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Mao Tse-tung was the principal Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier and statesman who led his nation's Cultural Revolution.
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Mao Tse-tung was the leader of the Chinese Communist Party from 1935 until his death and chairman of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1959.
Mao Tse Tung ruled a quarter of the world's population for twenty five years and made China one of the most powerful countries in the world. But behind the scenes he was responsible for the deaths of millions of Chinese people.
While China was caught up in the proletariat Cultural Revolution, Mao Tse Tung was creating this controversy in order to gain control over the country.
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In April 1927, he broke the alliance and began a violent purge of the Communists, imprisoning or killing many. That September, Mao Tse-tung led an army of peasants against the Kuomintang, but was handily defeated. The remnants of the army fled to Jiangxi Province, where they reorganized. Mao helped establish the Soviet Republic of China in the mountainous area of Jiangxi and was elected chairman of the small republic. He developed a small but strong army of guerilla fighters,
and directed the torture and execution of any dissidents who defied party law.
By 1934, there were more than 10 regions under the control of the Communists in Jiangxi Province. Chiang Kai-shek was getting nervous about their success and growing numbers. Small raids and attacks on outlying Communist strongholds had not discouraged them. Chiang reasoned it was time for a massive sweep of the region to eliminate the Communist influence. In October 1934, Chiang amassed nearly 1 million government forces and surrounded the Communist stronghold. Mao was alerted to the impending attack. After some intense arguing with other leaders, who wanted to conduct a final stand against the government forces, he convinced them that retreat was the better tactic.
For the next 12 months, more than 100,000 Communists and their dependents trekked west and north in what became known as the "Long March" across the Chinese mountains and swampland to Yanan, in northern China. It was estimated that only 30,000 of the original 100,000 survived the 8,000-mile journey. As word spread that the Communists had escaped extermination by the Kuomintang, many young people migrated to Yanan. Here Mao employed his oratory talents and inspired volunteers to faithfully join his cause as he emerged the top Communist leader.
In July 1937, the Japanese Imperial Army invaded China, forcing Chiang Kai-shek to flee the capital in Nanking. Chiang's forces soon lost control of the coastal regions and most of the major cities. Unable to fight a war on two fronts, Chiang reached out to the Communists for a truce and support. During this time, Mao established himself as a military leader and, with aid from Allied forces, helped fight the Japanese.
With the Japanese defeat in 1945, Mao Tse-tung was able to set his sights on controlling all of China. Efforts were made—by the United States in particular—to establish a coalition government, but China slid into a bloody civil war. On October 1, 1949, in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, Mao announced the establishment of the People's Republic of China. Chiang Kai-shek and his followers fled to the island of Taiwan, where they formed the Republic of China.
Over the next few years, Mao Tse-tung instituted sweeping land reform, sometimes through persuasion and other times through coercion, using violence and terror when he deemed it necessary. He seized warlord land, converting it into people's communes. He instituted positive changes in China, including promoting the status of women, doubling the school population and improving literacy, and increasing access to health care, which dramatically raised life expectancy.
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