Mao Tse Tung (also Zedong)

Born in the Hunan province of China he was one of the co-founders of the Chinese Communuist Party (CCP). Had a minor role in the coalition government with the Kuomintang but gained the leadership of the party after the coalition broke up and the opposition leader Chiang Kai Shek (qv) terrorized the individual Chinese Soviets to such an extent that they had to flee to the Chinese hinterland - The Long March. In the early to mid 1940s the CCP started to emerge from under the influence of the Soviet Union (then more concerned with the invading German army) and this was the opportunity Mao had been waiting for. His rectification campaign of 1942-1944 laid the seeds of his personality cult which saw the chairman's thought written into the CCP's constitution as a guiding principle of the party.

Throughout the second World War Chiang had kept his best forces to fight not the invading Japanese but the Communists and this was to cost him dearly. Castigated by the Allied powers he was denied crucial support (notably by General George Marshall) which eventually led to a string of Communist victories and the removal of the Kuomintang en bloc to the island of Formosa (now Taiwan.) Mao arrived triumphant to Peking in 1949, the new leader of China.

As leader Mao embarked on a series of schemes to bring Chinese production up to the levels of Europe and Japan. The first of these was the Socialist Upsurge in the Chinese Countryside of 1955, which dealt with farmers' communes and later the Great Leap Forward of 1958. The latter however brought about massive famines as almost every agrarian worker abandoned their crops to make steel in backyard furnaces. Mao lost some influence as a consequence of the failures and as such his political rivals (in particular Deng Xiao Ping) began to advance. Mao put a stop to that nonsense by launching the Cultural Revolution (1966) which preached perpetual revolution against the entire establisment - except Mao, naturally. This tore the country apart as students turned on teachers, privates turned on generals and the young turned on the old. After 2 1/2 years Mao wound it re-established as a total ruler.

In his final years he mellowed somewhat, eventually opening relations with the United States and rehabilitating purged party members. Died in September 1976 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more popularly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Length of Rule - Twenty Seven years

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Mao Tse Tung


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