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Dictionary of World Biography
Changsha teachers’ training school. Unlike *Li Lisan,
*Zhu De and *Zhou Enlai, he did not study abroad.
Mao worked as a laundry man in Shanghai (1919),
then as a teacher, trade union secretary and library
assistant at Peking National University. He was
one of the 12 foundation members of the Chinese
Communist Party in Shanghai (July 1921, *Chen
Du-xiu). As CCP secretary in Hunan 1921–25, he
organised trades unions and worked closely with the
Guomindang. He set up more than 50 peasant unions
1925–27. After the risings of 1927 were defeated in
the cities, he founded a workers’ and peasants’ army in
Hunan with Zhu De and was a political commissar of
the Red Army 1930–31. In 1930 his second wife Yang
Kaihui and his sister were executed by a Guomindang
warlord. Ultimately he won major support from the
Central Committee for his view that revolution must
be based on the peasantry rather than the proletariat
which barely existed in China. Mao was Chairman
of the Soviet Republic in Jiangxi Province 1931–34.
Chairman of the CCP from January 1935 until his
death in September 1976, he was only recognised as
the dominant leader after the ‘Long March’ (October
1934 – October 1935, with the rear guard arriving in
January 1936). After repeated Guomindang attacks,
80,000 people walked 9650 kilometres, fighting 15
major battles on the way, from Jiangxi to the caves in
Yan’an, Shaanxi Province: only 20,000 survived and
Mao’s three children were lost on the way. From 1937
to 1945 Mao collaborated with *Chiang Kaishek
against the Japanese. By 1945 the Red Army had
1,000,000 soldiers and controlled the northwest.
Civil war resumed in 1946. On the Guomindang’s
defeat and withdrawal to Taiwan, Mao proclaimed
the foundation of the Chinese Peoples’ Republic (1
October 1949) and served as Chairman (i.e. President)
1949–59, retiring as head of state to devote himself
to party organisation and ideological formation. He
visited the USSR Dec. 1949–Feb. 1950, for his first
and only meeting with *Stalin, who resented Mao’s
success and had failed to support the resumption
of civil war in China in 1945. The outbreak of the
Korean War in June 1950 surprised Mao, who saw it
as a Soviet operation. The US, however, was convinced
that China had instigated the war. When *MacArthur
proposed to bomb Chinese bases north of the Yalu
River in October 1950, China sent volunteers to
Korea. Stalin then reduced his commitment to *Kim
Il Sung, putting China in jeopardy. Mao returned to
Moscow in 1953 (for Stalin’s funeral) and in 1957 to
meet *Khrushchev. After a brief period of liberalism
(‘Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom’) in 1956–57, came
the Great Leap Forward (1958–61), a period of forced
collectivisation in agriculture, mass mobilisation
of labour and the introduction of small scale
industrialisation. Food supply collapsed and deaths
due to starvation have been estimated at 30 million.
China occupied Tibet in 1959 and exploded its first
atom bomb in 1964. The Great Proletarian Cultural
Revolution was launched in 1965, as an attack on
bureaucracy and privilege, but also on China’s history,
culture and tradition. Western cultural influence
was also denounced. *Zhou Enlai was abused but
survived as Premier. *Deng was publicly humiliated,
*Liu Shaoqi disgraced and imprisoned. Mao’s
Communism was highly moralistic, decentralised
and ostensibly anti-bureaucratic. Unlike the Soviet
CP, Mao used rival forces (e.g. the army, Red Guards)
to discipline the party organisation. He wrote many
works on ideology and strategy and was a gifted
lyric poet and ‘grass’ (i.e. vernacular) calligrapher.
His precepts (‘Mao Zedong thought’), as contained
in the ‘little red book’, had the force of moral law.
The Red Guards were especially destructive. In the
Cultural Revolution some of the worst outrages were
attributable to Kang Sheng (c.1900–1975), chief
of the secret police and Chen Boda, one of Mao’s
secretaries. Perhaps four million people were killed in
the terror. In 1968 the army stepped in and imposed
some degree of military rule, which weakened Mao’s
position. After the defection of his chosen successor
*Lin Biao in 1971, Mao’s direct power declined
even further. From 1973 he was virtually blind and
helpless until his death in Beijing. His third wife
Jiang Qing (1914?-1991), formerly called Lan Ping,
was a film actor before her marriage in 1938. In 1966
she emerged as a public figure, took a leading role
in the Cultural Revolution, rose to fourth place in
the Politburo and was a fierce opponent of Zhou.
Demoted at the 1973 Congress, she was denounced
as one of the ‘Gang of Four’ and given a suspended
death sentence in 1981 after a show trial. She died in
prison, probably by suicide.
Wilson. D., Mao: The People’s Emperor. 1979; Terrill,
R., Mao. 1980; Salisbury, H., The New Emperors: Mao
and Deng. 1992.
Marat, Jean Paul (1743–1793). French revolutionary
journalist. A physician, especially interested in optics,
he had travelled much and spent many years in
England before returning to France and becoming
physician to the Duke of Artois’ household troops.
After the outbreak of the Revolution he founded
(1789) an extremist newspaper L’Ami du peuple which
in 1793 played a considerable part in rousing public
opinion against the Girondists. Charlotte *Corday,
a member of that party, came from Normandy to
assassinate him, found him in his bath where, as a
sufferer from a skin disease (probably dermatitis
herpetiformis), he transacted much business, and
stabbed him to death.
Marceau, Marcel (1923–2007). French mime, born
in Strasbourg. From 1949 he directed his own mime
company, and a school of mime-drama in Paris from
1978. He toured incessantly, appearing in film, ballet
and on television.
Marchand, Jean Baptiste (1863–1934). French
soldier and explorer. Having successfully led an
expedition from Senegal to the sources of the Niger
he was ordered to extend the area of French interest
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