Mao Zedong formerly Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) was a Chinese political leader and Marxist theoretician. A founder of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) 1921, Mao soon emerged as its leader.
He organized the Long March (1934-1936) and the war of liberation (1937-1949), and headed the CCP and government until his death. His influence diminished with the failure of his (1958-1960) Great Leap Forward, an attempt to concentrate resources on industry rather than agriculture, but he emerged dominant again during the (1966-1969) anti-bureaucratic Cultural Revolution. Mao adapted communism to Chinese conditions, as set out in the Little Red Book.
Mao, son of a peasant farmer in Hunan province, was once library assistant at Beijing University and a headmaster at Changsha. He
became chief of CCP propaganda under the Guomindang (nationalist) leader Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhong Shan) until sacked by Sun's successor Chiang Kai-shek (Jiang Jie Shi).
In 1931-1934 Mao set up a communist republic at Jiangxi and, with Zhu De, marshalled the Red Army in preparation for the Long March to Shaanxi. CCP chair from 1935, Mao secured an alliance with the Guomindang (1936-1945). He built up a people's republic at Yan'an (1936-1947), where he married his third wife Jiang Qing in 1939. During the liberation war and civil wars, he successfully employed mobile, rural-based guerrilla tactics.
Mao served as party chair until his death Sept 1976 and as state president until 1959. After the damages of the Cultural Revolution, the Great Helmsman, as he was called, working with his prime minister Zhou Enlai, oversaw a period of reconstruction from 1970 until deteriorating health weakened his political grip in the final years.
Mao's writings and thoughts dominated the functioning of the People's Republic (1949-1976). He stressed the need for rural rather than urban-based revolutions in Asia, for reducing rural-urban differences, and for perpetual revolution to prevent the emergence of new elites. Overseas, Mao helped precipitate the Sino-Soviet split in 1960 and was a firm advocate of a nonaligned Third World strategy (neutrality towards major powers).
Since 1978, the leadership of Deng Xiaoping has reinterpreted Maoism and criticized its policy excesses, but many of Mao's ideas remain influential.
Why is Mao Zedong famous?
Mao Zedong was a Chinese Communist politician, Marxist political philosopher and leader of the Chinese Revolution.