Mao Zedong: Biography, Facts & Accomplishments Video

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  • 0:01 Mao Zedong's…
  • 1:55 Communists vs. Nationalists
  • 3:01 A Communist China
  • 3:38 Great Leap Forward
  • 4:21 Cultural Revolution
  • 5:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Thomas Davis

Thomas has taught high school age students for 34 years, undergraduate 12 years, and graduate courses for the last 8 years. He has a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from National Louis University in Evanston, Illinois.

In this lesson, you'll be learning about the life of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People's Republic of China. You'll look at the facts surrounding his ascension and even his accomplishments and then you can test your knowledge with a quiz.

Mao Zedong's Accomplishments

Mao Zedong was one of the most important leaders during the 20th century. His most prominent accomplishment was the establishment of the People's Republic of China. His other achievements include leading his people on The Long March, over four thousand miles to keep the Communist movement alive. He also led an event known as the Cultural Revolution in which he compelled the people to believe that they had a right to revolt, among other things. Many of these accomplishments were controversial for a number of reasons, but they all held great importance in the development of the China we know today.

Mao Zedong's Young Life

The son of a prominent peasant family in Shao-shan in China's Hunan province, Mao was born on December 26, 1893. He worked in the fields and attended a local primary school, leading a relatively normal life. His mother was a Buddhist who was always willing to support her son, but he experienced frequent clashes with his very strict father. Mao went to Changsha, the capital of Hunan where he learned a great deal about politics and political change. A cultural movement was happening, and he was in the middle of it.

Attending Peking University with very little money, Mao had to work while he studied. The fact that his rich classmates led such cosmopolitan existences compared to him led him to connect more with the common people. After graduation, he returned to Hunan and served as a primary school principal. Outside of work, he spent countless hours publishing political propaganda. He then married Yang K'ai-hu in 1920, but she was executed ten years later by Chinese Nationalists. He married a second time in 1930 to a woman named Ho Tzu-Chen, but he later divorced her in 1937, and then married another woman, Chiang Ch'ing.

Communists vs. Nationalists

The Chinese Communist party was organized in 1921, and Mao founded a branch in Hunan. Although Mao was previously aligned with the party known as the Koumintang, when a man named Chiang Kai-shek took over and didn't respect the Communists, Mao lost faith in the party. Conflicts between the Communists and Nationalists began.

They continued to intensify until Mao was forced to lead his people on The Long March. They covered between 4.000 and 8,000 miles in a year. His supporters were in grave danger from the Koumintang and Chaign Kai-shek. If they hadn't taken this march, the Chinese Communist Party probably wouldn't have survived.

In 1937 when the Japanese invaded China, Mao took a military leadership role. He was an example to all of his followers that the whole was more important than any part. During the same period of time, he published papers entitled 'On Contradiction' and 'On Practice' which helped to lay his claim as an important Marxist theorist and laying the seed for Communist China.

A Communist China

By the end of World War II, the Chinese Communist Party had grown to 1.2 million members. Chiang's government was forced to flee to Taiwan, leaving room for Mao to found the new People's Republic of China. One of Mao's first moves was to try to open relations with the United States. He wanted the expansion of Chinese markets to be global. The U.S. showed little interest in dealing with China due to its anti-Communist stance at the time, so Mao turned to the U.S.S.R. When Joseph Stalin died, Mao's status rose as the international leader of Communist theory.

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