Mao Ze Dong

Mao Ze Dong

When people talk about brutal dictators, the two that primarily come to mind are Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin. These two men combined have committed countless atrocities and have directly caused the death of 30-40 million people. If you consider the deaths from the WWII conflict and the Cold War their death totals would easily surpass 100 million. Added on top of these death counts are their horrible human rights violations, suppression of free speech and media, elimination of opposition parties and elections, operating secret police against their own citizens, and genocides of entire minority groups in their countries whether directly (Holocaust) or indirectly (Holodomor). In both Germany and Russia, they have been condemned and the populations are being taught about the atrocities they committed so that it does not happen again (yes, even in Russia they teach about how bad Stalin was).

Everyone knows about these two, however, there is one dictator whose death toll is arguably higher than both of them combined yet he is viewed in many people’s eyes as a hero. That man is the former chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao Zedong (also known as Mao Tse-tung, Máo Zédōng, or 毛泽东 in Chinese). 

I am going to try to keep this article brief so I am going to give a simplified version of his backstory. He was born in the year 1893 in Hunan, China to a wealthy farming family. After he moved to Beijing, he picked up Marxism, a political belief that land should be controlled by the people and wealth should be redistributed, and began to see it as the only way to fix China. He formed the Chinese Communist Party and quickly started a revolution, which led to a civil war with the current ruling administration, the Nastalist Party of China. This bloody civil war lasted from 1927 to 1949 (there was a brief truce between the two sides to help fight off the Japanese in WWII, but it did not last). Mao and the communists were losing the war heavily at first, but after WWII the Republic of China’s forces were depleted from fighting the Japanese. The forces resorted to requesting Japanese help in the fight against Mao and the communists. Obviously, the communists won. Otherwise, I would not be writing this article. The subsequent years after communist victory saw a China full of paranoia, famine, death, and suppression. Some argue it has never ended, but in China’s defense, I believe they have gotten a little better since Mao’s death.

Mao did some good things for China after his takeover, he actually did some good things when he took over China, the main thing being that he united China for the first time in literally hundreds of years. China was officially “united” before Mao, but there were warlords out west who governed themselves, so many people don’t count this. Mao was able to beat the warlords and take control of all of China, something even the emperors could not do, something even I will admit is impressive. He was also able to decrease poverty levels and lower rent prices, which helped the average person a lot. But, with these good things, came a whole lot of bad. I am not able to go over it all (trust me, there’s a lot) but, I will go over three main things: The Great Leap forward and subsequent famines, the “Peaceful Liberation” of Tibet, and the Cultural Revolution.

The Great Leap forward was one of the biggest disasters of all time.  It was so bad that the Chinese government, masters of suppression and fact bending, was not able to suppress it and had to own up to Mao’s actions. Again, it’s extremely complicated so I can only do a brief summary. Mao wanted to modernize China and become the largest steel producer in the world. He forced millions of farmers, who were already struggling to farm the crops on the newly-made, disastrous public farms, to make steel instead of crops. You may be thinking, how can farmers who have never made steel before make the most steel in the world as well as farm crops? Well, they couldn’t; they failed miserably at both. The steel they made was known as “pig iron”, very brittle and unusable in any setting, it was a huge waste of time. Farmers had to leave full fields of crops unharvested so they could make steel or else they faced extreme punishments, including mass imprisonment or death. Because the farmers were not tending to their crops along with a drought, Mao had created the biggest man-made famine in the history of the whole world. According to official Chinese documents, 25 million people died from the famine, a huge number in its own right. But, as we should know, don’t trust the CCP with any statistics that have to do with people dying. The real number was probably closer to 50-75 million, which is just catastrophic. To put that number in perspective, 50 million people would be like if 19 percent of the US died. It’s not even like this was in the 1400s where a famine like this would be more believable. This happened in 1958, the same year the US launched a satellite into space. The Great Leap Forward was one of the biggest failures, not only in the history of China, but in the history of the whole world.

Next up, is the “peaceful liberation” of Tibet. Before I start, if anything is called a “peaceful liberation” especially by a dictatorship, I guarantee you it was in no way peaceful or liberating. In 1950, Chinese troops moved into Tibet and essentially annexed the area, allowing them to keep some of their power in exchange for being ruled. China claims that the people of Tibet signed the Seventeen Point Agreement (the document that gave Tibet to China) willingly, however, Tibetian officials who fled into exile said this was not true. The annexation was not very bloody as Tibet was a pacifist nation with a lot of Buddhists who put up a token resistance, but the Tibetian uprising of 1959 certainly was. In 1959, under fears that the Dalai Lama (de facto leader of Tibet) would be arrested by the CCP, there was an armed rebellion in the capital, in which thousands of people were killed. The uprising was brutally crushed, and ever since, China has governed Tibet a lot more closely. However, the Dalai Lama was able to escape. The Chinese government claims that only 85,000 people (many of them passive Buddhist monks who did not fight) were killed. As I said before, don’t trust the CCP with numbers involving death. It is impossible to know the true death toll, but I guarantee it was a lot higher than 85,000. A general guess would be in the range of 100,000-150,000. I have many problems with this, first of all, why does the Chinese government keep referring to it as a “peaceful liberation”? Who did they liberate them from, themselves? Chinese troops went into a pacifist nation composed of many monks, and took over the area, and put them under CCP control. That is not liberation, that is ANNEXATION. You can’t liberate someone if you put them into a dictatorship where you have all the power. The Chinese government themselves even admit that 85,000 people died in the uprising, so why is it called peaceful? Who knows, because I certainly don’t.

The last thing about Mao I wanted to mention is the Cultural Revolution. Again, this is a very complicated subject, and I don’t think I can explain it so you should do your own research. Essentially, Mao was a very paranoid person. After the Great Leap Forward, Mao lost a lot of credibility and power in the Chinese government. Many of the higher-up communists thought that he was losing his mind (he was) and that it was better if he was more of a symbolic leader rather than a practical one. Mao did not like this, so starting in the year 1966 Mao made a push to get power back to himself. He made himself a living god. Everyone had to worship Mao, or they could be executed for treason or put in prison for life. Anyone who was unpatriotic was publicly humiliated and executed. He killed off almost all of his political rivals and former friends, making it so that he was the sole leader of the country. He did not stop there ,However, he encouraged all young people to turn on their teachers and parents and punish them for not listening to Mao enough. Of course, young people are the most easily manipulated, so they followed through. Mao successfully brainwashed a whole generation of young people, almost all of which are still alive today, mind you. Millions of people were killed, some of them were may have been “unpatriotic” or “anti-communist,” but the vast majority were innocent people. He also killed off almost all college-educated people including doctors, teachers, professors, and journalists as he thought that the only people who could challenge him were the smart ones. This purge was bigger than Joseph Stalin’s purge by a wide margin considering it affected not just CCP members, but normal everyday people. In total, probably 1-5 million people were killed, a number that the Chinese government claims is untrue. The revolution ended with the death of Mao Ze Dong in 1976, after which the Chinese people tried and sentenced four of his closest allies to death (the sentences were commuted to life in prison), including his wife, for their actions in the revolution (gang of four). The death of Mao ended one of the worst periods in the history of the modern world and it is a shame that not enough people know about it.


China after Mao and my personal experience

Mao has been dead for many years at this point, but that does not mean his influence has gone away. Unlike in Russia and Germany, kids are not taught about the atrocities that their former dictators committed, instead, In China Mao is seen as a sort of George Washington-like man who made little mistakes. He has giant statues of himself everywhere and has his portrait hung in the Forbidden City directly overlooking Tiananmen square (very ironic). The government that Mao created is still around today, albeit they have changed a lot. After Mao’s death, China stopped being communist in practice, however, they remained communist in name. They encouraged profit and got rid of public farms, even making a stock market in the 90s, something Mao would not have approved of. Just because they are no longer communist,does not mean that they are all of a sudden good guys in the eyes of the world. The CCP still commits massive human rights violations, whether that be getting rid of elections, suppressing free speech, forced labor (search up 2008 Olympics forced labor), the Tiananmen Square incident in 1989 and subsequent cover-up, and even making internment camps for Muslims in the west (of course, they deny this. Communist regimes tend to deny bad things in their history).

I, for one, have been to China many times and plan on returning there to visit family when I can. To be completely honest, if the CCP ever finds out about this article I would be in a world of trouble and might be prosecuted (it’s unlikely considering I’m a U.S. citizen, but still, wish me luck.) Whenever I go back to China, I don’t mention any of the things I just wrote out of fear of offending the people I have talked to or punishments from the state. Luckily, this is America, where you can write things like this, even about your own government, and get away with it, one of the great things about this country.

 I want to make myself clear, the Chinese people were manipulated and brainwashed to believe the CCP propaganda and worship Mao. Many of them, especially the younger generations, don’t know any better, so they are not the ones to blame for these atrocities. If you are ever interested in reading more about dictators around the world and China (trust me, this is just the surface) there are plenty of YouTube videos and articles that can explain this better than I can.