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The body of Mao Zedong rests in its crystal coffin.

The body of Mao Zedong rests in its crystal coffin.

In a recent post, “Monster Mao,” I blogged about the Chinese communist leader, Mao Zedong, and his disastrous leadership.

Besides being selfish and cruel, Mao Zedong had some disgusting personal habits. He did not like to bathe. According to his personal physician, Dr. Li, Mao liked young girls and fatty pork. Like many Chinese of his time, Mao Zedong never brushed his teeth. Instead he rinsed with green tea and chewed the leaves. Dr. Li pleaded with his patient to brush but Mao refused, reportedly stating,

“A tiger never brushes his teeth.”

Consequently, Mao’s teeth looked like they were coated with green paint. As he grew older, his teeth fell out and he became toothless.

Mao also loved to chain smoke English cigarettes. Dr. Li begged him to cut down. Mao’s response:

“Smoking is also a form of deep-breathing exercise, don’t you think?”

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Mao Zedong as cult figure in Chinese propaganda poster

Mao Zedong as cult figure in Chinese propaganda poster

Mao Zedong (Tse-Tung) (1893-1976) was a Chinese Communist leader noted for his 1949 establishment of the People’s Republic of China. He led the PRC until his death. Chairman Mao “cast himself as a revolutionary leader but whose conduct and attitudes reminded one of China’s emperors.” Through disastrous economic policies and periodic purges of his political enemies, Mao was responsible for the unnecessary deaths of millions of Chinese citizens.

To shore up his power base of poor peasants, Mao targeted wealthy capitalists as enemies. In 1951, the Chinese government trained tens of thousands of workers to spy upon their fellow citizens. Workers informed on bosses, wives on husbands, and children on parents, mostly in an attempt to protect themselves from government reprisals. The media joined in on the attack, making accusations. Many people were arrested, a few killed, most fined, and some imprisoned. All were terrified and humiliated. There were at least 200 to 300,000 suicides. So many people jumped to their deaths from Shanghai skyscrapers that they got the nickname “parachutes.”

Then, in January 1958, Mao Zedong launched his economic growth plan, “The Great Leap Forward.” Farm workers were organized into people’s communes. All private food production was banned. Livestock and farm implements became property of the commune.

Mao then ordered the implementation of  new agricultural techniques – untested and unscientific. The program was ill-managed and corrupt. Food production began to decline. Then, compounded by drought in some areas and floods in others, the production of wheat dropped dangerously low. The result:  a food shortage so severe that millions of peasants starved to death. Mao acknowledged the deaths by occasionally abstaining from eating meat. (2)

(1) MacFarquhar, Roderick and Schoenhals, Michael. Mao’s Last Revolution. Boston: Harvard University Press, 2006.
(2) Li Zhi-Sui. The Private Life of Chairman Mao. New York: Random House, Inc., 1994.

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