(December 26, 1893 â€“ September 9, 1976)
was a Chinese revolutionary, political theorist and communist leader. He led the People's Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theoretical contribution to Marxism-Leninism, military strategies, and his brand of Communist policies are now collectively known as Maoism.
Born the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan, Mao adopted a Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist outlook in early life, particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919. Coming to adopt Marxism-Leninism, he became an early member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), soon rising to a senior position. In 1922, the Communists agreed to an alliance with the larger Kuomintang (KMT), a nationalist revolutionary party, whom Mao aided in creating a revolutionary peasant army and organizing rural land reform. In 1927 the KMT's military leader Chiang Kai-shek broke the alliance and set about on an anti-communist purge; in turn, the CPC formed an army of peasant militia, and the two sides clashed in the Chinese Civil War. Mao was responsible for commanding a part of the CPC's Red Army, and after several setbacks, rose to power in the party by leading the Long March. When the Empire of Japan invaded China in 1937, sparking the Second Sino-Japanese War, Mao agreed to a united front with the KMT, resulting in a CPC-KMT victory in 1945. The Chinese Civil War then resumed, in which Mao led the Red Army to victory as Chiang and his supporters fled to Taiwan.
In 1949 Mao proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China, a one-party socialist state controlled by the Communist Party. After solidifying the reunification of China through his Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries, Mao enacted sweeping land reform, overthrowing the feudal landlords before seizing their large estates and dividing the land into people's communes. He proceeded to lead a nationwide political campaign known as the Great Leap Forward from 1958 through to 1961, designed to modernize and industrialize the country, however agrarian problems worsened by his policies led to widespread famine. In 1966, he initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to weed out counter-revolutionary elements in Chinese society, which continued until his death.