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Mao Tse-tung was the principal Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier and statesman who led his nation's Cultural Revolution.
Mao Tse-Tung - Full Episode (45:54)
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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His youthful followers formed the Red Guards and led a mass purge of the "undesirables." Soon Mao was back in command. To prevent a repeat of the rejection he received during the Hundred Flowers Campaign, Mao ordered the closure of China's schools,
and young intellectuals living in the cities were sent into the countryside to be "re-educated" through hard manual labor. The Revolution destroyed much of China's traditional cultural heritage as well as creating general economic and social chaos in the country. It was during this time that Mao's cult of personality grew to immense proportions.
In 1972, to further solidify his place in Chinese history, Mao Tse-tung met with United States President Richard Nixon, a gesture that eased tensions between the two countries and elevated China's prominence as a world player. During the meetings, it became apparent that Mao's health was deteriorating, and not much was accomplished because Mao was not always clear in his statements or intentions.
Mao Tse-tung died from complications of Parkinson's disease on September 18, 1976, at the age of 82, in Beijing, China. He left a controversial legacy in both China and the West as a genocidal monster and political genius. Officially, in China, he is held in high regard as a great political strategist and military mastermind, the savior of the nation. However, Mao's efforts to close China to trade and market commerce and eradicate traditional Chinese culture have largely been rejected by his successors. While his emphasis on China's self-reliance and the rapid industrialization that he promoted is credited with laying the foundation for China's late 20th century development, his harsh methods and insensitivity to anyone who didn't give him full faith and allegiance have been widely rebuked as self-defeating.
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