Mao Zedong was a Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he governed as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949, until his death in 1976. His Marxist-Leninist theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Marxism-Leninism-Maoism or Mao Zedong Thought.
Born the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan, Mao adopted a Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist outlook in early life, particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919. Mao converted to Marxism-Leninism while working at Peking University and became a founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927. During the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the CPC, Mao helped to found the Red Army, led the Jiangxi Soviet's radical land policies and ultimately became head of the CPC during the Long March. Although the CPC temporarily allied with the KMT under the United Front during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45), after Japan's defeat China's civil war resumed and in 1949 Mao's forces defeated the Nationalists who withdrew to Taiwan.
On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a one-party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years Mao solidified his control through land reform campaigns against landlords, and perceived enemies of the state he termed as "counter-revolutionaries." In 1957, he launched a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China's economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one, which led to a widespread famine whose death toll is estimated at between 18 and 45 million.
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