Hard to imagine, but perhaps because it has been some 41 years since his death, there are a lot of people don’t recall who Mao Tse-Tung was. And it was even reported that many Chinese students, currently studying in the U.S., have very little or no idea who Chairman Mao was either.
Hard to believe – and I wouldn’t if you told me, had I not experienced it first hand in a college Media class a few years back. Part of the reason I actually decided to do this website was because of that episode, and my complete shock at realizing people have very little idea what went on as little as a few years ago, let alone decades.
But all that said – CBC Radio in Canada produced a series of documentaries about China during the Mao years, when the country went from the era of Chiang-Kai Shek and the Japanese occupation of northern China, to the establishment of the Communist Party and it’s eventual takeover of China in 1949 by way of civil war.
China, during the first few years of rule under Mao was an instrumental player in the Korean War; aiding North Korea and establishing a relationship with that country ever since. China, during Maos time had a series of on-again-off-again relationships with a number of countries, including India, Pakistan, many of the newly-independent nations in Africa; sided with North Vietnam during the Vietnam War, has always had a tenuous relationship with Russia; sometimes warm, oft times cold. But since that time has taken an economic tact, rather than a political one in the affairs of the world.
No doubt, the China of today would cause Mao to do somersaults in his grave – it is a whole different world since the days of The Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution. But the seeds that were planted have yielded results in other areas. For a Communist Nation, there are aspects of China more Capitalist than even the U.S. – and it was that importance placed on industrialization during the Mao period that has translated into China becoming one of the most productive and trade-influenced nations in the world.
So perhaps the notion that the socio-political destiny of a nation is somewhat akin to the Chinese Restaurant menu (one from Column A and one from Column B) – that maybe this mixing of political and economic ideologies has found a common ground.
But there is still the specter of Tiananmen Square and the violent crackdown which took place that gives you the impression anything can turn about face at a moments notice. But that’s another story.
For now – familiarize yourself with Chairman Mao-Tse Tung if you aren’t already, and catch up on some history.