Mao's Legacy in Modern China (03:25)
Decades after his death in 1976, Chairman Mao Zedong remains a powerful and revered presence. Thousands flock to his birthplace of Shaoshan to celebrate his birthday and honor his rule. "The Death of Mao" uses archival footage to explore the effects of his death on the birth of modern China.
Mao's Rise to Power (03:54)
Despite his rural upbringing, Mao Zedong proved himself a capable leader during World War II. Following the war, his promises of land swelled the ranks of the Communist Army, leading to their 1949 defeat of Nationalist forces. The Chinese people hoped Mao and his central government would restore dignity, peace, and prosperity.
Mao's Failed Initiatives Cripple China (06:28)
Early Communist rule was marked by the deaths of approximately 2 million landowners, the collectivization of private property, and the demonization of capitalist America. Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward failed to jumpstart the flagging Chinese economy and lead to widespread ecological disasters. Investigations into declassified records from the era suggest that Mao's efforts may have contributed to at least 45 million civilian deaths.
Cultural Revolution Secures Mao's Rule (06:17)
Fearing being deposed, Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution to disrupt and discredit rivals. Red Guards targeted anyone and anything rumored to be in any way connected to feudalistic or capitalist ideas. While Mao's eventual successor, Deng Xiaoping, was sent for government "reeducation," thousands of other leaders were publicly arrested, tried, shamed, and beaten by Red Guards.
Dramatic Changes After Cultural Revolution (04:26)
The government sharply curtails critics of the Communist Party for fear of dissent leading to a second Cultural Revolution. With China economically crippled, Mao Zedong explored diplomatic relations with foreign leaders and reinstated Deng Xiaoping to oversee and direct recovery efforts. Mao's death in 1976 created a power vacuum.
Xiaoping Ushers in Capitalist Opportunities (05:11)
With Mao Zedong dead, the Cultural Revolution and Great Leap Forward were viewed through a more critical light. Xiaoping began espousing a new doctrine, which minimized older Communist ideologies, and sought foreign investors and diplomatic relations. Guo Pei Ji recalls opening China's first restaurant following Deng's approval of private enterprise.
Road to Tiananmen Square (05:09)
Rampant corruption and widespread fears led Chinese people to withdraw money from the banks, causing a large-scale financial crisis. Calling for a democratic solution, students took to the streets in 1989, protesting at Tiananmen Square. Though the military's advance was initially stalled by grandparents attempting to intercede, tanks eventually opened fire.
Chinese Prosperity and Growth Threatened (08:21)
Foreign nations leveled strict economic sanctions against China in response to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, and Xiaoping's government fought to maintain control. Deng embarked on a 3,000-mile tour to generate support for his pro-market reforms. China experienced rapid economic growth and change.
Mao's and Deng's Impact Today (03:53)
After years of war and upheaval, China was finally prosperous, but Xiaoping cautioned the fledgling superpower against overreaching and exploiting other countries. Today, President Xi Jinping seeks to regrow trade along the Silk Roads and to modernize the military. The Chinese people continue to honor Mao Zedong.
Death of Mao: Credits (00:30)
Death of Mao: Credits
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