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How did Mao become leader of the CCP?. L/O – To identify how Mao took control of the CCP. 1893 - Born in Hunan province, rich peasant family 1901-6 – Attended primary school 1912 – Joined anti-Qing army in Hunan 1912-8 – Trained as a teacher 1918 – Joined the Hunan independence movement

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how did mao become leader of the ccp

How did Mao become leader of the CCP?

L/O – To identify how Mao took control of the CCP


1893 - Born in Hunan province, rich peasant family

  • 1901-6 – Attended primary school
  • 1912 – Joined anti-Qing army in Hunan
  • 1912-8 – Trained as a teacher
  • 1918 – Joined the Hunan independence movement
  • 1919 – Worked as librarian at Beijing Uni. Organised strikes in Hunan.
  • 1921 – Became a founding member of CCP.
  • 1923 – Joined the KMT.
  • 1924-7 – Involved in planning CCP/KMT alliance against Warlords.
  • 1927-34 – Created the Jiangxi Soviet.
  • 1930 – Suppressed a mutiny in Red Army at Futian 10,000+ killed
  • 1934-5 – Led the Long March to Yanan
  • 1935-45 – Created the Yanan Soviet
  • 1942 – Crushed opposition within the CCP using torture.
  • 1945-49 – Led the CCP to victory over KMT
  • 1949 – Declaration of the creation of the People’s Republic of China
mao s early years
Mao’s Early Years
  • Born into rich peasant family. Father worked hard, mother was religious Buddhist.
  • Often fell out with father, refused to show him respect. He didn’t like working, always wanted to read.
  • Volunteered in anti-Qing army during 1911.
  • Introduced to Marxism at Beijing University, where he worked as a librarian in 1919.
mao as a chinese revolutionary 1911 1927
Mao as a Chinese Revolutionary 1911-1927

‘All power grows out of the barrel of a gun’.

  • Mao came to believe in the dialectic as the explanation of life. i.e. the Marxist notion that historical development occurs through a progressive series of conflicts between social classes.
  • He held the belief that all change, all progress, resulted from suppression of the weaker by the stronger.
  • During the Warlord Period, he saw first hand how force could be used:

‘A revolution is not a tea party; it is an act of violence, by which one class overthrows another’.

mao as a chinese revolutionary 1911 19271
Mao as a Chinese Revolutionary 1911-1927

‘During my student days in Hunan, the city was overrun by the forces of rival war lords – not once but half a dozen times. Twice the school was occupied by troops and all the school funds confiscated. The brutal punishments inflicted on the peasants included such things as gouging out eyes, ripping out tongues, disembowelling and decapitation, slashing with knives and grinding with sand, burning with kerosene and branding with red-hot irons.’

  • Mao realised that it was the strongest and most ruthless who always won. The only way to gain power was through violence.
  • The rise to power of the Bolsheviks in the 1917 Russian Revolution seemed to confirm his beliefs.
mao at jiangxi 1927 34
Mao at Jiangxi 1927-34
  • After the 1927 Shanghai Massacre, Mao led his CCP forces to the mountains of Jiangxi province and organised guerrilla resistance.
  • He spent 7 years developing the Jiangxi Soviet, dedicated to peasant revolution. He clashed with the COMINTERN who wanted him to focus on urban workers.
  • It was at Jiangxi where Mao developed his taste for using torture and purges to gain control.
mao at jiangxi 1927 341

‘They were brought out to be tortured, women as well as men… they were tortured to make them speak and they were tortured on Mao’s orders. These is a document in the party archives which Mao approved which says, ‘do not kill the important leaders too quickly, but squeeze out of them the maximum information; then from the clues they give you can go on to unearth others.’

Mao at Jiangxi 1927-34
  • In 1930, he had no qualms in torturing & executing some 4000 Red Army troops, accused of being KMT spies. Some estimate over 10,000!
  • This incident became known as the ‘Futian incident’. It strengthened Mao’s control until the CCP leadership arrived in 1932.
  • Zhou Enlaiand Bo Guousted Mao from his military positions.
the long march 1934 35
The Long March 1934-35

Mao on the tactics of the Red Army, 1930

When the enemy advances, we retreat.

When the enemy halts, we harass.

When the army retires, we attack.

When the enemy retreats, we pursue.

  • The Jiangxi Soviet was crushed in 1934. The KMT between 1930-1934 launched 5 massive extermination campaigns.
  • The first 4 were failures due to the guerrilla tactics used by Mao’s forces.
  • However the KMT encircled the base area entirely in 1934 and Mao led the communists to escape north to Yanan in Shaanxi province.
the fifth extermination campaign
The Fifth Extermination Campaign
  • In Summer 1933, Chiang used new tactics suggested by General Hans von Seeckt, a German military advisor.
  • Seeckt used ‘blockhouse’ tactics. The KMT surrounded the Kiangsi Soviet with ½ m troops and advanced slowly building blockhouses, digging trenches & putting up barbed wire fences.
  • This prevented food getting in or out.
the fifth extermination campaign1
The Fifth Extermination Campaign
  • The Communists abandoned Guerrilla Warfare and under the influence of Otto Braun, launched a series of disastrous pitched battles.
  • By summer the communists were surrounded by four lines of blockhouses & close to starvation.
  • By Oct 1934, they had lost ½ of their territory as well as 60,000 troops.

Otto Braun – German Communist and Comintern agent who was sent to China by Soviet Russia to give military advice to the CCP

the break out october 1934
The Break Out – October 1934
  • On the suggestion of Otto Braun, on 16th Oct 1934, 87,000 soldiers began a retreat.
  • They took as much equipment & guns as they could carry and took them 6 weeks to break out of the ring of blockhouses.
  • At the end of Nov 1934, the Red Army reached the Xiang River and lost over half their number fighting the KMT.
mao takes over january 1935
Mao Takes Over – January 1935

Mao had outmanoeuvred his opponents in the CCP and imposed his idea that to be successful the revolution in China must be based on the peasants in the countryside, not on the workers in the towns.

The Zunyi Conference was thus a major milestone in Mao’s eventual control of the Party.

  • In Jan 1935 they reached Zunyi, where a meeting was held. Braun was blamed for the defeat at the Xiang River:
    • He had allowed them to carry to much equipment which slowed them down.
    • The retreat was in a straight line which helped the KMT predict where they were headed.
  • Leadership of the march was handed to Mao and Zhu De.
progress in 1935 january october
Progress in 1935 – January-October
  • Under their new leadership, the march took off in a new direction, often changing routes & splitting forces.
  • One of the most famous events was the crossing of the Dadu River. 22 soldiers swung across the river gorge on chains whilst under fire.
arrival october 1935
Arrival – October 1935
  • In October 1935 they had reached their destination of the poor communist base at Yanan in Shaanxi province.They had:
    • Fought dozens of battles
    • Crossed 24 rivers
    • Crossed 18 mountain ranges
    • Covered 24 miles a day
    • 6000 miles in total
    • 30,000 reached destination out of 100,000
importance of the march
Importance of the March

1.) Which is the most important consequence of the march? Why?

2.) How did the success of the march help boost CCP support across China?

  • The CCP had survived and found a new base which was remote and safe from attack from the KMT & Japanese
  • Mao was hailed as a great hero and was re-established as the unchallenged leader of the CCP
  • Many Chinese saw the CCP as heroes & Long March became part of CCP mythology
  • The good behaviour of the Red Army impressed peasants
the yanan years 1935 1945
The Yanan Years 1935-1945

Rectification of Conduct Campaigns – A serious of ferocious purges by which Mao removed any member of the CCP he suspected of opposing him.

  • During this time Mao succeeded in imposing his personal authority on the CCP.
  • He also fought off attempts by the Stalin and the COMINTERN to dominate the party.
  • During the 1940s, he launched a series of ‘rectification campaigns’ to consolidate his hold. He also wrote his major political works setting out his revolutionary ideas.
victory of the kmt 1945 1949
Victory of the KMT 1945-1949
  • With the surrender of Japan at the end of WW2, Mao turned on the KMT again.
  • A fierce 4-year struggle for supremacy of China ended with complete victory for the Communists.
  • Chiang and the KMT were driven to Taiwan.
  • In October 1949, Mao triumphantly declared that a new Communist society had come into being – the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
review how did mao become leader of the ccp
Review – How did Mao become leader of the CCP?
  • Early Years– Mao became politically aware during his time at Middle School in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province. In 1911 He joined an anti-Qing rebel army in support of the nationalists but saw no action.
  • He later dropped out of school and spent time in Changsha library studying political philosophers of Western liberalism like Adam Smith, Montesquieu, Darwin and Rousseau.
  • In 1912-18 he trained to be a teacher in Changsha, where he read New Youth magazine by Chen Duxiu. In April 1917 he had an article published, instructing readers to increase their physical strength to serve the revolution!
review how did mao become leader of the ccp1
Review – How did Mao become leader of the CCP?
  • Time in Beijing – In 1919, he worked as assistant librarian at Beijing University. It is here that he began to read Marxism, attending lectures by Chen Duxiu.
  • Student Organiser– In 1919-1920, Mao moved back to Changsha to work as a history teacher. There he co-founded the Hunanese Student Association and began production of a radical magazine – Xiang River Review. His articles became famous throughout China and in 1920, Mao organised students protests in support of the KMT.
  • CCP Founded– In 1921, Mao attended the first meeting of the CCP, where he was made Party Secretary for Hunan. He spent most of his time in Changsha, distributing revolutionary literature and recruiting people to communism.
review how did mao become leader of the ccp2
Review – How did Mao become leader of the CCP?
  • Collaboration with KMT – In 1923, Mao was elected to the Party Committee of the CCP and also to KMT Central Committee, working to implement the United Front. He was appointed to run the KMT’s Peasant Movement Training Institute, organising Hunanese peasants and preparing them for military activity in the Northern March.
  • Commander in Chief – In 1927-28, Mao is appointed commander-in-chief of the Red Army. He led the failed Autumn Harvest Uprising on Changsha and escaped with his army group to Jiangxi.
review how did mao become leader of the ccp3
Review – How did Mao become leader of the CCP?
  • Jiangxi Soviet – In 1929-34, Mao established the Jiangxi Soviet. Here he faced criticism for being anti-revolutionary and in the ‘Futian Incident’, Mao put down the rebels, with his loyalists executing and torturing many. In Nov, the CCP Central Committee moved to Jiangxi and Mao lost control of the army to Zhou Enlai.
  • Long March– In Jan 1935, the Red Army captured the city of Zunyi. It was here that Mao outmanoeuvred his rivals and was elected Chairman of the Politburo – de facto leader of both Party and Red Army. In Nov 1935, Mao was declared Chairman of the Military Commission as well.
review how did mao become leader of the ccp4
Review – How did Mao become leader of the CCP?
  • Yanan Years– In 1935-45, Mao consolidated his hold on the Party further, using ‘Rectification Campaigns’ in 1942 to purge and torture opponents and ‘Thought Reform Campaigns’ to indoctrinate new recruits. Membership had grown to 800,000 by 1940 and Mao was holding down Japanese troops with his Guerrilla Tactics. With the defeat of the Japanese in 1945, Mao was elected Party Chairman.

What was the key turning point in Mao’s rise to power?