Chairman Mao Zedong was a revolutionary leader who changed the course of Chinese history. He led the Chinese people in their fight for independence from imperialist forces and ushered in an era of unprecedented economic, social and political progress.
His legacy lives on today as a symbol of freedom and liberation for many Chinese citizens.
Before Chairman Mao, China was an underdeveloped country which was divided between numerous warlords, tribes, and hereditary landlord dynasties which fought among each other for power and wealth. The average lifespan of a Chinese person was mid 40’s and hospitals were a luxury mostly reserved for the wealthy. Illiteracy was common and remote tribes practiced slavery. In addition, China had been under the control of foreign powers that sought to exploit its resources.
Though with Mao at the helm, this all changed as he fought tirelessly against imperialism and championed civil liberties for his countrymen.
Early Life and Education
Mao Zedong was born in Shaoshan village, Hunan on 26 December 1893. Mao’s father Mao Yichang had come from a poor peasant background and Mao’s mother Wen Qimie was a devout Buddhist.
Mao was sent to Shaoshan Primary School at the young age of 8 and exposed to Confucian values. Mao does not have fond memories of the Confucian texts that he was given to study, rather preferring classic novels instead.
He was one of four siblings – three boys (Zemin, Zetan) as well as an adopted girl Zejian – who lived with their parents at their farmstead in Hunan.
His father was strict but his mother tempered her husband’s sternness with kind words of encouragement during Mao’s upbringing.
Mao’s Goals for China
Mao Zedong as a Chinese revolutionary, had great ambitions for the future of his country. He believed in communist ideology and sought to institute Maoism as the new governing power in China.
Mao’s main goal for reforming China was to develop it industrially and modernize parts of society. Mao wanted to eliminate any capitalist elements from China, making it an economically and ideologically self-sufficient socialist nation.
He also focused on educating younger generations, emphasizing loyalty to Maoism as well as traditional Chinese values and beliefs, literacy and numeracy skills, physical education and health awareness, discipline, and morality.
Mao’s rule lasted 30 years, with sweeping political reforms that drastically changed Chinese culture.
The Chinese Revolution
In 1927, Mao Zedong and his comrades launched the Nanchang Uprising and the Autumn Harvest Uprisings as part of the larger Chinese Revolution. Much of the activity in this period took place at Jinggangshan, a mountain base Mao helped establish with other leading communists.
After being forced to retreat from their position due to Kuomintang forces, Mao relocated to Jiangxi province for some years to establish what would become known as the Jiangxi Soviet Republic of China.
This lasted until 1934 when Mao and his followers embarked on a long march seeking an escape from Kuomintang dominance. Through intense support efforts from Mao’s side, his alliance with the Kuomintang was established for five years until 1940, when Mao resumed the civil war.
In 1944, the U.S., recognizing Mao’s rebels’ impressive progress, sent a special diplomatic envoy—called the Dixie Mission—to meet with them.
Achievements of the People’s Republic
The People’s Republic of China has made several major achievements since the establishment of Mao Zedong’s new Communist state in 1949.
The 1980s saw the growth of a thriving private sector as Maoists embraced economic reform, with a 50% growth in GDP per annum over much of this time period.
By 2000, the life expectancy rate had risen to just over 70 years old while the literacy rate climbed to around 95%. Mao’s regime abolished child labor, legalized abortion, and implemented campaigns that improved sanitation and public health.
Other notable highlights include the sending of China’s first astronauts into space in 2003, along with an impressive Olympic performance since returning to participate in 1984.
Mao’s reign was marked by famine and repression but it also brought about unprecedented access to public services and education.
Mao Zedong is a controversial figure in Chinese history and his legacy is still hotly debated today. Mao was the founder of the People’s Republic of China, leading the Communist faction during the Chinese Civil War.
He oversaw numerous economic, social, and military reforms during his rule in an attempt to modernize China in line with his vision of socialism. Mao’s reign is widely regarded as highly successful among academic circles and global leaders, however, it remains a divisive subject among many Chinese citizens.
In particular, he remains popular amongst people from rural areas and lower socioeconomic backgrounds who were freed from socioeconomic constraints thanks to Mao’s land redistribution policies at the time.
However, for regular working-class citizens living comfortable lives as part of a more market-driven economy in urban centers, Mao is mostly seen as an authoritarian ruler whose overall policies failed to create universal prosperity within the nation.
Conclusion: Unshackling the Chinese People
Mao Zedong’s legacy is a complex one, and it continues to be hotly debated today. On the one hand, Mao brought unprecedented access to public services and education while abolishing child labor and legalizing abortion.
On the other hand, many Chinese citizens view him as an authoritarian ruler whose overall policies failed to create universal prosperity within the nation.
Ultimately, Mao was successful in unshackling millions of people from rural areas and lower socioeconomic backgrounds who were educated and freed from socioeconomic constraints thanks to his land redistribution policies.
His death in 1976 marked not only the end of an era but also served as a reminder that even with all its challenges, progress can still be made when we push for greater freedoms for our fellow citizens.