Mao’s China
China after 1911
 The Revolution of 1911 was intended to
create a modern republican form of
government in China.
 Instead, the country broke up into
warlord-dominated regions with
increasing poverty and violence.
 The Kuomintang (Nationalist) Party led
the revolution, but controlled few areas.
Kuomintang Party
 Sun Yat-sen was the main leader of the
1911 Revolution and the Nationalist Party
 He died in 1925 and was succeeded as
leader by Chiang Kai-shek.
 Chiang cooperated with the Communists
for a time, but then massacred them in
Mao Zedong’s Life
 Mao was born in 1896 as the son of an
affluent peasant in Hunan province.
 After service in a provincial army in the
1911 revolution, Mao attended a
teacher’s college.
 He then attended Beijing University and
worked in the library there.
Life, 2
 Mao was a leader of the Chinese
Communist Party since its founding in
 While most Chinese Communists
believed that urban workers were the
group that would be the most important
supporters of the revolution, Mao decided
that peasants had more revolutionary
Land Reform
 Mao discovered even in the 1920s that
the Communists could win the support of
the peasants by taking away land from
the rich and sharing this with the poor.
 Mao learned how to get the vast majority
of peasants on his side by concentrating
the confiscations on a small minority of
wealthy farmers.
Life, 3
 Mao led a Communist area in Jiangxi
Province in 1934, but attacks by the
Kuomintang (Nationalist Party)
government army forced them to undergo
the “Long March” lasting over a year and
covering 3700 miles to a new, safer area
to the north in Shanxi Province.
Yan’an, 1935-1948
 For over a decade, Mao and the Chinese
Communist leadership operated from Yan’an in
the north of China.
 Land reform was carried out in Yan’an.
 During most of this time, the Communists were
fighting against both the KMT and the
 The Communists and the KMT competed in
terms of which best represented the national
interests of China against the Japanese.
Yan’an, 2
 At the end of the Second World War, the
Russians moved into Manchuria against
the Japanese and were able to share
some weapons with the Chinese
 Stalin urged Mao to ally with Chiang Kaishek rather than to fight him.
Communist Victory, 1949
 Due to corruption and inefficiency among
the KMT leadership, the Communists
took power in mainland China in October,
 The KMT leaders retreated to the island
of Taiwan.
 Now Mao was in charge of the whole
August, 1949
Trials of landlords
 During 1949-1951, the Communists held
mass trials of landlords and KMT leaders
all over the country.
 Peasants were urged to denounce
crimes committed by the former rulers.
 This tied the peasants who participated
to the regime because they were
implicated in the deaths of the elite.
Accusing the landlord of
abusing his tenants
Trials, 2
 Hundreds of thousands of members of
the former elite were put to death in the
mass trials of 1949-1951.
 Their land was then distributed among
the poorer peasants.
 This was the most important
revolutionary act in the rural villages of
 Between 1949 and 1960, China followed
the Russian strategy of industrialization.
 They built large factories in the cities.
 Many Russian engineers came to China
to assist in this effort.
 Many of the largest factories in China
today were built during this period.
Great Leap Forward, 1958-60
 In 1958, Mao decided that the Russian
strategy of industrial development was
not suitable for China.
 This urban, large-factory system was not
having enough of an impact on the mass
of the population in the countryside.
 Mao decided to opt for a unique Chinese
method of industrialization.
Great Leap Forward, 2
 The most mocked aspect of the Great
Leap Forward was the backyard steel
 Mao thought that peasants could learn to
make steel on a broadly decentralized
 Most areas of China, however, lacked the
ore and fuel for this.
Great Leap Forward, 3
 Millions of peasants were pulled away
from their agricultural tasks in order to
engage in industrialization or water
conservancy projects.
 This lack of attention to the crops added
to the problem of a serious drought and
up to 30 million people died in China
during this period.
Great Leap Forward, 4
 Small villages were done away with, and the
peasants were moved to larger towns.
 Mao attempted to have the peasants live in
dormitories – with the separation of husbands
and wives.
 Communal kitchens and nurseries were
 These measures failed.
Great Leap Forward, 5
 The Russians were insulted that the
Chinese were no longer following their
advice and pulled out their engineers.
 Many factories that were being built could
not be finished because the Russians
had the only plans and because the
Russians were to provide the machinery.
Sino-Soviet Dispute, 1960
 From 1960 onward, China and Russia
had a great ideological quarrel.
 Mao asserted that the world was in a
revolutionary situation.
 Mao expected revolution to come from
the poor peasants of Asia, Africa and
Latin America.
Sino-Soviet Dispute, 2
 The Soviet Union was led in 1960 by
Nikita Khrushchev and he insisted on the
need for “peaceful coexistence” with the
 Khrushchev was against promoting
revolution in Third World countries as
China wished to do.
The Cultural Revolution
 Between 1961 and 1963, conditions were
relatively quiet in China, but in 1964 Mao
began pushing a new crusade to
transform the culture to make the country
more purely communist.
 Mao attacked traditional Confucian and
Buddhist elements in Chinese culture.
Cultural Revolution, 2
 Any Communist leaders who were not
strongly for equality were condemned in
this movement.
 The Cultural Revolution started among
students, but it began to affect other
sectors of society.
Cultural Revolution, 3
 Eventually, the military stepped in and
sent the students off to work as peasants.
Assessing Mao
 Most people both in China and the West
consider that Mao’s leadership was
atrocious – particularly the Great Leap
Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
 However, it is possible that the success
of Chinese economic growth since Mao’s
death in 1976 owes much to these two
Assessing Mao, 2
 In spite of the deaths during the Great
Leap Forward and the social and
economic disruption of the Cultural
Revolution, the two movements helped to
modernize China both in its rural
economy and in its ideology.
 Both movements helped to give primacy
to industry and technology.
Assessing Mao, 3
 Both movements asserted the power of
the common people to make important
social changes.
 The tradition of the Confucian mandarin
bureaucrat was buried, and the new
leadership of China had to justify their
power on the basis of economic growth
for the betterment of the people.
Assessing Mao, 4
 History often has tragic aspects.
 The deaths due to the famine associated
with the Great Leap Forward (and the far
smaller numbers of deaths in the Cultural
Revolution) were tragic aspects of a
broad national transformation.
Assessing Mao, 5
 Industrializing a huge, impoverished
peasant society is a giant task that
involves ideological mobilization as well
as simply building factories and installing
new machinery.
 China might not have been as advanced
as it is today without the Great Leap
Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
After Mao
 From 1975 to 1997, China was led by
Deng Xiaoping who welcomed economic
reforms in the direction of capitalism.
 Peasants were allowed to farm on their
own and to leave the collective farms.
 Local governments were permitted to
establish industrial companies that
functioned like capitalist firms.
Deng Xiaoping
After Mao, 2
 Mao would be turning over in his grave at
the foreign investment and the consumer
culture that is spreading in China today.
 However, Mao’s efforts did create a
strong, united Chinese state that after
Mao’s death was able to make serious
reforms to compete in a global economy.

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