Mao Zedong

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Mao Zedong (26 December 1893 – 9 September 1976) was the founder of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled 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 which came to be known as Maoism. He was an exceptional revolutionary and military leader however was a poorer statesman, in spite of his successes there as well — reflecting the official government verdict that he was 70 percent right and 30 percent wrong.[1] This was even acknowledged by Mao sometimes, such as when he admitted part of the failure of the Great Leap Forward was his.[2] Despite his shortcomings, he still did many good things like ending feudalism and customs like foot binding, carrying out campaigns against superstition and misogyny, on top of providing assistance to the Korean people and others in the struggle against imperialism.

Mao, a nationalist, hoped for the Soviets to cede Mongolia which was at the time in its sphere of influence. After Stalin's death Mao continued to urge the Soviets to "return" Mongolia, which Chinese leaders continued to do as late as Deng Xiaoping in 1989.[3] Coupled with Mao's insistence that after Stalin he became the "senior" communist leader of the world, among other issues, Sino–Soviet relations began to degrade to the point they were on the brink of war; expressing their animosity often through proxy wars (Mao for example amply supported the Khmer Rouge in the face of Soviet-oriented Vietnam).

In 1958, the Chinese Communist Party officially adopted pinyin as a Romanization system, with Mao actually wanting it to replace Chinese characters altogether. Stalin insisted China keep its old script and Mao ended up encouraging the development of simplified Chinese. Both pinyin and the simplified Chinese script have made learning the language easier, which was especially of benefit at the time when many people were illiterate, on top of enabling a more practical typing system for computers later on.[4]