One of the most important figures of the 20th century, Mao Zedong was a communist revolutionary who went on to become the founding father of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. He led the gigantic country, along with loyal lieutenants like premier Zhou Enlai, until his death in September 1976, and during that time instituted a series of reforms and political initiatives that came to collectively be known as Maoism.
Maoism was essentially synonymous with China’s unique brand of communism throughout Mao’s reign, and developed distinctly from Soviet communism with its own national flavor. Chinese communism was deeply informed by Mao’s personal outlooks, and still bears strong impressions of his philosophy today, albeit in an evolved form. The current President, Xi Jinping, is a strong believer in Mao.
Mao was born to parents who had worked their way up from being peasants to affluent grain dealers. This mercantile spirit of his family meant that the education of a child was valued only to the extent that it could help in raising fortunes.
But Mao was rebellious from his early youth and eventually moved away from his family and found himself studying about revolutionaries from across the globe. Mao’s revolutionary spirit was truly christened by his participation as a soldier in a real revolution that broke out in 1911, which cemented his admiration for military strategists and leaders.
After spending a few years dabbling in various disciplines, Mao moved to Beijing’s Peking University. This move turned out to be a turning point in Mao’s life as he found himself under the tutelage of Li Daxhao and Chen Duxiu, two central personalities in the founding of the Chinese Communist Part (CCP) in 1921.
Mao became increasingly involved in politics and began working with the communist and nationalist parties in the coming years. The two parties eventually split and entered a phase of intense opposition with one another. In the wake of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek’s “northern expedition”, an insurmountable violent conflict began between the two.
Mao never visited Pakistan but had several key meetings with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the Pakistani Prime Minister who is considered the architect of Pak-China relations
Mao formed his “red army” and entered a phase of relatively small-scale guerrilla attacks on enemy strongholds. However, there was no major step forward until the united front against Japanese invasion in the mid-1930s produced swathes of fresh support for the communist party due to a renewed nationalist sentiment and pro-peasant agrarian policies.
Between 1936 and 1940, Mao produced many military, political and philosophical writings and these endeavors took up much of his time. In 1943, he formally became the chairman of the CCP and began to lead the final push in the civil war against the Nationalists, which resulted in the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
In the coming decade, Mao began to lay the foundation for the “Great Leap Forward”, a new era of economic and political progress that was set to launch China as a major world power and model for the fruits of socialism. He led the cultural revolution of the 1960s, and essentially gave China a blueprint for economic and social progress that is pertinent to this day. The centrality of Mao’s thought in the Chinese constitution, and its importance today are both unquestionable.
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Mao never visited Pakistan but had several key meetings with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the Pakistani Prime Minister who is considered the architect of Pak-China relations.