AKA Chairman Mao, AKA ‘The Great Helmsman’. (Tse-Tung can also be spelt Zedong. Translated the name means ‘To Shine on the East’.)
Kill tally: 14 to 20 million deaths from starvation during the ‘Great Leap Forward’. Tens of thousands killed and millions of lives ruined during the ‘Cultural Revolution’.
Background: The Chinese begin to emerge as a distinct civilisation around 2500 BC. China develops as an imperial power in 221 BC when rival states are unified under the First Emperor. The following 2,000 years will see a succession of dynasties, although strict cultural traditions will gradually suffocate innovation and development. The increased influence of Western powers during the 19th Century and expansionary incursions by the Russians and Japanese further weakens the imperial system, which is also faced with growing internal dissent.
The republican revolution begins among discontented army units in Wuchang in Hubei Province on 10 October 1911 and quickly spreads. By late November 15 of country’s the 24 provinces have declared their independence. On 12 February 1912 the last Manchu emperor, the child Puyi, abdicates. On 10 March Yuan Shikai, the commander-in-chief of the Imperial Army, is sworn in as provisional president of the Republic of China at a ceremony held in Beijing.
Mini biography: Born on 26 December 1893 in the village of Shaoshan in Hunan Province, in China’s south. His family are prosperous peasant farmers. He has two younger brothers and one sister.
Mao lives with his mother’s family in a neighbouring village until he is eight. He then returns to Shaoshan to begin his education. When he is 10 he runs away from school. Following his expulsion from at least three other schools, his father refuses to continue to pay for his education. Read the rest of this entry »