Mao Zedong is considered the founder of modern China. He was born in 1893 to a peasant family in Hunan province, and later joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1921. Throughout his life, Mao was an advocate for national independence, agrarian reform, and social justice. As chairman of the CPC, Mao successfully led the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and declared the People’s Republic of China.
Mao’s power peaked during the Great Leap Forward (1958-1962), a period of intense industrialization and collectivization of agriculture. During this time, the Chinese population grew rapidly and the economy saw tremendous growth. It was also during this period that Mao began launching the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This period was known for its extreme violence and disruption of traditional Chinese culture and values. Under Mao’s leadership, millions of people were purged, persecuted or executed by government officials.
The reforms enacted by Mao, although controversial and often oppressive, were instrumental in creating the foundation for modern China. Before Mao, China was under the control of the Kuomintang (KMT), a nationalist party determined to hold onto to a traditional, conservative Chinese culture. After the Chinese Revolution, Mao implemented sweeping reforms to dismantle the pre-existing economic structure, had heritage sites demolished, and inspired national identity based on the principles of communism. His reforms sought to better distribute land and resources among the people of China. He encouraged rural education and health services, as well as providing food, shelter, and clothing to the impoverished.
Under Mao’s rule, China moved away from an agrarian economy reliant on imperial support, towards an industrial, capitalist society connected with Western powers. In the wake of his death in 1976, subsequent Chinese leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, continued to expand upon his original reforms and continue the market reforms that have created the modern China of today.
In conclusion, Mao Zedong is considered the founder of modern China. His leadership and reforms helped lead to the creation of a more prosperous, industrialized country with stronger ties to the West. Although Mao is still a divisive and controversial figure, it is undeniable that he was instrumental in changing the course of Chinese history.