Writer : Onajoko Deborah (AKA Derby County)
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Popularly known as Chairman Mao or Mao Tse Tung, he has been regarded by many as the father of modern China . Born in the 26th of December, 1893 at Shaoshan, Xiangtan Hunan province of China, to the affluent Chinese family of Mao Yichang and Wen Qimei, although it is said that his father was formerly a peasant who came to affluence through farming and grain dealing. Since at that time, education in young Mao’s society was mainly for the purpose of keeping accounts and records, eight years old Mao attended his native village‘s primary school where he studied Confucian classics, after which he began working full time on his family’s farm at the age of thirteen . In1907, at the age of fourteen, Mao was forced into an arranged marriage with twenty years old Luo Yixiu, which he never consummated nor acknowledged . Mao would later serve for six months as an enlisted soldier in Hunan after the revolutionary Qing dynasty broke out in Wuchang on the 10th of October 1911.
Ironically to this article, one of Mao Zedong’s most revered idols was Napoleon I amongst others like George Washington and other past Chinese warrior emperors . Chairman Mao had quite an interesting academic journey as he was known to dabble into various academic endeavors like studying history in secondary school, attending police school, law school and business school .
From 1913-1918, he studied and graduated from the first provincial normal school in Changsha, where he adopted even more revolutionary ideas. He developed keen interest for the 1917 Russian revolution and the 4th century BCE Chinese philosophy called legalism . In his early years, Mao was known to be rebellious and spoilt, he also became a committed Marxist after getting acquainted with the translation of the communist manifesto. Mao Zedong would later accompany his former ethics professor, Yang Chongjin, to Beijing where he would secure a job as a librarian at the Peking University in Beijing, which was known as China’s leading intellectual center . Later that year in September 1920, Zedong would become the principal of the Lin Changsha primary school, and organized a branch of the socialist youth league in October . That same winter, Mao got married to Yang Kaihui, the daughter of Yang Chongjin, his former ethics teacher, who would later loose her life alongside her eight year old son, who was one of the two children she had with Mao, to a local warlord in Changsha, after being captured in October 1930, and refused to denounce communism. She was beheaded in front of her son. That same year in May, Mao would later get married to his third wife He Zizhen , whom he would later divorce for the actress Jiang Qing, who would later be known as Madam Mao.
After the start of China’s civil war, where the nationalist party also known as the Kuomintang (1912) under the administration of Chiang Kai -Shek , put an end to the lives of about 5000 communist in Shanghai, Mao Zedong led a movement known as the Autumn Harvest uprising, which took place in Changsha against the Kuomintang(KMT) where over 90% of Mao’s army were killed by the KMT and forced away. However, Mao Zedong didn’t give up, as he rallied and built up more peasants to join his motion.
As at June 1928, the KMT had taken over Beijing, and had been recognized by international powers, as the sole authority in China. However, Zedong and his communist would continue to set various peasant soviets, around the southern parts of Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, laying the foundations for Maoism. In 1931, Mao was elected the chairman of the Soviet republic of China in Jiangxi, where he ordered a reign of terror through his “Red army”, against landlords, where more than 200,000 were tortured and killed. The infamous “Red army” of Chairman Mao was largely made up of poorly armed fanatics and peasants, who numbered over 45,000. Mao was however quickly demoted from his role of leadership under KMT pressure, Chiang Kai-sheik’s troops also surrounded the red army and forced them to flee in 1934, at this instance, about 85,000 members of the red army troops fell back and began the 6,000-kilometers trek to the northern province of Shaanxi.
Most of the troops members met with their death along the way, due to icy weather, attacks from local warlords and sometimes high mountain tops. At the time they arrived at Shaanxi in 1936, only 7,000 of the communist had made it out alive. Despite the intense rivalry going on between the KMT and Mao’s Chinese communist, in 1937, when Japan invaded China, both parties put a pause to their ongoing feud, and focused on their new mutual enemies, Japan. Although Japan was able to conquer two territories, namely, Beijing and the Chinese coast, they were never able to capture the interior, as the two Chinese armies kept their defenses. Though, Mao had his hands full during the period of the Japanese invasion, he never stopped plotting ways as to which he would overthrow the KMT, which he would later achieve as the Red army, which was now known as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) defeated the KMT at Changchun, Jilin province. As at 1st October, 1949, Chairman Mao declared the People’s Republic of China . The PLA then went ahead to invade the final strong hold of the KMT at Chengdu, Sichuan on the 10th of December , after which Chiang Kai -Shek and his KMT Officials fled to Taiwan . Now that Mao was in full power, he put in place various forms of radical reforms which claimed the lives of millions of landlords and distributed their lands to poor peasants all over the country.
He also enacted the “campaign to stop counterrevolutionaries”, in which he killed over 800,000 persons who were mostly former KMT members and businessmen . Between the years of 1953-1958, Mao had launched his five year plan, which was intended to turn China into an industrial power, in which he succeeded in achieving, however, due to his initial success, Mao was propelled to start a follow up “five year plan” which he called the Great Leap Forward, in 1958. Unlike its predecessor, this five year plan was a big failure as the results were disastrous, and an estimated 30 – 40 million citizen of China starved to death, in the Great famine of 1958- 1960. Some time after coming into power as head, Mao aided the army of Kim II Sung, in the Korean war, against South Korea and the United Nations forces by sending in the “People’s Volunteer Army” to fight alongside the North Koreans. This aid from Zedong prevented Kim II Sung’s army from being overwhelmed and resulted in an equal and stalemate end in the war.
The Two great communist nations, China and Russia would later on have disputes concerning certain viewpoints held on the wisdom behind “The Great Leap Forward”, which would result in a detachment between the two powers. As at 1959, the relationship between China and Russia had deteriorated remarkably due to such disagreements, and finally in the year 1962, China and the USSR finally cut off all relationship with each other in the Sino-Soviet split . After several back and forth of power tussle amongst the members of the Chinese communist party, which included Mao himself, who fought to remain relevant in the affairs of his nation by perpetuating various revolutions, by the emergence of the 1970s, Mao’s health started to degenerate and finally he was confined to a hospital by July 1976, after which he finally died on the 9th of September after being removed from life support . The great Chairman Mao died at the age of 82.
Writer: Onajoko Deborah
- ” It is humiliating to remain with our hands folded while others write history” — Benito Mussolini .
- “Obstacles do not exist to be surrendered to, but only to be broken.” — Adolf Hitler.
- “It is not heroes that make history but history that makes heroes” — Joseph Stalin.
- “In times of difficulties, we must not loose sight of our achievement” — Mao Zedong.
- ” Everything is decided by a person’s thought, and if he is ideologically motivated there is nothing he cannot do” — Kim II Sung.