Mao Zedong was a Chinese communist revolutionary who was the founder of the People's Republic of China (PRC), which he ruled as the chairman of the Chinese Communist Party from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. Ideologically a Marxist–Leninist, his theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.
A controversial figure, Mao is regarded as one of the most important individuals in the twentieth century. He is also known as a political intellect, theorist, military strategist, and poet.
During Mao's era, China was involved in the Korean War, the Sino-Soviet split, the Vietnam War, and the rise of the Khmer Rouge. Mao has been credited with transforming China from a semi-colony to a powerful sovereign state, and increased literacy and life expectancy, but also ruled an autocratic and totalitarian regime responsible for mass repression, as well as the destruction of religious and cultural artifacts and sites.
It was additionally responsible for vast numbers of deaths with estimates ranging from 40 to 80 million victims through starvation, persecution, prison labor, and mass executions.
Here are some interesting facts about Mao Zedong.
Mao was a heavy smoker.
He often smoked even during formal meetings, but during one with Chiang Kai-shek, he immediately snuffed his after his rival indicated he was a non-smoker. Chiang was amazed and wary of this display of self-discipline. (George Hu's answer to Did Mao Zedong smoke?)
Mao was a critic of arranged marriage.
When he was 14, he was set up for an arranged marriage with a lady named Luo Yixiu. He never consummated the marriage and eventually left his hometown for work. A few years later, Luo passed away. Mao was still close to her side of the family as if they were his own relatives. Mao’s famous feminist quote might have been influenced by this experience.
Mao’s firstborn son died and was buried in North Korea.
Mao Anying volunteered to enlist in the Korean War and served as General Peng Dehuai’s secretary. He was killed in action during an air raid. Peng and Zhou Enlai tried to hide this news for some time, but eventually, he became aware. He sighed and said: "There will always be casualties in a war."
Mao actually had another son Mao Anqing.
He allegedly suffered from mental illness and was not favored by his father. In the 30s, when Mao was a revolutionary, he was forced to be separated from his sons. The two brothers lived on the streets and Anqing was beaten in the head. It was only a few years later that they were found and brought to their father. Anqing was also the father of Major-General Mao Xinyu.
Mao and Chiang Kai-shek both enjoyed calligraphy
Though their calligraphy had a different style. Chiang, much like his name, had writing that was centered, formal, and solid-as-a-rock. Mao however wrote in a more free-flowing cursive script calligraphy style. Supporters and critics have commented that their writing styles were symbolic of their personalities.