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article imageMao's 120th birthday celebration in China toned down

By Sean Fraser     Dec 26, 2013 in World
Beijing - Celebrations of the birthday of the man who built the foundation for modern China were held Thursday, but the extent of the festivities were not as extravagant as years past.
President Xi Jinping has scaled back celebrations of the influential Communist leader's birthday amid criticism from Communists about his sweeping economic reform plans.
Xi has passed legislation to relax China's infamous one-child rule and to stabilize China's growing economic markets. However, Xi still adheres to many Maoist philosophies and policies, despite having his father being imprisoned during Mao's Cultural Revolution.
Members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the ruling party's elite group, will be attending a celebration of Mao in Beijing. An unnamed Reuters source in China speculated that the presence of the committee is a move to placate Xi's critics.
"Because Mao was founder of the communist state, to commemorate Mao is to in fact demonstrate the legitimacy of their own rule," said Zhang Lifen, historian and political analyst, to the Seattle Times.
The Seattle Times also reported that the Communist Party's newspaper, People's Daily, stated in an editorial that Xi's economic reforms would be the "best commemoration" of Mao.
Mao Zedong was born December 26, 1893 in a rural farming community in Shaoshan, China, where his family owned a three-acre piece of land for several generations. He attended a small village school from ages eight to 13, and at 17, left his village to pursue secondary school in Changsha, the capital city of the Hunan Province.
Mao took up arms with the Revolutionary Party and the Kuomintang during the 1911 rebellion against the monarchy. The Kuomintang were successful, and formed the Republic of China. Mao continued to support the Kuomintang, which became the ruling party, and became one of the inaugural members of the Communist Party in 1921.
Relations between the Kuomintang and the Communists were destroyed in 1927 when new Chinese president Chiang Kai-Shek began killing and imprisoning Communists. Mao led an unsuccessful peasant uprising, but ultimately reorganized and formed the Soviet Republic of China in the Jiangxi Province.
Japan attacked China in 1937, and the weakened Chinese government reached out to Mao and the Communists for help. Japan was defeated in 1945, but China fell into a civil war between Chiang's government and Mao's Communists. Mao eventually won, driving Chiang and his supporters to Taiwan.
Under the new People's Republic of China, Mao set forth sweeping reform programs that would set the stage for modern China. Some of his policies included improving literacy and education, promoting the social status of women, and more access to health care.
His biggest project, launched in 1957, "The Great Leap Forward," increased the agricultural output of the nation. However, bad harvests and flooding ruined what would have been promising yields, and the project eventually failed. The failure would result in Mao being quietly removed from power in 1962.
In 1966, Mao led the Cultural Revolution, which put him back in power. Mao closed all public schools and "re-educated" citizens through hard manual labor. In 1972, he met with U.S. President Richard Nixon, which eased tensions between the two nations.
Mao died of complications from Parkinson's Disease in 1976. He left a legacy of murder, military genius, and political savvy that modern Chinese leaders envy.
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