miles. After defeating Japanese forces during World War II, the Communists turned on the Kuomintang and established the People’s Republic of China in October 1949. Mao embraced a Marxist-Leninist vision of a worker’s revolution. In 1957 Mao launched the Great Leap Forward, a massive program of industrial and agricultural nationalization to catch up economically with the West. Villages were turned into Chinese “communes” and given unattainable production
goals by the state. Communes were ordered to produce steel in backyard mills by melting down any metal they could find. It was a national disaster and led to three years of famine for China. Mao blamed the failure on the bureaucracy of the Communist Party. In 1966 Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to purge the nation of any impure communists. He designated young people as “Red Guards,” empowered to report their parents, families and neighbors for any breach in party thought. In the violent chaos that followed, many died and millions were imprisoned. The economy stagnated and Chinese citizens lived in constant fear of arrest. The perpetual revolution only ended after Mao’s death. Born in Sichaun province, Deng Xiaoping was a close advisor to Mao and a veteran of “The Long March” of 1934. Deng was purged from the government during the Cultural Revolution, imprisoned, released and arrested two more times. After Maos’ death, Deng was politically “rehabilitated.” He was one of the only original Mao supporters to survive, and in 1978 ascended to become the new leader of the Chinese Communist Party.
- Fall '15