Mao was a tyrant who manipulated everyone and everything he could in pursuit of personal power. From his earliest years he was motivated by a lust for power. Mao had many political opponents arrested and murdered, regardless of their relationship with him. During the 1920s and 1930s, Mao could not have gained control of the party without Stalin's patronage, nor were Mao's decisions during the Long March as heroic and ingenious as claimed by the communist party and thereby entered the mythology of the revolution.
Areas under Communist control during the Second United Front and Chinese Civil War, such as the Jiangxi and Yan'an soviets, were ruled through terror and financed by opium. Mao sacrificed thousands of troops simply in order to get rid of party rivals. Despite being born into a wealthy peasant (kulak) family, when Mao came to power in 1949 he had little concern for the welfare of the Chinese peasantry. Mao's determination to use agricultural surplus to subsidize industry and intimidation of dissent led to murderous famines resulting from the Great Leap Forward, exacerbated by allowing the export of grain to continue even when it became clear that China did not have sufficient grain to feed its population.
The Long March
The Long March was not the courageous effort portrayed by the Chinese Communist Party and that Mao's role in leading it was exaggerated. The march is a myth that has been tweaked and exaggerated throughout the decades by the Chinese government. They argue that today the Long March's validity is questionable, because it has diverged so far from reality. Officially portrayed as an inspiring commander, the authors write that he was nearly left behind by the March and only commanded a fairly small force. He was apparently disliked by almost all of the people on the March and his tactics and strategy were flawed. They also write that Chiang Kai-shek allowed the Communists to proceed without significant hindrance. They provided the communists with maps and allowed them to escape the clutches of his army because his son was being held hostage in Moscow and he feared he would be killed if the Communists failed.
Mao was a privileged person who was usually carried around in litters and protected from the suffering of his subordinates, rather than sharing their hardship.
Mao didn’t just tolerated the production of opium in regions that the Communists controlled during the Chinese Civil War but also participated in the trade of it, in order to provide funding for his soldiers. According to Russian sources that the authors state they found, at the time the trade generated around $60 million a year for the Communists. This was stopped only due to overproduction driving down the price and Communist officials other than Mao deciding that the practice was immoral.
Mao exposed men under his command to unnecessary suffering just to eliminate his opponents. Zhang Guotao, a rival in the Politburo, was sent with his army in 1936 on a hopeless mission into the Gobi desert. When it inevitably failed Mao ordered that the survivors be executed.
Mao used other underhanded means in eliminating opponents. Apart from general purges like the Hundred Flowers Campaign and other operations like the Cultural Revolution, he had Wang Ming (another Politburo rival) poisoned twice, who had to seek treatment in Russia.
Number of deaths under Mao
"Mao Tse-tung, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one-quarter of the world's population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth century leader.He was willing for half of China to die to achieve military-nuclear superpowerdom. Estimates of the numbers of deaths during this period vary "the exact figure... has been estimated by well-informed writers at between 40 and 70 million".
China scholars agree that the famine during the Great Leap Forward caused tens of millions of deaths, the figure being estimated as high as 37.67 million, which historian Stuart Schram indicated that he believes "may well be the most accurate." Yang Jisheng, a Communist party member and former reporter for Xinhua, puts the number of famine deaths at 36 million. In his 2010 book Mao's Great Famine, Hong Kong based historian Frank Dikötter, who has had access to newly opened local archives, places the death toll for the Great Leap Forward at 45 million.
Mao, Stalin and the Korean War
Stalin held the power over Mao. He held military and nuclear secrets, and he was careful not to share too much power or control. Stalin approved and disapproved of each of Mao’s plans of Asian takeover.
At the end of WWII, Korea had been split in two at the 38th parallel, with Russia occupying the north and the US the south. The communist north, ruled by Kim Il Sung, wanted to take over the south. Stalin said “No” not wanting to confront Americans. Mao offered to put in Chinese soldiers saying that Americans would not be able to tell the difference between the Chinese and Koreans. Mao thought that Chinese soldiers would fight the Americans for Stalin in exchange for Soviet technology and equipment.
Mao summed up his overall plan for the Korean War to Stalin: “to spend several years consuming several hundred thousand American lives.”
A problem for Mao was the US had complete air supremacy and artillery superiority of about 40:1. If China got directly involved, America might bomb China’s big cities and destroy its industrial base, possibly dropping atomic bombs on China. Mao gambled that America would not expand the war to China and if so, Russia would protect the cities. He was also convinced that America could not defeat him because of his one fundamental asset—millions of expendable Chinese.
Mao’s great asset in his drive for equal status with Russia was China’s manpower. A Russian said to a top communist that “We don’t need to be afraid of America any more. The Chinese army and our friendship with China have altered the whole world situation, and America can’t do a thing about it.”
Rather than reluctantly entering the conflict as the Chinese government suggests, Mao is alleged to have deliberately entered the Korean War, having promised Chinese troops to Kim Il Sung then leader of North Korea.
Kim ceded command to the Chinese. Mao had taken over Kim’s war. The Chinese pushed the Americans back at a horrendous cost to their own men. “The temperature had dropped to minus 30 degrees centigrade. The troops are very run down, their feet are incapacitated by frostbite, and they have to sleep in the open….Most troops have not received coats and padded shoes. Their padded jackets and blankets have been burned out by napalm. Many soldiers are still wearing thin cotton shoes, and some are even bare foot…”
Mao didn’t care how many Chinese he lost because there were so many. Mao was appealing to Stalin by seriously weakening America in exchange for Stalin helping him build a first-class army and arms industry. Mao wanted factories for building military items and blue prints to all of the Russian weapons they were using. Stalin had no desire to endow Mao with a full-blown arms industry, so he stonewalled for months.
Meanwhile, Kim saw that he might end up ruling over a wasteland and asked Mao to negotiate with the U.S., Mao wasn’t near his goal and had hijacked the war. Stalin thought that engaging in peace talks would be good for the communist image. Most items were settled fairly swiftly, but there was one sticking point. The forced repatriation of POWs. With the memory of handing back tens of thousands of POWs to their deaths at the end of WWII, America rejected the agreement and the war was prolonged for a year and a half longer.
Bu early 1952 Kim was desperate to end the war. US Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk observed: “There was nothing left to bomb. The population was declining to critical survival levels, with perhaps one-third of adult males killed.” Stalin and Mao persisted. Stalin stated: “The North Koreans have lost nothing, except for casualties.” The US had lost well over 3,000 aircraft in Korea and some 37,000 dead.
Stalin had been doling out parts of Asia to Mao since before the war, giving Mao tentacles into half a dozen Asian countries.
On February 2, 1953 Eisenhower suggested the US may have to use the atomic bomb on China. Mao actually liked this news as it allowed him to pressure Stalin for nuclear weapons. Stalin didn’t want to give Mao the Bomb and was worried about Eisenhower. Stalin decided to end the Korean War. He told his colleagues that he was planning to act the next day, and was felled by a stroke that night that would kill him a few days later.
Stalin’s death was Mao’s liberation, however the new leaders in Russia also wanted to end the war. Mao still wanted to persist until he could get the Bomb, but it was made clear to him that would not happen and he ended the war in order to stay on good terms with Russia.
Two-thirds of the 21,374 Chinese POWs refused to return to communist China, and most went to Taiwan. More than 3 million Chinese men were put into Korea, among whom up to 1 million died.
What was Kim Il Sung’s, the leader of North Korea, motive for starting the Korean War?
What were Mao’s motives for instigating the Korean War?
What was Stalin’s motive for supporting Mao during the Korean War?
What was the United States motive for entering the Korean War?
What was the result of the war for North Korea?
What was the result of the war for China?
What was the result of the war for the United States?