Mao Zedong

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Mao Zedong (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976), formerly spelled Mao Tse-Tung, was the founder of the People's Republic of China, which he led from its founding on 1 October 1949 until his death in 1976. He was a Marxist–Leninist and made his own developments in theory, military strategy, and politics, contributions later known as Maoism. He was an exceptional revolutionary and military leader during the Chinese Civil War but retains a mixed reputation as a statesman, personally having acknowledged his role in failed policies such as the Great Leap Forward.[1] Despite his shortcomings, the accomplishments of the Party under his leadership include the abolition of feudalism and backward customs such as foot binding,[2][3][4] campaigns against superstition and misogyny,[citation needed] and assistance to the Koreans and other nations[who?] in their struggle against imperialism. The modern CPC has labelled Mao and his mixed contributions "70 percent right and 30 percent wrong".[5]

Chinese Civil War

Mao became the leader of the Communist Party during the arduous Chinese Civil War, a conflict between the Communists and the nationalist Kuomintang party led by Chiang Kai-Shek. Mao wrote many of his best-known works, such as On Contradiction, On Practice, and Combat Liberalism, during this period.

People's Republic of China

Sino-Soviet split

After the death of Stalin, Mao began to openly criticize the Soviet Union and moved to distance China diplomatically from the Soviets. Mao focused in particular on Nikita Khrushchev and held that his policies and positions, including de‑Stalinization, "peaceful coexistence", and the "dictatorship of the whole people", were openly revisionist.[6][7] Mao also continued his criticism of Soviet economic policy from the Stalinist era.[8] Others[who?] have claimed that Mao himself followed a nationalistic policy toward the Soviet-influenced Mongolia that partly contributed to the ultimate diplomatic break. Mao had asked the Soviets to cede Mongolia, historically part of Qing China, since before Stalin's death.[9] When Mao insisted after Stalin's death that he become the new "senior" communist leader in the world, these and other grievances finally caused Sino-Soviet relations to degrade rapidly, at one point reaching the brink of war.[10] The two socialist states would continue to express their animosity through proxy wars (Mao strongly supported the Khmer Rouge against Soviet-oriented Vietnam) and by other diplomatic means. This policy pioneered by Mao culminated in a diplomatic reconciliation with the United States in the 1970s, which would be foundational to the reform and opening-up policy of Deng Xiaoping.


National policy



Language reform

In 1958, the Chinese Communist Party officially adopted the Pinyin system to replace older methods of transcribing Mandarin into the Latin alphabet (for example, Beijing is a transcription of 北京). Mao supported replacing Chinese characters altogether with Pinyin, but when Stalin insisted China keep its old script, Mao ended up encouraging the development of simplified Chinese instead. Both Pinyin and the simplified Chinese script were intended to make the language easier to learn at a time when many Chinese were still illiterate. Pinyin is still used in the PRC and most other countries to aid the teaching of Mandarin and to easily write Chinese characters on computers and electronic devices.[11]


The ideas of Mao are still highly influential in modern discussions about the future of communism, capitalism, and imperialism. Mao made important innovations, including New Democracy, Cultural Revolution, and protracted people's war.


  1. "Mao Zedong on responsibility for the Great Leap Forward (1959)". Chinese Revolution. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  2. Vogelsang, Willem (1 May 2019). "10. The end of foot binding". Textile Research Centre Leiden. Archived from the original on 3 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  3. Gillet, Kit; Times, Los Angeles (16 April 2012). "In China, foot binding slowly slips into history". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  4. McSpadden, Kevin (10 November 2021). "Pain or poverty? Foot binding tradition in Qing dynasty left Chinese women with tough dilemma". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 11 August 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  5. "Chinese Reopen Debate Over Mao's Legacy". NPR. 22 June 2011. Archived from the original on 10 November 2021. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  6. On Khrushchov’s Phoney Communism and Its Historical Lessons for the World, Mao Zedong (1964)
  7. Long Live Leninism (1960)
  8. Tse-tung, Mao. "Critique of Stalin's Economic Problems Of Socialism In The USSR". Marxists Internet Archive. Retrieved 2023-06-23.
  9. Radchenko, Sergey (22 October 2015). "The Truth About Mongolia's Independence 70 Years Ago". The Diplomat. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  10. "The 1969 Sino-Soviet Border Conflicts As A Key Turning Point Of The Cold War". Hoover Institution. 13 December 2022. Retrieved 19 June 2023.
  11. ["Explainer: Mao Zedong or Mao Tse-tung? We Have the Answer". That's Shanghai. 26 August 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2023.