The situation faced by China at the beginning of the twentieth century was complicated and inauspicious. The destiny of the country was about to change after the end of the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong. Being treated like a living god during his lifetime, he has become one of the major figures in the world history of the twentieth century, and his legacy still arises numerous controversial issues. His actions and strategies have received much criticism and condemnation from both Chinese and foreign historians and common people. Investigating Mao Zedong’s influence on China’s twentieth-century development is of vital importance for understanding the specifics of his governance and analyzing its results.
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The attitudes to the influence of Mao Zedong’s governance on the development of China in the twentieth century are mostly controversial, as the actions of the leader were controversial too. Mao Zedong is considered a savior of China by many people as he united the country and encouraged it to get rid of the brutal dictator Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists. He transformed China from a weak country exploited by Western countries and Japan into one of the most influential world powers. During the governance of Mao Zedong, China was modernized and became much stronger than it had been before. All of these contributions make many people consider Mao Zedong “national liberator and “socialist prophet” (Krieger 65).
In the same time, the ruthlessness and meaninglessness of many of the leader’s actions create an opposite view shared by numerous people considering Mao a cruel dictator, who had a bad impact on the development of China. His inclination to “brutal suppression of his enemies” and mass murders has deserved a huge amount of deserved criticism (Gay 8). Besides, his politics led to one of the most severe famines in China, which resulted in nearly 15-20 million deaths caused by starvation (Karl 107). The uncoordinated violence of the Cultural Revolution set by Mao brought the incalculable number of deaths (Spence 164). The bloody methods used by the leader to retain the power caused millions of deaths and cannot be justified in any way.
The article “Mao Zedong: Liberator or Oppressor of China” explores the biography of the leader and his actions while being the head of the People’s Republic of China. I liked the investigation of the roots of Mao’s disposition to violence found in his childhood presented in the article. However, I did not like the one-sidedness of the article. The leader is characterized as “ready to use brutal means”, having “no compunction in torturing and executing”, etc. (Lynch 11). The article illustrates the violence used by the leader to embody his ideas and explores the drawbacks of his governance. It pays very little attention to the progress made by the People’s Republic of China during Mao’s governance.
The textbook appears to be more objective, as it describes both achievements and defects of Mao Zedong’s governance. While determining the crimes made by Zedong’s dictatorship, the textbook defines his contribution to the development of China by mentioning the reunion of China, supporting equal rights for women, eliminating economic inequality, speeding up economic development, and other positive changes made by the leader (Bentley and Ziegler 879). In my opinion, the textbook presents information about Mao Zedong in a more comprehensive and unbiased way than the article does.
The analysis of the main features of Mao Zedong’s governance helps to understand the huge drawbacks of the strategies used by him to control the power and see some of the positive influences that gave China a possibility to become a world power.
Bentley, Jerry, and Herbert Ziegler. Traditions & Encounters, Volume 2: From 1500 to the Present, New York: McGraw-Hill Education. 2007. Print.
Gay, Kathlyn. Mao Zedong’s China, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Twenty-first Century Books, 2008. Print.
Karl, Rebecca. Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World: A Concise History, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 2010. Print.
Krieger, Joel. The Oxford Companion to Comparative Politics, New York: Oxford University Press USA, 2012. Print.
Lynch, Michael. “Mao Zedong: Liberator or Oppressor of China.” History Review 43 (2002): 10-15. Print.
Spence, Jonathan. Mao Zedong: A Life, New York: Penguin Group, 2006. Print.