Chinese peasants who later became staunch supporters of his theory of violent revolution. This dependence on the rural rather than the urban proletariat to instigate violent revolution distinguished Mao from his predecessors and contemporaries. Mao himself was from a peasant family, and thus he cultivated his reputation among the farmers and peasants and introduced them to Marxism.[11][13]


Mao in 1927
Mao in 1931

In 1927, Mao conducted the famous Autumn Harvest Uprising in Changsha, Hunan, as commander-in-chief. Mao led an army, called the "Revolutionary Army of Workers and Peasants", which was defeated and scattered after fierce battles. Afterwards, the exhausted troops were forced to leave Hunan for Sanwan, Jiangxi, where Mao re-organized the scattered soldiers, rearranging the military division into smaller regiments.

Mao also ordered that each company must have a party branch office with a commissar as its leader who would give political instructions based upon superior mandates. This military rearrangement in Sanwan, Jiangxi initiated the CPC's absolute control over its military force and has been considered to have the most fundamental and profound impact upon the Chinese revolution. Later, they moved to the Jinggang Mountains, Jiangxi.

In the Jinggang Mountains, Mao persuaded two local insurgent leaders to pledge their allegiance to him. There, Mao joined his army with that of Zhu De, creating the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army of China, Red Army in short. Mao's tactics were strongly based on that of the Spanish Guerillas during the Napoleonic Wars.

From 1931 to 1934, Mao helped establish the Soviet Republic of China and was elected Chairman of this small republic in the mountainous areas in Jiangxi. Here, Mao was married to He Zizhen. His previous wife, Yang Kaihui, had been arrested and executed in 1930, just three years after their departure.

It was alleged[citation needed] that Mao orchestrated the Anti-Bolshevik League incident and the Futian incident.

In Jiangxi, Mao's authoritative domination, especially that of the military force, was challenged by the Jiangxi branch of the CPC and military officers. Mao's opponents, among whom the most prominent was Li Wenlin, the founder of the CPC's branch and Red Army in Jiangxi, were against Mao's land policies and proposals to reform the local party branch and army leadership. Mao reacted first by accusing the opponents of opportunism and kulakism and then set off a series of systematic suppressions of them.[14]

Under the direction of Mao, it is reported that horrible methods of torture took place[15] and given names such as sitting in a sedan chair, airplane ride, toad-drinking water, and monkey pulling reins."[15] The wives of several suspects had their breasts cut open and their genitals burned.[15] It has been estimated that 'tens of thousands' of suspected enemies,[16] perhaps as many as 186,000,[17] were killed during this purge. Critics accuse Mao's authority in Jiangxi of being secured and reassured through the revolutionary terrorism, or red terrorism.[18]

Mao, with the help of Zhu De, built a modest but effective army, undertook experiments in rural reform and government, and provided refuge for Communists fleeing the rightist purges in the cities. Mao's methods are normally referred to as Guerrilla warfare; but he himself made a distinction between guerrilla warfare (youji zhan) and Mobile Warfare (yundong zhan).

Mao's Guerrilla Warfare and Mobile Warfare was based upon the fact of the poor armament and military training of the Red Army which consisted mainly of impoverished peasants, who, however, were all encouraged by revolutionary passions and aspiring after a communist utopia.

Around 1930, there had been more than ten regions, usually entitled "soviet areas", under control of the CPC.[19] The relative prosperity of "soviet areas" startled and worried Chiang Kai-shek, chairman of the Kuomintang government, who waged five waves of besieging campaigns against the "central soviet area." More than one million Kuomintang soldiers were involved in these five campaigns, four of which were defeated by the Red Army led by Mao. By June 1932 (the height of its power), the Red Army had no less than 45,000 soldiers, with a further 200,000 local militia acting as a subsidiary force.[20]

Under increasing pressure from the KMT encirclement campaigns, there was a struggle for power within the Communist leadership. Mao was removed from his important positions and replaced by individuals (including Zhou Enlai) who appeared loyal to the orthodox line advocated by Moscow and represented within the CPC by a group known as the 28 Bolsheviks.

Mao in 1935

Chiang Kai-shek, who had earlier assumed nominal control of China due in part to the Northern Expedition, was determined to eliminate the Communists. By October 1934, he had them surrounded, prompting them to engage in the "Long March," a retreat from Jiangxi in the southeast to Shaanxi in the northwest of China. It was during this 9,600 kilometer (5,965 mile), year-long journey that Mao emerged as the top Communist leader, aided by the Zunyi Conference and the defection of Zhou Enlai to Mao's side. At this Conference, Mao entered the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

According to the standard Chinese Communist Party line, from his base in Yan'an, Mao led the Communist resistance against the Japanese in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).[citation needed] However, Mao further consolidated power over the Communist Party in 1942 by launching the Shu Fan movement, or "Rectification" campaign against rival CPC members such as Wang Ming, Wang Shiwei, and Ding Ling. Also while in Yan'an, Mao divorced He Zizhen and married the actress Lan Ping, who would become known as Jiang Qing.

Mao in 1938, writing On Protracted War [21]

During the Sino-Japanese War, Mao Zedong's military strategies, laid out in On Guerrilla Warfare were opposed by both Chiang Kai-shek and the United States. The US regarded Chiang as an important ally, able to help shorten the war by engaging the Japanese occupiers in China. Chiang, in contrast, sought to build the ROC army for the certain conflict with Mao's communist forces after the end of World War II. This fact was not understood well in the US, and precious lend-lease armaments continued to be allocated to the Kuomintang.

In turn, Mao spent part of the war (as to whether it was most or only a little is disputed) fighting the Kuomintang for control of certain parts of China. Both the Communists and Nationalists have been criticised for fighting amongst themselves rather than allying against the Japanese Imperial Army. Some argue, however, that the Nationalists were better equipped and fought more against Japan.[22]

In 1944, the Americans sent a special diplomatic envoy, called the Dixie Mission, to the Communist Party of China. According to Edwin Moise, in Modern China: A History 2nd Edition:

Most of the Americans were favorably impressed. The CPC seemed less corrupt, more unified, and more vigorous in its resistance to Japan than the Kuomintang. United States fliers shot down over North China...confirmed to their superiors that the CPC was both strong and popular over a broad area. In the end, the contacts with the USA developed with the CPC led to very little.

After the end of World War II, the U.S. continued to support Chiang Kai-shek, now openly against the Communist's People's Liberation Army led by Mao Zedong in the civil war for control of China. The U.S. support was part of its view to contain and defeat world communism. Likewise, the Soviet Union gave quasi-covert support to Mao (acting as a concerned neighbor more than a military ally, to avoid open conflict with the U.S.) and gave large supplies of arms to the Communist Party of China, although newer Chinese records indicate the Soviet "supplies" were not as large as previously believed, and consistently fell short of the promised amount of aid.[citation needed]

In 1948, 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 from June 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.”[23]

On 21 January 1949, Kuomintang forces suffered massive losses against Mao's forces. In the early morning of 10 December 1949, PLA troops laid siege to Chengdu, the last KMT-occupied city in mainland China, and Chiang Kai-shek evacuated from the mainland to Taiwan (Formosa) that same day.

Leadership of China

Joseph Stalin and Mao depicted on a Chinese postage stamp

The People's Republic of China was established on October 1, 1949. It was the culmination of over two decades of civil and international war. From 1954 to 1959, Mao was the Chairman of the PRC. During this period, Mao was called Chairman Mao (毛主席) or the Great Leader Chairman Mao (伟大领袖毛主席).

The Communist Party assumed control of all media in the country and used it to promote the image of Mao and the Party. The Nationalists under General Chiang Kai-Shek were vilified as were countries such as the United States of America and Japan. The Chinese people were exhorted to devote themselves to build and strengthen their country through Communist ideology. In his speech declaring the foundation of the PRC, Mao is famously said to have announced: "The Chinese people have stood up" (though whether he actually said it is disputed[24]).

Mao took up residence in Zhongnanhai, a compound next to the Forbidden City in Beijing, and there he ordered the construction of an indoor swimming pool and other buildings. Mao often did his work either in bed or by the side of the pool, preferring not to wear formal clothes unless absolutely necessary, according to Dr. Li Zhisui, his personal physician. (Li's book, The Private Life of Chairman Mao, is regarded as controversial, especially by those sympathetic to Mao.)

In October 1950, Mao made the decision to send the People's Volunteer Army into Korea and fought against the United Nations forces led by the U.S. Historical records showed that Mao directed the PVA campaigns in the Korean War to the minute details.[25]

Along with Land reform, during which significant numbers of landlords were beaten to death at mass meetings organized by the CPC as land was taken from them and given to poorer peasants,[26] there was also the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries,[27] which involved public executions targeting mainly former Kuomintang officials, businessmen accused of "disturbing" the market, former employees of Western companies and intellectuals whose loyalty was suspect.[28] The U.S. State department in 1976 estimated that there may have been a million killed in the land reform, 800,000 killed in the counterrevolutionary campaign.[29]

Mao himself claimed that a total of 700,000 people were executed during the years 1949–53.[30] However, because there was a policy to select "at least one landlord, and usually several, in virtually every village for public execution",[31] the number of deaths range between 2 million[31][32] and 5 million.[33][34] In addition, at least 1.5 million people,[35] perhaps as many as 4 to 6 million,[36] were sent to "reform through labour" camps where many perished.[36] Mao played a personal role in organizing the mass repressions and established a system of execution quotas,[37] which were often exceeded.[27] Nevertheless he defended these killings as necessary for the securing of power.[38]

Starting in 1951, Mao initiated two successive movements in an effort to rid urban areas of corruption by targeting wealthy capitalists and political opponents, known as the three-anti/five-anti campaigns. A climate of raw terror developed as workers denounced their bosses, wives turned on their husbands, and children informed on their parents; the victims often being humiliated at struggle sessions, a method designed to intimidate and terrify people to the maximum. Mao insisted that minor offenders be criticized and reformed or sent to labor camps, "while the worst among them should be shot." These campaigns took several hundred thousand additional lives, the vast majority via suicide.[39]

In Shanghai, people jumping to their deaths became so commonplace that residents avoided walking on the pavement near skyscrapers for fear that suicides might land on them.[40] Some biographers have pointed out that driving those perceived as enemies to suicide was a common tactic during the Mao-era. For example, in his biography of Mao, Philip Short notes that in the Yan'an Rectification Movement, Mao gave explicit instructions that "no cadre is to be killed," but in practice allowed security chief Kang Sheng to drive opponents to suicide and that "this pattern was repeated throughout his leadership of the People's Republic."[41]

Following the consolidation of power, Mao launched the First Five-Year Plan (1953–8). The plan aimed to end Chinese dependence upon agriculture in order to become a world power. With the Soviet Union's assistance, new industrial plants were built and agricultural production eventually fell to a point where industry was beginning to produce enough capital that China no longer needed the USSR's support. The success of the First Five Year Plan was to encourage Mao to instigate the Second Five Year Plan, the Great Leap Forward, in 1958. Mao also launched a phase of rapid collectivization. The CPC introduced price controls as well as a Chinese character simplification aimed at increasing literacy. Large scale industrialization projects were also undertaken.

Programs pursued during this time include the Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which Mao indicated his supposed willingness to consider different opinions about how China should be governed. Given the freedom to express themselves, liberal and intellectual Chinese began opposing the Communist Party and questioning its leadership. This was initially tolerated and encouraged. After a few months, Mao's government reversed its policy and persecuted those, totalling perhaps 500,000, who criticized, as well as those who were merely alleged to have criticized, the Party in what is called the Anti-Rightist Movement. Authors such as Jung Chang have alleged that the Hundred Flowers Campaign was merely a ruse to root out "dangerous" thinking.[42]

Others such as Dr Li Zhisui have suggested that Mao had initially seen the policy as a way of weakening those within his party who opposed him, but was surprised by the extent of criticism and the fact that it began to be directed at his own leadership.[citation needed] It was only then that he used it as a method of identifying and subsequently persecuting those critical of his government. The Hundred Flowers movement led to the condemnation, silencing, and death of many citizens, also linked to Mao's Anti-Rightist Movement, with death tolls possibly in the millions.

Great Leap Forward

In January 1958, Mao Zedong 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 which had been formed to date were rapidly merged into far larger people's communes, and many of the peasants ordered to work on massive infrastructure projects and the small-scale production of iron and steel. Some private food production was banned; livestock and farm implements were brought under collective ownership.

Under the Great Leap Forward, Mao and other party leaders ordered the implementation of a variety of unproven and unscientific new agricultural techniques by the new communes. Combined with the diversion of labor to steel production and infrastructure projects and the reduced personal incentives under a commune system this led to an approximately 15% drop in grain production in 1959 followed by further 10% reduction in 1960 and no recovery in 1961 (Spence, 553).

In an effort to win favor with their superiors and avoid being purged, each layer in the party hierarchy exaggerated the amount of grain produced under them and based on the fabricated success, party cadres were ordered to requisition a disproportionately high amount of the true harvest for state use primarily in the cities and urban areas but also for export. The net result, which was compounded in some areas by drought and in others by floods, was that the rural peasants were not left enough to eat and many millions starved to death in the largest famine in human history. This famine was a direct cause of the death of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Further, many children who became emaciated and malnourished during years of hardship and struggle for survival, died shortly after the Great Leap Forward came to an end in 1962 (Spence, 553).

The extent of Mao's knowledge as to the severity of the situation has been disputed. According to some, most notably Dr. Li Zhisui, Mao was not aware of anything more than a mild food and general supply shortage until late 1959.

"But I do not think that when he spoke on 2 July 1959, he knew how bad the disaster had become, and he believed the party was doing everything it could to manage the situation"

Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, in Mao: the Unknown Story, alleged that Mao knew of the vast suffering and that he was dismissive of it, blaming bad weather or other officials for the famine.

"Although slaughter was not his purpose with the Leap, he was more than ready for myriad deaths to result, and hinted to his top echelon that they should not be too shocked if they happened (438–439)."

In Hungry Ghosts, Jasper Becker notes that Mao was dismissive of reports he received of food shortages in the countryside and refused to change course, believing that peasants were lying and that rightists and kulaks were hoarding grain. He refused to open state granaries,[43] and instead launched a series of "anti-grain concealment" drives that resulted in numerous purges and suicides.[44] Other violent campaigns followed in which party leaders went from village to village in search of hidden food reserves, and not only grain, as Mao issued quotas for pigs, chickens, ducks and eggs. Many peasants accused of hiding food were tortured and beaten to death.[45]

Whatever the case, the Great Leap Forward led to millions of deaths in China. Mao lost esteem among many of the top party cadres and was eventually forced to abandon the policy in 1962, also losing some political power to moderate leaders, notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. However, Mao and national propaganda claimed that he was only partly to blame. As a result, he was able to remain Chairman of the Communist Party, with the Presidency transferred to Liu Shaoqi.

The Great Leap Forward was a disaster for China. Although the steel quotas were officially reached, almost all of it made in the countryside was useless lumps of iron, as it had been made from assorted scrap metal in home made furnaces with no reliable source of fuel such as coal. According to Zhang Rongmei, a geometry teacher in rural Shanghai during the Great Leap Forward:

"We took all the furniture, pots, and pans we had in our house, and all our neighbors did likewise. We put all everything in a big fire and melted down all the metal."

Moreover, most of the dams, canals and other infrastructure projects, which millions of peasants and prisoners had been forced to toil on and in many cases die for, proved useless as they had been built without the input of trained engineers, whom Mao had rejected on ideological grounds.

The worst of the famine was steered towards enemies of the state, much like during the 1932–33 famine in the USSR.[46] As Jasper Becker explains:

"The most vulnerable section of China's population, around five per cent, were those whom Mao called 'enemies of the people'. Anyone who had in previous campaigns of repression been labeled a 'black element' was given the lowest priority in the allocation of food. Landlords, rich peasants, former members of the nationalist regime, religious leaders, rightists, counter-revolutionaries and the families of such individuals died in the greatest numbers."[47]

Mao, shown here with Henry Kissinger and Zhou Enlai; Beijing, 1972.

In the Party Congress at Lushan in July/August 1959, several leaders expressed concern that the Great Leap Forward was not as successful as planned. The most direct of these was Minister of Defence and Korean War General Peng Dehuai. Mao, fearing loss of his position, 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."[48] A campaign against right opportunism was launched and resulted in party members and ordinary peasants being sent to camps where many would subsequently die in the famine. Years later the CPC would conclude that 6 million people were wrongly punished in the campaign.[49]

There is a great deal of controversy over the number of deaths by starvation during the Great Leap Forward. Until the mid 1980s, when official census figures were finally published by the Chinese Government, little was known about the scale of the disaster in the Chinese countryside, as the handful of Western observers allowed access during this time had been restricted to model villages where they were deceived into believing that Great Leap Forward had been a great success. There was also an assumption that the flow of individual reports of starvation that had been reaching the West, primarily through Hong Kong and Taiwan, must be localized or exaggerated as China was continuing to claim record harvests and was a net exporter of grain through the period. Because Mao wanted to pay back early to the Soviets debts totaling 1.973 billion yuan from 1960 to 1962,[50] exports increased by 50%, and fellow Communist regimes in North Korea, North Vietnam and Albania were provided grain free of charge.[43]

Censuses were carried out in China in 1953, 1964 and 1982. The first attempt to analyse this data in order to estimate the number of famine deaths was carried out by American demographer Dr Judith Banister and published in 1984. Given the lengthy gaps between the censuses and doubts over the reliability of the data, an accurate figure is difficult to ascertain. Nevertheless, Banister concluded that the official data implied that around 15 million excess deaths incurred in China during 1958–61 and that based on her modelling of Chinese demographics during the period and taking account of assumed underreporting during the famine years, the figure was around 30 million. The official statistic is 20 million deaths, as given by Hu Yaobang.[51] Yang Jisheng, a former Xinhua News Agency reporter who had privileged access and connections available to no other scholars, estimates a death toll of 36 million.[50] Various other sources have put the figure between 20 and 46 million.[52]

On the international front, the period was dominated by the further isolation of China, due to start of the Sino-Soviet split which resulted in Khrushchev withdrawing all Soviet technical experts and aid from the country. The split was triggered by border disputes, and arguments over the control and direction of world communism, and other disputes pertaining to foreign policy. Most of the problems regarding communist unity resulted from the death of Stalin and his replacement by Khrushchev.

Stalin had established himself as the successor of "correct" Marxist thought well before Mao controlled the Communist Party of China, and therefore Mao never challenged the suitability of any Stalinist doctrine (at least while Stalin was alive). Upon the death of Stalin, Mao believed (perhaps because of seniority) that the leadership of the "correct" Marxist doctrine would fall to him. The resulting tension between Khrushchev (at the head of a politically/militarily superior government), and Mao (believing he had a superior understanding of Marxist ideology) eroded the previous patron-client relationship between the CPSU and CPC. In China, the formerly favourable Soviets were now denounced as "revisionists" and listed alongside "American imperialism" as movements to oppose.

Mao greeting Che Guevara in China at an official ceremony in the Government palace, November 1960

Partly-surrounded by hostile American military bases (reaching from South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan), China was now confronted with a new Soviet threat from the north and west. Both the internal crisis and the external threat called for extraordinary statesmanship from Mao, but as China entered the new decade the statesmen of the People's Republic were in hostile confrontation with each other.

At a large Communist Party conference in Beijing in January 1962, called the "Conference of the Seven Thousand," State President Liu Shaoqi denounced the Great Leap Forward as responsible for widespread famine.[53] The overwhelming majority of delegates expressed agreement, but Defense Minister Lin Biao staunchly defended Mao.[53] A brief period of liberalization followed while Mao and Lin plotted a comeback.[53] Liu and Deng Xiaoping rescued the economy by disbanding the people's communes, introducing elements of private control of peasant smallholdings and importing grain from Canada and Australia to mitigate the worst effects of famine.

Cultural Revolution

Mao was concerned with the nature of post 1949 China. He saw that the revolution had replaced an old elite, with a new one. He was concerned that those in power were becoming estranged from the people they were supposed to serve. Corruption was also a concern. Mao thought that a greater threat to China was not from forces outside of the Communist Party, but from people from within who would subvert it and create a new elite who would control the masses of the population, and not serve them (capitalism from within). He thought that a renewal was required, a revolution of culture that would unseat and unsettle the "ruling class" and keep China in a state of 'perpetual revolution' that served the interests of the majority, not a tiny elite.[54]

There are political aspects to this period as well. Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping's prominence gradually became more powerful. Liu and Deng, then the State President and General Secretary, respectively, had favored the idea that Mao should be removed from actual power but maintain his ceremonial and symbolic role, with the party upholding all of his positive contributions to the revolution. They attempted to marginalize Mao by taking control of economic policy and asserting themselves politically as well. Many claim that Mao responded to Liu and Deng's movements by launching the Cultural Revolution in 1966, although the case for this is perhaps overstated.[55]

Believing that certain liberal bourgeois elements of society continued to threaten the socialist framework, groups of young people known as the Red Guards struggled against authorities at all levels of society and even set up their own tribunals. Chaos reigned in many parts of the country, and millions were persecuted, including a famous philosopher, Chen Yuen. Mao is said to have ordered that no physical harm come to anyone, but that was not always the case. During the Cultural Revolution, the schools in China were closed and the young intellectuals living in cities were ordered to the countryside to be "re-educated" by the peasants, where they performed hard manual labor and other work.

The Revolution led to the destruction of much of China's traditional cultural heritage and the imprisonment of a huge number of Chinese citizens, as well as creating general economic and social chaos in the country. Millions of lives were ruined during this period, as the Cultural Revolution pierced into every part of Chinese life, depicted by such Chinese films as To Live, The Blue Kite and Farewell My Concubine. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, perished in the violence of the Cultural Revolution.[52]

When Mao was informed of such losses, particularly that people had been driven to suicide, he is alleged to have commented: "People who try to commit suicide — don't attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people."[56] The authorities allowed the Red Guards to abuse and kill opponents of the regime. Said Xie Fuzhi, national police chief: "Don't say it is wrong of them to beat up bad persons: if in anger they beat someone to death, then so be it."[57] As a result, in August and September 1966, there were 1,772 people murdered in Beijing alone.[58]

Mao greets United States President Richard Nixon during his visit to China in 1972

It was during this period that Mao chose Lin Biao, who seemed to echo all of Mao's ideas, to become his successor. Lin was later officially named as Mao's successor. By 1971, however, a divide between the two men became apparent. Official history in China states that Lin was planning a military coup or an assassination attempt on Mao. Lin Biao died in a plane crash over the air space of Mongolia, presumably in his way to flee China, probably anticipating his arrest. The CPC declared that Lin was planning to depose Mao, and posthumously expelled Lin from the party. At this time, Mao lost trust in many of the top CPC figures. The highest-ranking Soviet Bloc intelligence defector, Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa described his conversation with Nicolae Ceauşescu who told him about a plot to kill Mao Zedong with the help of Lin Biao organized by KGB.[59]

In 1969, Mao declared the Cultural Revolution to be over, although the official history of the People's Republic of China marks the end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 with Mao's death. In the last years of his life, Mao was faced with declining health due to either Parkinson's disease or, according to Li Zhisui, motor neurone disease, as well as lung ailments due to smoking and heart trouble. Some also attributed Mao's decline in health to the betrayal of Lin Biao. Mao remained passive as various factions within the Communist Party mobilized for the power struggle anticipated after his death.

This period is often looked at in official circles in China and in the west as a great stagnation or even of reversal for China. While many — an estimated 100 million — did suffer,[60] some scholars, such as Lee Feigon and Mobo Gao, claim there were many great advances, and in some sectors the Chinese economy continued to outperform the west.[61] They actually go so far as to conclude that the Cultural Revolution period actually laid the foundation for the spectacular growth that continues in China. During the Cultural Revolution, China exploded its first H-Bomb (1967), launched the Dong Fang Hong satellite (January 30, 1970), commissioned its first nuclear submarines and made various advances in science and technology. Health care was free, and living standards in the country side continued to improve.[61]

Death: Mao's final week & days

At five o'clock in the afternoon of September 2, 1976, Mao suffered a heart attack, far more severe than his previous two and affecting a much larger area of his heart. X rays indicated that his lung infection had worsened, and his urine output dropped to less than 300 cc a day. Mao was awake and alert throughout the crisis and asked several times whether he was in danger. His condition continued to fluctuate and his life hung in the balance.

Three days later, on September 5, Mao's condition was still critical, and Hua Guofeng called Jiang Qing back from her trip. She spent only a few moments in Building 202 (where Mao was staying) before returning to her own residence in the Spring Lotus Chamber.

On the afternoon of September 7, Mao took a turn for the worse. Jiang Qing went to Building 202 where she learned the news. Mao had just fallen asleep and needed the rest, but she insisted on rubbing his back and moving his limbs, and she sprinkled powder on his body. The medical team protested that the dust from the powder was not good for his lungs, but she instructed the nurses on duty to follow her example later. The next morning, September 8, she went again. She demanded the medical staff to change Mao's sleeping position, claiming that he had been lying too long on his left side. The doctor on duty objected, knowing that he could breathe only on his left side, but she had him moved nonetheless.

Mao's breathing stopped and his face turned blue. Jiang Qing left the room while the medical staff put him on a respirator and performed emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Mao barely revived and Hua Guofeng urged Jiang Qing not to interfere further with the doctors' work, as her actions were detrimental to Mao's health and helped cause his death faster. Mao's organs were failing and he was taken off the life support a few minutes after midnight. September 9 was chosen because it was an easy day to remember. Mao had been in poor health for several years and had declined visibly for at least 6 months prior to his death.

His body lay in state at the Great Hall of the People. A memorial service was held in Tiananmen Square on 18 September 1976. There was a three minute silence observed during this service. His body was later placed into the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, even though he had wished to be cremated and had been one of the first high-ranking officials to sign the "Proposal that all Central Leaders be Cremated after Death" in November 1956.[62]

Cult of Mao

Mao's figure is largely symbolic both in China and in the global communist movement as a whole. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao's already glorified image manifested into a personality cult that influenced every aspect of Chinese life. Mao was regarded as the undisputed leader of China's working class in their 100-year struggle against imperialism, feudalism and capitalism, which were the three-evils in pre-1949 China since the Opium War. Even today, many Chinese people regard Mao as a God-like figure, who led the ailing China onto the path of an independent and powerful nation, whose pictures can expel the evil spirit and bad luck.

At the 1958 Party congress in Chengdu, Mao expressed support for the idea of personality cults if they venerated figures who were genuinely worthy of adulation:

There are two kinds of personality cults. One is a healthy personality cult, that is, to worship men like Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. Because they hold the truth in their hands. The other is a false personality cult, i.e. not analyzed and blind worship.[63]

In 1962, Mao proposed the Socialist Education Movement (SEM) in an attempt to educate the peasants to resist the temptations of feudalism and the sprouts of capitalism that he saw re-emerging in the countryside from Liu's economic reforms. Large quantities of politicized art were produced and circulated — with Mao at the center. Numerous posters, badges and musical compositions referenced Mao in the phrase "Chairman Mao is the red sun in our hearts" (毛主席是我们心中的红太阳)[64] and a "Savior of the people" (人民的大救星)[64][65].

The Cult of Mao proved vital in starting the Cultural Revolution. China's youth had generally been raised during the Communist era, which had taught them to idolize Mao. The youth also did not remember the immense starvation and suffering caused by Mao's Great Leap Forward, and their thoughts of Mao were generally positive. Thus, they were his greatest supporters. Their feelings for him were of such strength that many followed his urge to challenge all established authority.

In October 1966, Mao's Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, which was known as the Little Red Book was published. Party members were encouraged to carry a copy with them and possession was almost mandatory as a criterion for membership. Over the years, Mao's image became displayed almost everywhere, present in homes, offices and shops. His quotations were typographically emphasized by putting them in boldface or red type in even the most obscure writings. Music from the period emphasized Mao's stature, as did children's rhymes. The phrase Long Live Chairman Mao for ten thousand years was commonly heard during the era, which was traditionally a phrase reserved for the reigning Emperor.

Today, Mao is still regarded by some as the "never setting Red Sun". He has been compared to the Sage Kings of the classical China[66]. Since 1950, over 40 million people have visited Mao's birthplace in Shaoshan. Hunan[66]

Popular culture

A 1950 Chinese propaganda poster showing a happy family of five enjoying life under the image of Mao Zedong.

Mao also has a presence in China and around the world in popular culture, where his face adorns everything from t-shirts to coffee cups. Mao's granddaughter Kong Dongmei, defended the phenomenon, stating that "it shows his influence, that he exists in people's consciousness and has influenced several generations of Chinese people's way of life. Just like Che Guevara's image, his has become a symbol of revolutionary culture."[67] He has also been immortalized in the song "Revolution" sung by The Beatles with the lyric, "And if you go carryin' pictures of chairman Mao/you ain't gonna make it with anyone anyhow."


"Mao was an accomplished poet, writer and historian, a profound thinker, and a superb military strategist. He crushed the US-backed Nationalist's 4.3-million strong armies in a series of titanic battles, forcing his rival, Chiang Kai-shek, to flee to Taiwan [...] The Great Helmsman united fractured, war-torn China, restoring its pride and self-confidence after two centuries of humiliation. Mao thwarted both Soviet and U.S. efforts to turn China into a client state, and built up China's military power [...] But Mao's crackpot economic notions, notably the infamous 1958 Great Leap Forward, created famines that killed 20–36 million Chinese peasants. Mao's aides dared not tell him millions were starving. Red Emperor Mao was prodigal with his people's lives, and, according to aides who were close to him, was shockingly indifferent to their suffering. Mao horrified even brutal Soviet leaders by saying he was prepared to lose half his people to emerge victorious from a nuclear war [...] Like Stalin – once called "half man, half beast" – Mao appealed as much as he repelled. Most Chinese now regard Mao as their nation's beloved, respected father — but one who went dangerously senile before his death in 1976."

Eric Margolis [68]

As anticipated after Mao’s death, there was a power struggle for control of China. On one side was the left wing led by the Gang of Four, who wanted to continue the policy of revolutionary mass mobilization. On the other side was the right wing opposing these policies. Among the latter group, the restorationists, led by Chairman Hua Guofeng, advocated a return to central planning along the Soviet model, whereas the reformers, led by Deng Xiaoping, wanted to overhaul the Chinese economy based on market-oriented policies and to de-emphasize the role of Maoist ideology in determining economic and political policy. Eventually, the reformers won control of the government. Deng Xiaoping, with clear seniority over Hua Guofeng, defeated Hua in a bloodless power struggle a few years later.

Mao is regarded as a national hero of China. In 2008, China opened the Mao Zedong Square to visitors in his hometown of central Hunan Province to mark the 115th anniversary of his birth.[69][70]

Mao's official portrait at the Tiananmen gate.

Supporters of Mao credit him[citation needed] with advancing the social and economic development of Chinese society. They point out that before 1949, for instance, the illiteracy rate in Mainland China was 80%, and life expectancy was a meager 35 years. At his death, illiteracy had declined to less than seven percent, and average life expectancy had increased to more than 70 years (alternative statistics also quote improvements, though not nearly as dramatic). In addition to these increases, the total population of China increased 57% to 700 million, from the constant 400 million mark during the span between the Opium War and the Chinese Civil War.

Supporters also state that, under Mao's government, China ended its "Century of Humiliation" from Western and Japanese imperialism and regained its status as a major world power. They also state their belief that Mao also industrialized China to a considerable extent and ensured China's sovereignty during his rule. Many, including some of Mao's supporters, view the Kuomintang, which Mao drove off the mainland, as having been corrupt.

They also argue[citation needed] that the Maoist era improved women's rights by abolishing prostitution and foot binding. The latter prohibition however made little sense since foot-binding was no longer practised by the 1920s, and, as early as 1906, a Qing decree was encouraging a ban on the practice. At about the same time, groups in China's provinces were militating for the condition of women, half a century before Mao.[71][72] Prostitution returned after Deng Xiaoping and post-Maoist CPC leaders increased liberalization of the economy. Mao also created reforms that allowed women to initiate divorce and inherit property. Indeed, Mao once famously remarked that "Women hold up half the heavens". A popular slogan during the Cultural Revolution was, "Break the chains, unleash the fury of women as a mighty force for revolution!"

Skeptics observe[citation needed] that similar gains in literacy and life expectancy occurred after 1949 on the small neighboring island of Taiwan, which was ruled by Mao's opponents, namely Chiang Kai-Shek and the Kuomintang, even though they themselves perpetrated substantial violent repression in their own right. The government that continued to rule Taiwan was composed of the same people ruling the Mainland for over 20 years when life expectancy was so low, yet life expectancy there also increased.

A counterpoint, however, is that the United States helped Taiwan with aid, along with Japan and other countries, until the early 1960s when Taiwan asked that the aid cease. The mainland was under economic sanctions from the same countries for many years. The mainland also broke with the USSR after disputes, which had been aiding it. In addition, there is considerable difference in magnitude between increasing the literacy and lifespan of a nation of less than 20 million people (Taiwan) and a nation of nearly a billion people.

Another comparison has been between India and China. Noam Chomsky commented on a study by the Indian economist Amartya Sen.

He observes that India and China had "similarities that were quite striking" when development planning began 50 years ago, including death rates. "But there is little doubt that as far as morbidity, mortality and longevity are concerned, China has a large and decisive lead over India" (in education and other social indicators as well). In both cases, the outcomes have to do with the "ideological predispositions" of the political systems: for China, relatively equitable distribution of medical resources, including rural health services and public distribution of food, all lacking in India.[73]

There continue to be disagreements on Mao's legacy. Some historians claim that Mao Zedong was a dictator comparable to Hitler and Stalin,[74][75] with a death toll surpassing both.[3][4] Mao was also frequently compared to China's First Emperor Qin Shi Huang, notorious for burying alive hundreds of scholars, and liked the comparison.[76] During a speech to party cadre in 1958, Mao said he had far outdone Qin Shi Huang in his policy against intellectuals: "He buried 460 scholars alive; we have buried forty-six thousand scholars alive... You [intellectuals] revile us for being Qin Shi Huangs. You are wrong. We have surpassed Qin Shi Huang a hundredfold."[77]

Mao's English interpreter Sidney Rittenberg, who remains the only American ever to be admitted into the Chinese Communist Party, was himself imprisoned in solitary confinement for a total of 16 years during the power struggles of Mao's rule. However, in his memoir The Man Who Stayed Behind, Rittenberg states that he believes Mao never intended to cause the deaths and suffering endured by people under his chairmanship. In his remarks on the matter Rittenberg has declared that Mao "was a great leader in history, and also a great criminal because, not that he wanted to, not that he intended to, but in fact, his wild fantasies led to the deaths of tens of millions of people."[67] Li Rui, Mao's personal secretary, goes further and claims he was dismissive of the suffering and death caused by his policies: "Mao's way of thinking and governing was terrifying. He put no value on human life. The deaths of others meant nothing to him."[78]

The United States placed a trade embargo on China as a result of its involvement in the Korean War, lasting until Richard Nixon decided that developing relations with China would be useful in also dealing with the Soviet Union.

Mao's military writings continue to have a large amount of influence both among those who seek to create an insurgency and those who seek to crush one, especially in manners of guerrilla warfare, at which Mao is popularly regarded as a genius. As an example, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) followed Mao's examples of guerrilla warfare to considerable political and military success even in the 21st century.

However, Mao's major contribution to the military science is his theory of People's War, with not only Guerrilla warfare but more importantly, Mobile Warfare methodologies. Mao had successfully applied Mobile Warfare in the Korean War, and was able to encircle, push back and then halt the UN forces in Korea, despite the overwhelming strength of UN firepower.

Mao's poems and writings are frequently cited by both Chinese and non-Chinese. The official Chinese translation of President Barack Obama's inauguration speech used a famous line from one of Mao's poems.[79] John McCain misattributed a campaign quote to Mao several times during his 2008 presidential election bid, saying "Remember the words of Chairman Mao: 'It's always darkest before it's totally black.'"

The ideology of Maoism has influenced many communists around the world, including Third World revolutionary movements such as Cambodia's Khmer Rouge,[80] Peru's Shining Path, and the revolutionary movement in Nepal. The Revolutionary Communist Party, USA also claims Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as its ideology, as do other Communist Parties around the world which are part of the Revolutionary Internationalist Movement. China itself has moved sharply away from Maoism since Mao's death, and most people outside of China who describe themselves as Maoist regard the Deng Xiaoping reforms to be a betrayal of Maoism, in line with Mao's view of "Capitalist roaders" within the Communist Party.

As the Chinese government instituted free market economic reforms starting in the late 1970s and as later Chinese leaders took power, less recognition was given to the status of Mao. This accompanied a decline in state recognition of Mao in later years in contrast to previous years when the state organized numerous events and seminars commemorating Mao's 100th birthday. Nevertheless, the Chinese government has never officially repudiated the tactics of Mao.

In the mid-1990s, Mao Zedong's picture began to appear on all new renminbi currency from the People’s Republic of China. This was officially instituted as an anti-counterfeiting measure as Mao's face is widely recognized in contrast to the generic figures that appear in older currency. On 13 March 2006, a story in the People's Daily reported that a proposal had been made to print the portraits of Sun Yat-sen and Deng Xiaoping.[81]

In 2006, the government in Shanghai issued a new set of high school history textbooks which omit Mao, with the exception of a single mention in a section on etiquette. Students in Shanghai now only learn about Mao in junior high school.[82]


Mao Zedong had several wives who contributed to a large family. These were:

  1. Luo Yixiu (罗一秀, 1889–1910) of Shaoshan: married 1907 to 1910
  2. Yang Kaihui (杨开慧, 1901–1930) of Changsha: married 1921 to 1927, executed by the KMT in 1930
  3. He Zizhen (贺子珍, 1910–1984) of Jiangxi: married May 1928 to 1939
  4. Jiang Qing: (江青, 1914–1991), married 1939 to Mao's death

His ancestors were:

  • Wen Qimei (文七妹, 1867–1919), mother. She was illiterate and a devout Buddhist. She was a descendant of Wen Tianxiang.
  • Mao Yichang (毛贻昌, 1870–1920), father, courtesy name Mao Shunsheng (毛顺生) or also known as Mao Jen-sheng
  • Mao Enpu (毛恩普), paternal grandfather
  • Mao Zuren (毛祖人), paternal great-grandfather

He had several siblings:

  • Mao Zemin (毛泽民, 1895–1943), younger brother, executed by a warlord
  • Mao Zetan (毛泽覃, 1905–1935), younger brother, executed by the KMT
  • Mao Zejian (毛泽建, 1905–1929), adopted sister, executed by the KMT
Mao Zedong's parents altogether had six sons and two daughters. Two of the sons and both daughters died young, leaving the three brothers Mao Zedong, Mao Zemin, and Mao Zetan. Like all three of Mao Zedong's wives, Mao Zemin and Mao Zetan were communists. Like Yang Kaihui, both Zemin and Zetan were killed in warfare during Mao Zedong's lifetime.

Note that the character ze (泽) appears in all of the siblings' given names. This is a common Chinese naming convention.

From the next generation, Zemin's son, Mao Yuanxin, was raised by Mao Zedong's family. He became Mao Zedong's liaison with the Politburo in 1975. Sources like Li Zhisui (The Private Life of Chairman Mao) say that he played a role in the final power-struggles.[83]

Mao Zedong had several children:

  • Mao Anying (毛岸英): son to Yang, married to Liu Siqi (刘思齐), who was born Liu Songlin (刘松林), killed in action during the Korean War
  • Mao Anqing (1923–2007): son to Yang, married to Shao Hua (邵华), son Mao Xinyu (毛新宇), grandson Mao Dongdong.
  • Li Min (李敏): daughter to He, married to Kong Linghua (孔令华), son Kong Ji'ning (孔继宁), daughter Kong Dongmei (孔冬梅)
  • Li Na (Chinese:李讷; Pinyin: Lĭ Nà): daughter to Jiang (whose birth given name was Li, a name also used by Mao while evading the KMT), married to Wang Jingqing (王景清), son Wang Xiaozhi (王效芝)

Sources suggest that Mao did have other children during his revolutionary days; some died, but in most of these cases the children were left with peasant families because it was difficult to take care of the children while focusing on revolution. Two English researchers who retraced the entire Long March route in 2002–2003[84] located a woman whom they believe might well be a missing child abandoned by Mao to peasants in 1935. Ed Jocelyn and Andrew McEwen hope a member of the Mao family will respond to requests for a DNA test.[85] It has been confirmed that Yang Kaihui had given birth to three children while with Mao and He Zizhen had six, most probably all Mao's.

Personal life

There are few academic sources discussing Mao's private life, which was very secretive at the time of his rule. However, and particularly after Mao's death, there has been an influx of publications on his personal life, as an example The Private Life of Chairman Mao by his physician Li Zhisui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao claims he had chain smoked cigarettes, had poor dental hygiene, causing his teeth to be colored green (it was also claimed that he rubbed Green Tea on his teeth instead of more commonly used dental hygiene methods, giving his teeth a distinctly green color) and generally lived a life of deviancy and excess.

Writings and calligraphy

Mao's calligraphy: The People's Republic of China: all nationalities unite. Mao Zedong. (Chinese: 中华人民共和国各民族团结起来 毛泽东 Zhōnghuárénmíngònghéguó gè mínzú tuánjié qǐ lái – Máo Zédōng)

Mao was a prolific writer of political and philosophical literature.[86] Mao is the attributed author of Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, known in the West as the "Little Red Book" and in Cultural-revolution China as the "Red Treasure Book" (红宝书): this is a collection of short extracts from his speeches and articles, edited by Lin Biao and ordered topically. Mao wrote several other philosophical treatises, both before and after he assumed power. These include:

  • On Guerrilla Warfare; 1937
  • On Practice (《实践论》); 1937
  • On Contradiction (《矛盾论》); 1937
  • On Protracted War (《论持久战》); 1938
  • In Memory of Norman Bethune (《纪念白求恩》); 1939
  • On New Democracy (《新民主主义论》); 1940
  • Talks at the Yan'an Forum on Literature and Art (《在延安文艺座谈会上的讲话》); 1942
  • Serve the People (《为人民服务》); 1944
  • The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains (《愚公移山》); 1945
  • On the Correct Handling of the Contradictions Among the People (《正确处理人民内部矛盾问题》); 1957

Mao was also a skilled calligrapher with a highly personal style. In China, Mao was considered a master calligrapher during his lifetime.[87] His calligraphy can be seen today throughout mainland China.[88] His work gave rise to a new form of Chinese calligraphy called "Mao-style" or Maoti, which has gained increasing popularity since his death. There currently exist various competitions specializing in Mao-style calligraphy.[89]

Literary figure

Politics aside, Mao is considered one of modern China's most influential literary figures, and was an avid poet, mainly in the classical ci and shi forms. His poems are all in the traditional Chinese verse style.

As did most Chinese intellectuals of his generation, Mao received rigorous education in Chinese classical literature. His style was deeply influenced by the great Tang Dynasty poets Li Bai and Li He. He is considered to be a romantic poet, in contrast to the realist poets represented by Du Fu.

Many of Mao's poems are still popular in China and a few are taught as a mandatory part of the elementary school curriculum. Some of his most well-known poems are: Changsha (1925), The Double Ninth (1929.10), Loushan Pass (1935), The Long March (1935), Snow (1936.02), The PLA Captures Nanjing (1949.04), Reply to Li Shuyi (1957.05.11), and Ode to the Plum Blossom (1961.12).

See also


  1. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 630. ISBN 0805066381. "Mao had an extraordinary mix of talents: he was visionary, statesman, political and military strategist of cunning intellect, a philosopher and poet." 
  2. ^ Death Toll Median Average Estimates of 14 Sources = 45.75 – 52.5 million people Which include the books: Le Livre Noir du Communism by Stephane Courtois, Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine by Jasper Becker, China's Changing Population by Judith Banister, Contemporary Chinese Population by Wang Weizhi, Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang, Victims of Politics by Kurt Glaser, How to Prevent Genocide by John Heidenrich, Mao's China and After by Maurice Meisner, The Human Cost of Communism in China by Robert L. Walker. Along with reports by Agence France Press (1999), Dictionary of 20 Century World History, Guinness Book of World Records, Washington Post (1994), and the Weekly Standard (1997)
  3. ^ a b Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 631. ISBN 0805066381. ; Chang, Jung and Halliday, Jon. Mao: The Unknown Story. Jonathan Cape, London, 2005. ISBN 0-224-07126-2 p. 3; Rummel, R. J. China’s Bloody Century: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900 Transaction Publishers, 1991. ISBN 0-88738-417-X p. 205: In light of recent evidence, Rummel has increased Mao's democide toll to 77 million; Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity. PublicAffairs, 2009. ISBN 1586487698 p. 53: "...the Chinese communists' murdering of a mind-boggling number of people, perhaps between 50 million and 70 million Chinese, and an additional 1.2 million Tibetans."
  4. ^ a b Fenby, Jonathan. Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850 to the Present. Ecco, 2008. ISBN 0-06-166116-3 p. 351"Mao’s responsibility for the extinction of anywhere from 40 to 70 million lives brands him as a mass killer greater than Hitler or Stalin, his indifference to the suffering and the loss of humans breathtaking."
  5. ^ "Mao Zedong". The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  6. ^ Time 100: Mao Zedong By Jonathan D. Spence, 13 April 1998.
  7. ^ Feigon, Lee (2002). Mao: A Reinterpretation. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. p. 17. ISBN 1566635225. 
  8. ^ Hollingworth, Clare, Mao and the men against him (Jonathan Cape, London: 1985), p. 45.
  9. ^ Chang, Jung; Jon, Halliday (2006). Mao: The Unknown Story. Magazine Publishing (Hong Kong). ISBN 9627934194. 
  10. ^ "毛泽东生平大事(1893–1976)".  (Major event chronology of Mao Zedong (1893–1976), People's Daily
  11. ^ a b "'Report on an investigation of the peasant movement in Hunan' Mao Zedong 1927". 
  12. ^ Chunhou, Zhang. C. Mao Zedong As Poet and Revolutionary Leader: Social and Historical Perspectives. ISBN 0739104063. 
  13. ^ "'Analysis of the classes in Chinese society' Mao Zedong 1927.". 
  14. ^ Lynch, Michael J (2004). Mao. ISBN 0415215773. 
  15. ^ a b c Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. pp. 272–274. ISBN 0805066381. 
  16. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 279. ISBN 0805066381. 
  17. ^ Jean-Luc Domenach. Chine: L'archipel oublie. (China: The Forgotten Archipelago.) Fayard, 1992. ISBN 2-213-02581-9 pg 47
  18. ^ ao Zedong,
  19. ^ Fairbank, John K; Albert Feuerwerker. The Cambridge History of China (vol. 13, pt. 2). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521243386. 
  20. ^ Ying-kwong Wou, Odoric (1994). Mobilizing the Masses: Building Revolution in Henan. Stanford University Press. ISBN 0804721424. 
  21. ^ On Protracted War
  22. ^ "Willy Lam: China's Own Historical Revisionism", History News Network, 11 August 2005. Retrieved 15 May 2006.
  23. ^ "China Is Wordless on Traumas of Communists’ Rise". New York Times. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  24. ^ The famous Mao slogan, that he never even used, SCMP, Sep 25, 2009
  25. ^ Burkitt, Laurie; Scobell, Andrew; Wortzel, Larry M. (July 2003), The lessons of history: The Chinese people's Liberation Army at 75, Strategic Studies Institute, pp. 340–341, ISBN 1-58487-126-1, 
  26. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. pp. 436–437. ISBN 0805066381. 
  27. ^ a b Yang Kuisong. Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries The China Quarterly, 193, March 2008, pp.102–121. PDF file.
  28. ^ Steven W. Mosher. China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality. Basic Books, 1992. ISBN 0-465-09813-4 pp 72, 73
  29. ^ Stephen Rosskamm Shalom. Deaths in China Due to Communism. Center for Asian Studies Arizona State University, 1984. ISBN 0-939252-11-2 pg 24
  30. ^ Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. Mao: The Unknown Story. pg 337: "Mao claimed that the total number executed was 700,000 but this did not include those beaten or tortured to death in the post-1949 land reform, which would at the very least be as many again. Then there were suicides, which, based on several local inquiries, were very probably about equal to the number of those killed." Also cited in Mao Zedong, by Jonathan Spence, as cited [1]. Mao got this number from a report submitted by Xu Zirong, Deputy Public Security Minister, which stated 712,000 counterrevolutionaries were executed, 1,290,000 were imprisoned, and another 1,200,000 were "subjected to control.": Yang Kuisong. Reconsidering the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries The China Quarterly, 193, March 2008, pp.102–121. PDF file.
  31. ^ a b Twitchett, Denis; John K. Fairbank, Roderick MacFarquhar. The Cambridge history of China. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052124336X.,+and+usually+several,+in+virtually+every+village+for+public+execution&ei=wP14R6muKIi0iQHR4ezAAQ&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=9REVjFOEIx_4TIMFixd7fhgC9FY. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  32. ^ Maurice Meisner. Mao's China and After: A History of the People's Republic, Third Edition. Free,Press, 1999. ISBN 0684856352 p. 72: "...the estimate of many relatively impartial observers that there were 2,000,000 people executed during the first three years of the People's Republic is probably as accurate a guess as one can make on the basis of scanty information."
  33. ^ Steven W. Mosher. China Misperceived: American Illusions and Chinese Reality. Basic Books, 1992. ISBN 0465098134 pg 74: "...a figure that Fairbank has cited as the upper range of "sober" estimates."
  34. ^ Lee Feigon. Mao: A Reinterpretation. Ivan R. Dee, 2002. ISBN 1566635225 p. 96: "By 1952 they had extended land reform throughout the countryside, but in the process somewhere between two and five million landlords had been killed."
  35. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. pp. 436. ISBN 0805066381.,+purpose-built+to+accommodate+them&ei=L_54R6eOFYq-igG72-2XCA&ie=ISO-8859-1&sig=lJa-WxMPEygPOSBdsIoT13cmSHY. 
  36. ^ a b Benjamin A. Valentino. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century Cornell University Press, 2004. pp. 121–122. ISBN 0801439655
  37. ^ Changyu, Li. "Mao's "Killing Quotas." Human Rights in China (HRIC). 26 September 2005, at Shandong University" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-21. 
  38. ^ Brown, Jeremy. "Terrible Honeymoon: Struggling with the Problem of Terror in Early 1950s China.". 
  39. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 437. ISBN 0805066381. 
  40. ^ "High Tide of Terror". Time Magazine. 5 March 1956.,9171,808241-5,00.html. Retrieved 2009-05-11. 
  41. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 631. ISBN 0805066381.,M1. 
  42. ^ Chang, Jung; Halliday, Jon. 2005. Mao: The Unknown Story. New York: Knopf. 410.
  43. ^ a b Jasper Becker. Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine. Holt Paperbacks, 1998. ISBN 0805056688 p. 81
  44. ^ Jasper Becker. Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine. Holt Paperbacks, 1998. ISBN 0805056688 p. 86
  45. ^ Jasper Becker. Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine. Holt Paperbacks, 1998. ISBN 0805056688 p. 93
  46. ^ Benjamin A. Valentino. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century Cornell University Press, 2004. p. 128. ISBN 0801439655
  47. ^ Jasper Becker. Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine. Holt Paperbacks, 1998. ISBN 0805056688 p. 103
  48. ^ Jasper Becker. Hungry Ghosts: Mao's Secret Famine. Holt Paperbacks, 1998. ISBN 0805056688 pp. 92–93
  49. ^ Benjamin A. Valentino. Final Solutions: Mass Killing and Genocide in the Twentieth Century Cornell University Press, 2004. p. 127. ISBN 0801439655
  50. ^ a b Mark O'Neill. A hunger for the truth: A new book, banned on the mainland, is becoming the definitive account of the Great Famine. South China Morning Post, 2008-7-6.
  51. ^ Short, Philip (2001). Mao: A Life. Owl Books. p. 761. 
  52. ^ a b "Source List and Detailed Death Tolls for the Twentieth Century Hemoclysm". Historical Atlas of the Twentieth Century. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  53. ^ a b c Chang, Jung and Jon Halliday, Mao: The Unknown Story (2006), pp. 568, 579.
  54. ^ Mao a Reinterpretation by Lee Feigon, page 140
  55. ^ For a full treatment of this idea see- Mobo Gao, "The Battle for China's Past", Pluto Press, London, 2008
  56. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick; Schoenhals, Michael (2006). Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press. pp. 110. ISBN 0674023323. 
  57. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael. Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press, 2006. p. 125
  58. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael. Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press, 2006. p. 124
  59. ^ Ion Mihai Pacepa (28 November 2006). "The Kremlin’s Killing Ways". National Review Online. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  60. ^ Daniel Chirot. Modern tyrants: the power and prevalence of evil in our age. Princeton University Press, 1996. ISBN 0691027773 p. 198
  61. ^ a b For a lengthy discussion on this topic see Mobo Gao, "The Battle for China's Past", Pluto Press, London, 2008; and Lee Feigon "Mao a Reinterpretation" 2002
  62. ^ "China After Mao's Death: Nation of Rumor and Uncertainty". New York Times. 6 October 1976. "Hong Kong, 5 October 1976. With no word on the fate of the body of Mao Zedong, almost a month after his death, rumors are beginning to percolate in China, much as they did following the death of Prime Minister Chou En-lai..." 
  63. ^ "Cult of Mao". Retrieved 2008-08-23. "This remark of Mao seems to have elements of truth but it is false. He confuses the worship of truth with a personality cult, despite there being an essential difference between them. But this remark played a role in helping to promote the personality cult that gradually arose in the CCP." 
  64. ^ a b Chapter 5: "Mao Badges – Visual Imagery and Inscriptions" in: Helen Wang: Chairman Mao badges: symbols and Slogans of the Cultural Revolution (British Museum Research Publication 169). The Trustees of the British Museum, 2008. ISBN 978 086159 169 5.
  65. ^ In "The East is Red" (东方红), an anthem that wasq popular during the Cultural Revolution. See lyrics and English translation at or Accessed 2009-08-24.
  66. ^ a b 韶山升起永远不落的红太阳
  67. ^ a b Granddaughter Keeps Mao's Memory Alive in Bookshop by Maxim Duncan, Reuters, September 28, 2009
  68. ^ Remembering China's Great Helmsman by Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, September 29, 2009
  69. ^ Chairman Mao square opened on his 115th birth anniversary
  70. ^ Mao Zedong still draws crowds on 113th birth anniversary
  71. ^ Mitter, Rana (2009). Modern China. Oxford University Press. p. 78. 
  72. ^ Fenby, Jonathan (2009). The Penguin History of Modern China: The Fall and Rise of a Great Power, 1850–2009. Penguin Books. pp. 96–97. 
  73. ^ "Counting the Bodies — Noam Chomsky". Spectrezine (Spectre Magazine online). Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  74. ^ Michael Lynch. Mao (Routledge Historical Biographies). Routledge, 2004. p. 230: "The People’s Republic of China under Mao exhibited the oppressive tendencies that were discernible in all the major absolutist regimes of the twentieth century. There are obvious parallels between Mao’s China, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. Each of these regimes witnessed deliberately ordered mass ‘cleansing’ and extermination."
  75. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael. Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-674-02332-3 p. 471: "Together with Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler, Mao appears destined to go down in history as one of the great tyrants of the twentieth century."
  76. ^ MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael. Mao's Last Revolution. Harvard University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-674-02332-3 p. 428
  77. ^ Mao Zedong sixiang wan sui! (1969), p. 195. Referenced in Governing China: From Revolution to Reform (Second Edition) by Kenneth Lieberthal. W.W. Norton & Co., 2003. ISBN 0393924920 p. 71
  78. ^ Jonathan Watts. China must confront dark past, says Mao confidant The Guardian, 2 June 2005
  79. ^ "奥巴马就职演说 引毛泽东诗词". People's Daily Online. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  80. ^ Jackson, Karl D. Cambodia, 1975–1978: Rendezvous with Death. Princeton University Press. p. 219. ISBN 069102541X. 
  81. ^ "Portraits of Sun Yat-sen, Deng Xiaoping proposed adding to RMB notes". People's Daily Online. 2006-03-13. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  82. ^ Kahn, Joseph (2006-09-02). "Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-28. 
  83. ^ Biographical Sketches in The Private Life of Chairman Mao
  84. ^ "Stepping into history". China Daily. 2003-11-23. Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  85. ^ The Long March, by Ed Jocelyn and Andrew McEwen. Constable 2006
  86. ^ "Stefan Landsberger's Chinese Propaganda Poster Pages-Mao Zedong Thought<!- Bot generated title ->". Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  87. ^ "100 years<!- Bot generated title ->". Retrieved 2008-08-23. 
  88. ^ Yen, Yuehping (2005). Calligraphy and Power in Contemporary Chinese Society. Routledge. p. 2. 
  89. ^ "首届毛体书法邀请赛精品纷呈" (in Chinese). 2006-09-11. 

Further reading

Annotated writings

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Soviet Republic
1931 – 1934
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Chairman of the Council of People's Commissars of the Chinese Soviet Republic
1931 – 1934
Succeeded by
Zhang Wentian
Preceded by
Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
1949 – 1954
Succeeded by
Zhou Enlai
Preceded by
Chairman of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China
1949 – 1954
Succeeded by
(as Chairman of the People's Republic of China)
Preceded by
Chairman of the People's Revolutionary Military Council of the Central People's Government
1949 – 1954
Succeeded by
(Chair of National Defense Council as President of PRC)
Preceded by
(as Chairman of the Central People's Government)
President of the People's Republic of China
1954 – 1959
Succeeded by
Liu Shaoqi
Party political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission
1935 – 1976
Succeeded by
Hua Guofeng
Preceded by
Deng Fa
President of the CPC Central Party School
1942 – 1947
Succeeded by
Liu Shaoqi
Preceded by
Zhang Wentian
(as General Secretary)
Chairman of the Communist Party of China
1943 – 1976
Succeeded by
Hua Guofeng


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Let a hundred flowers bloom: let a hundred schools of thought contend.

Mao Zedong or Mao Tse-tung in Wade-Giles; Simplified Chinese 毛泽东 ; Traditional Chinese: 毛澤東 (1893-12-261976-09-09) was leader of the Communist Party of China.

All reactionaries are paper tigers...
Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.


On the suppression of counter-revolutionaries

  • 必须认真研究,周密部署大杀几批,才能初步解决问题,天津准备今年一年内杀一千五百人,四月底以前先杀五百人,完成这个计划,我们就有了主动,我希望上海、南京、青岛、广州、武汉及其它大中城市都有一个几个月至今年年底的切实肃反计划,都能大杀几批……」
    • 毛泽东。中央转发北京市委镇反计划的批语(1951年2月25日)建国以来毛泽东文稿:第二册.

Translation: Serious research must be done, carefully plan to kill some large groups, then can solve some initial problems, Tianjing is planning to kill 1500 people within this year, kill 500 first before April, once this plan is accomplished, we have the upper hand, I hope Shanghai, Nanjing, Tsengdao, Kwangzhou, Wuhan plus other large and middle cities do have solid plans to kill some large groups of people. Source:Mao Zedong:Comments on the Beijing City committee counter-revolutionaries suppression plan(1951.2.25) Mao Zedong Works Volumn2

  • 南京是一個50萬人口的大城市,國民黨的首都...南京殺人太少,應在南京多殺.
    • 毛澤東《對上海南京鎮反工作的指示》,1951年2月12日。

Translation: Nanjing is a big city of 500,000, the capital Kuomintang...the number of people executed in Nanjing is too low, more people should be killed in Nanjing. Source:Mao Zedong:Instruction on the suppression of counter-revolutionaries work carried out in Shanghai and Nanking. 1951.2.12

On Japanese invasion

  • 誰想到我們能夠佔領大陸啊?(斯:你想到了。) (毛主席):想是想啊,但能不能佔領還不知道啊。要到佔領的那一天才算數嘛。後頭日本人又來了。所以我們說尼克森好就是這個道理。那些日本人實在好,中國革命沒有日本人幫忙是不行的。這個話我跟一個日本人講過,此人是個資本家,叫作南鄉三郎。他總是說:「對不起,侵略你們了。」我說:不,你們幫了大忙了,日本的軍國主義和日本天皇。你們佔領大半個中國,中國人民全都起來跟你們作鬥爭,我們搞了一個百萬軍隊,佔領了一億人口的地方,這不都是你們幫的忙嗎?
    • 會見斯諾的談話紀要(一九七○年十二月十八日)《建國以來毛澤東文稿》

Translation:Who could have thought of we were able to occupy mainland? (Snow:You did thought of it.) Oh, how I did long for it; still, I knew next to nothing about whether we were able to take over or not. My heart rested only only on the day we finally took over. Later on Japanese came again. This is why we said Richard Nixon is a good man. Those Japanese were real good, without Japanese's help, China's revolution would not have suceeded. I said the same thing to a Japanese, a capitalist, by the name of 南鄉三郎. He kept on saying:Sorry, we did invade China I said to him: Don't say that, on the contrary, Japanese helped us(communist) in a big way, especially Japanese warlords and the Japanese Emperor. Japanese occupied more than half of China, all the Chinese rose to fight you, we ended up having an army of one million soldiers, and 100 millions people were under our control, isn't it all because of your help?

    • Conversation with Edgar Snow(1970.12.18)
  • In the past Japanese warlords had occupied a large part of China. Because of that, the Chinese people had learned a lesson. Without Japan's invasion, the Chinese people would not be awakened, neither colluding nor uniting. In that case we [communists] would still stay in the mountains, let alone come to Beijing to watch the opera. Precisely because of the Japanese Imperial Army, which had occupied a large part of China, leaving the Chinese people nowhere to go, that once they understood they began taking up arm-struggle, resulting in the establishment of many counter-Japanese military bases, thus creating favourable conditions for the coming war of liberation. Japanese capitalist and warlords have done a good deed for us. If ever we need to say thank you, I would like to say Thank you to the Japanese war lords.
    • Speech on welcoming Japanese politicians (24 Jan 1961); the original text is in Japanese; the Chinese translation text is on talk page.
  • 有的人認為我們應該多抗日,才愛國,但那愛的是蔣介石的國,我們中國共產黨人祖國是全世界共產黨人共同的祖國即蘇維埃(蘇聯)。我們共產黨人的方針是,要讓日本軍隊多佔地,形成蔣、日、我,三國志,這樣的形勢對我們才有利,最糟糕的情況不過是日本人佔領了全中國,到時候我也還可以藉助蘇聯的力量打回來嘛!
    • 《毛泽东选集》人民出版社,1967年版.
    • Some people insisted that to show that we do love our nation, we should be more anti-Japanese; but then the nation belongs to Chiang Kai-shek. We communists, our motherland is the Soviet Union, the common motherland of the world's communists. The aim of we communists is to allow the Japanese to occupy more land. Then a power triangle will be formed, which consists of Chiang, the Japanese and us, which is the ideal situation. The worst come to the worst, if ever the Japanese occupy the whole of China, we would then still be able to fight back, with the help of the Soviet Union.
    • Original Chinese text (August 1937); Quotation from Mao Zedong: Selected Works (1967 edition) [specific citation needed]


  • 谁是我们的敌人?谁是我们的朋友?这个问题是革命的首要问题。
    • Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution.
    • Analysis of the Classes in Chinese Society (March 1926), Selected Works, Vol. I, p. 1.
  • 江山如此多娇,引无数英雄竞折腰。惜秦皇汉武,略输文采;唐宗宋祖,稍逊风骚。一代天骄,成吉思汗,只识弯弓射大雕。俱往矣,数风流人物,还看今朝。
    • The country is so beautiful, where so many heroes had devoted their lives into it. Sorry that the Qin Emperor or the Han Wu Emperor lacks a sense for literacy; while the founders of the Tang and Song dynasties came short in style. The great man, Genghis Khan, only knew how to shoot eagles with an arrow. The past is past. To see real heroes, look around you.
    • Qinyuanchun - Snow(沁园春•雪) (1936)
  • 革命的集体组织中的自由主义是十分有害的。它是一种腐蚀剂,使团结涣散,关系松懈,工作消极,意见分歧。它使革命队伍失掉严密的组织和纪律,政策不能贯彻到底,党的组织和党所领导的群众发生隔离。这是一种严重的恶劣倾向。
    • Liberalism is extremely harmful in a revolutionary collective. It is a corrosive which eats away unity, undermines cohesion, causes apathy and creates dissension. It robs the revolutionary ranks of compact organization and strict discipline, prevents policies from being carried through and alienates the Party organizations from the masses which the Party leads. It is an extremely bad tendency.
    • "Combat Liberalism" (7 September 1937), later quoted in Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (The Little Red Book) (1964), Ch. 24.
  • 一切反动派都是纸老虎。看起来反动派的样子是可怕的,但是实际上并没有什么了不起的力量。从长远的观点看问题,真正强大的力量不是属于反动派,而是属于人民。
    • All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful.
    • Talk with the American Correspondent Anna Louise Strong (August 1946), Selected Works, Vol. IV, p. 100.
  • "You are dictatorial." My dear sirs, you are right, that is just what we are. All the experience the Chinese people have accumulated through several decades teaches us to enforce the people's democratic dictatorship, that is, to deprive the reactionaries of the right to speak and let the people alone have that right.
  • 斯大林是我们最伟大的慈父与导师,我谨以中国人民和中国共产党的名义庆祝斯大林同志的七十寿辰,祝福他的健康与长寿!全世界工人阶级和国际共产主义运动的领袖——伟大的斯大林万岁!
    • Stalin is our greatest father and teacher. In the name of Chinese people and Chinese Communist Party, we celebrate comrade Stalin's seventy birthday. May he be in the best health and live a long life! Leader of both the world's working class and Communist Internationale — Ten thousand years of life to Stalin!
    • Speech on the seventieth birthday of Stalin (21 December 1949)
  • 百花齐放,百家争鸣 (Simplified Chinese), 百花齊放,百家爭鳴 (Traditional Chinese), bǎihuāqífàng, bǎijiāzhēngmíng (Pinyin)
    • Let a hundred flowers bloom: let a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.
    • Slogan used at the start of the Hundred Flowers Campaign of open criticism of the communist government that began in late 1956 and ended in July 1957.
  • Ours is a people's democratic dictatorship, led by the working class and based on the worker-peasant alliance.
    • On the Correct Handling of Contradiction (1957)
  • 假如办十件事,九件是坏的,都登在报上,一定灭亡。那我就走,到农村去,率领农民推翻政府,你解放军不跟我走,我就找红军去。【在庐山会议上的讲话(1959年7月23日)】
    • If we did ten things, nine were bad and got disclosed by the newspapers, we will be over. Then I will go, to the countryside, lead the peasant and revolt. If the Liberation Army do not follow me, I will get the Red Army. (July 23, 1959)
    • Speech at the Lushan Conference (23 July 1959)
  • All the rest of the world uses the word "electricity." They've borrowed the word from English. But we Chinese have our own word for it!
    • Quoted in Khrushchev Remembers (1970), p. 474
  • Maybe you're afraid of sinking. Don't think about it. If you don't think about it, you won't sink. If you do, you will.
  • Politics is war without bloodshed, while war is politics with bloodshed.
    • Quoted in The Logic of Violence in Civil War (2006) by Stathis N. Kalyvas, p. 38
  • A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.
    • Quoted in The Tyrants : 2500 Years of Absolute Power and Corruption (2006) by Clive Foss, p. 155 ISBN 1905204965
  • People who try to commit suicide — don't attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people.
    • As quoted in Mao's Last Revolution (2006) by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, ISBN 0674023323
  • This man Hitler was even more ferocious. The more ferocious the better, don't you think? The more people you kill, the more revolutionary you are.
    • Quoted in Mao's Last Revolution (2006) by Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, p. 102

Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong (The Little Red Book)(1964)

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
  • 不怕打,一聽打仗我就高興,北京算什麼打?無非冷兵器,開了幾槍。四川才算打,雙方都有幾萬人,有槍有炮,聽說還有無線電。
    • Translation: On Cultural Revolution Red Guards fighting among themselves: Not afraid of war, I am always happy upon knowing that there are people fighting among themselves. What happened at Beijing was nothing! Using some swords or spears, maybe firing a few shots. Sichuan was something: tens of thousands people were involved with guns and canons, even wireless.
  • 凡是敵人反對的,我們就要擁護;凡是敵人擁護的,我們就要反對。
    • We shall support whatever our enemies oppose and oppose whatever our enemies support.
    • Chapter 2
  • 枪杆子里面出政权
    • Every Communist must grasp the truth:Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
    • Chapter 5
The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.
  • 美国垄断资本集团如果坚持推行它的侵略政策和战争政策,势必有一天要被全世界人民处以刑。其他美国帮凶也将是这样。
    • If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world. The same fate awaits the accomplices of the United States.
    • Chapter 6
  • 革命战争是群众的战争,只有动员群众才能进行战争,只有依靠群众才能进行战争。
    • The revolutionary war is a war of the masses; it can be waged only by mobilizing the masses and relying on them.
    • Chapter 8
  • 没有一个人民的军队,便没有人民的一切。
    • Without an army for the people, there is nothing for the people.
    • Chapter 9
  • 我们的原则是党指挥枪,而决不容许枪指挥党。
    • Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.
    • Chapter 9
  • 下定决心,不怕牺牲,排除万难,去争取胜利。
    • Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory.
    • Chapter 19
  • 要使文艺很好地成为整个革命机器的一个组成部分,作为团结人民、教育人民、打击敌人、消灭敌人的有力的武器,帮助人民同心同德地和敌人作斗争。
    • [Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.
    • Chapter 32


  • (論國民黨) 有很多的頑固分子,他們是頑固專門學校畢業的。他們今天頑固,明天頑固,後天還是頑固。什麼叫頑固?固者硬也,頑者,今天、明天、後天都不進步之謂也。這樣的人,就叫做頑固分子。要使這樣的頑固分子聽我們的話,不是一件容易的事情。
    • (Referring to the Kuomintang) There are many stubborn element, graduates in the specialty schools of stubbornness. They are stubborn today, they will be stubborn tomorrow, and they will be stubborn the day after tomorrow. What is stubbornness (huan'gu)? Gu is to be stiff. Huan is to not progress: not today, nor tomorrow, nor they day after tomorrow. People like that are called the stubborn elements. It is not an easy thing to make the stubborn elements listen to our words.
    • 《新民主主义的宪政》《毛泽东选集》第二卷 Selected Works of Mao Zedong [specific citation needed]


  • It's always darkest before it's totally black.
    • This is a humorous misattribution that US Senator John McCain has sometimes used since at least January 2000, but there is no indication that Mao actually ever made such a comment, which is a joke referencing the common English proverb "It's always darkest before the dawn." It has also been humorously misattributed to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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  • From the historical figure Mao Zedong (毛泽东 - Máo Zédōng), the Chinese communist revolutionary leader.


Mao Zedong

Mao Zedongs

Mao Zedong (plural Mao Zedongs)

  1. A revolutionary leader, particularly a communist, socialist, or major reformist. Sometimes used figuratively in non-political contexts.
    • 1985, Roger Lichtenberg Simon, California Roll: A Moses Wine Detective Novel, Villard Books, ISBN 0394537114, pg. 69:
      "And the Lenin, the Mao Zedong, of this revolution," continued Brisbane, "is sitting among us tonight."
    • 1990, Endymion Porter Wilkinson, Japan versus the West: image and reality, Penguin Books, ISBN 0140126368, pg. 137:
      Yoshida Tabuchi, known as the 'Mao Zedong of Nomura' - in part because of a slight physical resemblance … but more because like Mao, Tabuchi wields…
    • 2000, K.S. Bharathi, Mahatma Gandhi: Man of the millennium, S. Chand, ISBN 8121919975, pg. 59:
      His thirty year role as the 'Mao Zedong' of India ended with the partition of India into India, and Pakistan, as the Super Powers divided up the Middle East.
    • 2001, Ronald S. Jonash and Tom Sommerlatte, The Innovation Premium: How Next Generation Companies Are Achieving Peak Performance and Profitability, Da Capo Press, ISBN 0738203602, pg. 30:
      In fact, CEO Levin has been called the Mao Zedong of biotech, eager to buy or use other people's technology to facilitate what he believes should be a continuous revolution in both technology and organization.
    • 2007, Peter Popham, "Gaddafi turns screenwriter for $40m epic about Italian invasion," The Independent, 3 November 2007, [1]:
      Thirty years ago with his little Green Book and his "Third Universal Theory", he proposed himself as the Mao Zedong of the Middle East, fashioning what he claimed to be a new ideology from the patriarchal customs of his clan.



Proper noun

Mao Zedong (Pinyin Máo Zédōng, traditional 毛澤東, simplified 毛泽东)

  1. Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893–September 9, 1976)

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Simple English

[[File:|thumb|Mao Zedong in 1935]]

Mao Zedong (December 26, 1893September 9, 1976) was a Chinese Communist leader. He was the leader of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. People have different opinions about Mao. The reasons people have called him bad are because they blame him for millions of Chinese deaths, and say that he was not skilled at running the government. They also say that he was impatient and would not wait for things he wanted to achieve. But people who agreed with Mao's Chinese Communist group say that he was a hero, who helped women and peasants gain rights. They also say that he saved China from foreign rule.



Mao was born on December 26, 1893 in the Hunan province of China. He grew up in a farming family, and became a Communist while working at a library. Throughout the 1920's, his power increased, or became larger, in the Communist Party of China, and by 1933, he was its leader. During the 1920s, the group began to fight with rival Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek and his group, the Kuomintang. This fight was called the Chinese Civil War. Mao said that Chiang is corrupt and is unfit to rule China. Mao also wanted to make China follow communism, a way of thinking that opposed private property and supported common ownership.

Chiang Kai-shek's group, the Nationalists, had more fighters in 1935. They beat Mao's Communists and made them move out of the country. The Communists left to a fort that they owned. This move was called the Long March. Mao escaped from the Nationalists with other Communists to a part of China called Yenan. By this time, in 1935, the Chinese Civil War caused 500,000 deaths.

When Japan invaded China in 1937, Mao and Chiang stopped fighting. The United States defeated Japan in 1945 and made the Japanese Army leave China. The Chinese Civil War had been stopped during World War II, but after the war it became very violent. Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists had supporters in the cities and among the middle class. Mao and the Communists had many supporters in the farms and the countryside. In those days in China there were more farmers than city people, so Mao had more supporters than Chiang, and others supported Mao because they though Chiang's government was bad. By 1949, Mao had chased the Nationalists to an island called Taiwan, and told the people that China would be Communist, with him as leader.


File:Mao Zedong Porträt am Eingang zur Verbotenen
Mao Zedong's picture at the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing

In the 1950s, Mao had many plans for how China could move forward in technology very fast and catch up with countries like the United Kingdom and United States. Mao was responsible for the First Five Year Plan and also, The Second Five Year Plan. The Second Five Year Plan had some ideas that did not work the way that Mao had wanted them to. Farms could not produce, or make, much food because of bad farming plans, and cities did not make many things like clothes and machines. Because of the lack or food, many people died of starvation.

In the 1960s, Mao wanted to change everything about China, such as the way Chinese people thought about China, and the way they remembered history. Because of this, he forced people to change things very fast, even if they did not want to. These changes were called The "Cultural Revolution". Mao and his supporters, the Red Guards, did not like it if someone talked about his ideas a bad way, but many people in Chinese cities did not like Mao's ideas because of the food problems. There was also no freedom to do many different things when the Red Guards were running the country. To keep people from saying bad things about Mao and try to rid of him, Mao told all of China's best and brightest people quit their jobs, and go into the farms. China become poorer and weaker because of this.

About the same time Mao became the leader in China, Nikita Khrushchev became the leader in the Soviet Union. Before this, Joseph Stalin was the leader in the Soviet Union, and Mao liked Stalin and respected his way to lead, and China and Russia were allies with each other. Khrushchev thought Stalin was a criminal dictator, and led the country very differently. Mao and Krushchev did not like each other, so the Soviet Union was no longer allies with China. China now had only a few allies like Albania, North Korea, Democratic Kampuchea, and Pakistan. This change of friends was called the Sino-Soviet Split. "Sino" is another way to say "Chinese" in this case.

During the 1970s, Mao became more friendly with the United States. In 1972, American president Richard Nixon visited China and met Mao. Mao died in 1976, and the "Cultural Revolution" ended that year. Mao's supporters were jailed, and Deng Xiaoping, who followed Mao, changed Mao's policies so that Chinese people could have more private ownership.


Some Chinese mainlanders still believe Mao Zedong was a great leader, but they also knew that he did many unwise and bad things. According to Deng Xiaoping, Mao was "seven parts right and three parts wrong", and his "contributions are primary and his mistakes secondary." Some people think Mao made China lose its important ally, or friend, the Soviet Union, in the Sino-Soviet Split. The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution were two of the things that Mao did that many people disliked. Most historians, people who study history, think that about tens of millions of people died because of Mao's bad ideas and neglect. That is the biggest number of people to ever die without a war. Some people disliked Mao because he did not support family planning, and this caused too many babies to be born, making too many people in too small places. Leaders of China after Mao had to make a new rule called one child policy.

Mao also made several changes to the Chinese language, such as switching from the Wade Giles system of Romanization to Pinyin, which is different. For this reason, Nanking is now called Nanjing on modern maps. Taiwan still uses Wade Giles, so its capital is called Taipei instead of the pinyin Taibei. He also simplified the Chinese characters, making them easier to read and write so that more people would be able to read.

Sources and other websites

  1. [1] Washington State University.

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