Mao Zedong: Revolutionary Hero or Despot

Mao is predominantly featured in the Peoples Military Museum in Beijing China as a Hero of the Revolution. From the early days of the 20th century when the communist party was formed to the struggles against the nationalist Mao’s leadership was indispensable. During WW2 the Nationalist and Communists formed an alliance against the Japanese during which time American General Vinegar Joe Stilwell said of Mao and the communist, “Somehow we must get arms to the Communists, who will fight.” Mao and the communists, for their efforts in WW2, won the support of the peasantry which at that time made up 90% of the population.

Across from Tiananmen Square is the Tiananmen Tower from which hangs a portrait of Mao. This building is arguably the site of Mao’s greatest triumph. From this tower on October 1, 1949 Mao declared the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

During the beginning of the second half of the 20th century Mao made a number of missteps. Most notable was the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution which were ill conceived programs ending in the deaths of countless Chinese.

In Tiananmen Square is the Mao Zedong Mausoleum which houses under crystal glass Mao’s body. On most days there are long lines of people that file past the body. And in these lines are many people who are crying.

Many Chinese today recognize that Mao Zedong was both a hero and a despot. From a young man and until 1949 Mao was a great Chinese hero. His latter life proves again that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

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