Impact and Effects of Communist Mao Zedong in China

We Think Too Small.....

like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view.
Mao Zedong

The policies of Chairman Mao Zedong are very similar to a mountain range: full of high points & dangerous low points

There is no denying that the policies that he set in place shaped a nation and was the base of what we know of China today. However, the amount of lives, dreams, and aspirations that were lost as he brought his will down upon the people, can never be recovered. The Great Leap Forward, the Cult of Mao, the Cultural Revolution, his standpoint on women rights, and the Hundred Flowers policies all created the environment that pushed China towards the economic situation it was found in at the time of Mao’s death.

Enable every woman....

who can work to take her place on the labour front, under the principle of equal pay for equal work.

Mao Zedong

1945 Women in Chinese Culture

One of the more positive effects of Mao Zedong on the people of China was Mao’s viewpoint of woman. He claimed that women held up half of the heavens and abolished foot binding; a practice that hobbled women and kept them tied to their house, and outlawed prostitution. While he did not support birth control, he did encourage women to be the equal of men saying that “Protect the interests of the youth, women and children - provide assistance to young students who cannot afford to continue their studies, help the youth and women to organize in order to participate on an equal footing in all work useful to the war effort and to social progress, ensure freedom of marriage and equality as between men and women, and give young people and children a useful education....” (Zedong 1945)Since 1949, the role of women in the Chinese society has been totally changed. There are now women in all trades and professions. Women work side by side with men on a seemingly equal footing. The woman’s movement had been greatly promoted by the enforcement of the Marriage Law of 1950, which guaranteed the equality of sexes in marriage.

1958 - 1960 The Great Leap Forward

The Great Leap Forward held a great amount of appeal to Mao, although its application was a disaster. Starting in 1958 and going until 1960, the Great Leap Forward was a utopian plan to move the country towards “a spiritually mobilized populace simultaneously bringing about the full-scale modernization of China and its transition from socialism to communism within a few short decades.” (Oxford Reference 2009)What it really meant was a plan to increase agriculture and industrialization through centralism and communes. The plan was that the government could control the sale of agricultural goods if they also controlled the production of those goods. This would supposedly be easier if it could be done in larger groups to share the workload and the tools necessary to do the job. The propaganda machine of the CCP gave out larger numbers of the goals accomplished in order to give hope to the people to push them towards more output all the while people were starving to death. The local leaders of the communes were lying about the production and success of the agricultural numbers which led to more grains being sent to urban areas or being exported and not enough being left for the peasants in rural areas to consume. Part of this Great Leap Forward included steel production, in 1958 Mao was shown a backyard steel furnace and given the belief that steel could be produced there. He then encouraged the communes to produce their own steel, to the point of breaking down their own cooking and farming implements to create metal in the furnaces and using their own doors or household furniture when local sources for wood ran out. When he toured a real steel production plant in 1959, he chose not to tell the populace that steel was impossible to produce in backyard furnaces saying instead that the zeal of the workers should not be dampened. By the end of 1959, the steel requirement for communes was no longer in place, it had been quietly abandoned. It is estimated that between fourteen and forty million people died during the Great Leap Forward before the plan was abandoned in January 1961 at the Ninth Plenum of the Eighth Central Committee.

Let a hundred flowers bloom.

Mao Zedong

Hundred Flowers Campaign

Probably the most backhanded policy that Mao set in motion was the Hundred Flowers Campaign, in which Mao indicated his supposed willingness to listen to opinions about how China should be led. Given the freedom to express their views the Chinese intellectual community came forward. After a few months the government halted this policy and began to hunt and persecute those who criticized the government’s ways in what is called the Anti-Rightist Movement. Even Professor Rothschild has suggested that the campaign was merely a ruse to root out “dangerous” thinking. This is another example of how China lost some of its finest minds to the political party because of their dangerous ideas about how the country should be ran.

1962 - 1966 Cult of Mao

There can be no denying that many of the policies that Mao was able to push through depended upon the Cult of Mao. In 1962 the Socialist Education Movement began as an attempt to educate the peasants to resist capitalistic gains. Large quantities of politicized art were produced and circulated with Mao Zedong at the center. The Cult of Mao Zedong proved vital in starting the Cultural Revolution. Art for the sake of beauty was discouraged and all art should be to glorify China and its communist ways. All art forms are now propaganda for the political party, to include song, theater, posters, even statues. To take joy in something not related to the communist party was considered “bourgeois”. China’s youth had mostly been brought up during the Communist era, and they had been told to love Mao Zedong. Thus they were his greatest supporters. Their feelings for him were so strong that many followed his recommendation to challenge all established authority. Even during the height of the Tiananmen Square protests thirteen years after his death, defilement of his image was unacceptable.

Using the Cult of Mao, he was able to put in motion the Cultural Revolution, one of the most influential policies that Mao exerted upon his people. Starting in August of 1966 and continuing, according to the Chinese government, for two years, although many claim that it ended with Mao’s death in 1976. Many scholars claim that without the Cultural Revolution, China could not have started the period of modernization. The amount of people who died as Red Guards swept through the nation, seemingly with little to no order or reason to their actions, cannot be estimated. While many view the destruction of cultural artifacts and religions as the main point of this revolution, the real power behind the revolution was to bring the people away from ideas that did not belong inside a communist country.

On August 16th of 1966, eleven million Red Guards gathered in Tiananmen Square to hear words of encouragement for their actions from Mao himself. Using the zeal that the youth of China had for Chairman Mao, intellectuals were transported to rural areas to do manual labor on behalf of the party. Many of these so called intellectuals were students below the age of eighteen who would not return to their homes for four more years. Homes of citizens with other then communist background were broken into and artifacts that had value outside of the communist belief were broken. Red Guards led public beatings, humiliation, and killings of those with a bourgeois attitude of the CCP. Many of those beaten and publicly humiliated committed suicide. When confronted with these facts, Mao simply said “People who try to commit suicide — don't attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people.” During this time, local authorities and police were discouraged from intervening in any actions taken by the Red Guards and their zealous attack on the populace. The China that emerged at the end of these two years was a re-educated populace: they firmly believed that the communist way was the right way, after all, if they did not believe that they could very realistically lose their home, family, even their lives. “Once the Cultural Revolution had been left behind, the partisans of the capitalist path were encouraged to go over to the offensive.” (Amin 2006)

Greatness Through Communism

The impact that Mao Zedong had upon the Chinese people will be seen for many years after his death. While every step of his campaign may have held pain and suffering for his people, they love him all the more for his treatment of the people. Perhaps China could move towards a democracy in the years to come, however I do not think they could have done so without first having gone through the painful ways of communism. The Great Leap Forward, the Cult of Mao, the Cultural Revolution, the changes in woman rights, and the Hundred Flowers Campaign are all events that have shaped the Chinese people into who they are today on their road towards modernization. One cannot deny that even if Chairman Mao made a mess of his country, he wanted to lead his people into greatness through communism.

Books about Chinese History


Amin, Samir. Monthly Review Commentary. September 2006. (accessed February 3, 2009).

CNN In Depth Special Mao Zedong. 2001. (accessed Febraury 3, 2009).

Hutton, Will. The Guardian. January 18, 2007. (accessed February 3, 2009).

Oxford Reference. Mao Zedong From The Oxford Companion to Politics of the World. 2009. (accessed February 3, 2009).

Zedong, Mao. Quotations From Mao Zedong. April 24, 1945. (accessed February 03, 2009).

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Comments 8 comments

bill J. Nasment 4 years ago

hello !!

Que 3 years ago

This is interesting

ERICKVALLELY 3 years ago

There's a more realistic view on this. Do a search for the unknown cultural revolution. The more the west tries to demonise Mao, the more it shows how great Mao truly was. He was a man of the people, nothing like the crooks that you see running the U.S. and Europe.

Amanda 3 years ago

I think it was good that Mao outlawed foot binding. I searched it up, it looks disgusting!

Peter 3 years ago

Read 'Mao, the unknown story', by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, and you will see what a monster Mao Tse Tung was! Her parents served in the Red Army. I am amazed that China has come out so well after the atrocities he committed on his people. I do not believe that Mao did anything 'good' for his people, except finally leave the planet.

Robert Mcgrai; 12 months ago

i loved this article

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Missing Link 9 months ago from Oregon

Mao is easily one of the greatest villains of the past 100 years. He led many millions of his own people to a horrible death.

A c Ro 6 months ago


Mao is directly responsible for the deaths of over 20 million people and you think he was a swell guy?

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