Timeline of Mao Zedong's Life

Mao Zedong, Founder oMao Zedong waves to his supportersf the People's Republic of China

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This timeline shows the significant events in Mao Zedong's life, in a simple one-page format. For a more detail, please see the in-depth Mao Zedong Timeline.

Early Life

  • Dec. 26, 1893 – Mao born to farmer family at Shaoshan, Xiangtan County, Hunan Province
  • 1901-06 – Mao attends local primary school
  • 1907-08 – Teenaged Mao is married to a woman from the Luo clan; they live together for several years, but she dies at 21.
  • 1910 – Mao sees terrible famine in Hunan Province
  • 1911 – Revolution, Mao fights on revolutionary side in Changsha against Qing Dynasty
  • 1912 – Mao enters Normal School for teacher training
  • 1915 – Mao meets future second wife, Yang Kaihui
  • 1918 – Mao graduates from First Provincial Normal School of Hunan
  • 1919 – Mao travels to Beijing during May Fourth Movement
  • 1920 – Married Yang Kaihui, daughter of Professor Yang Changji; three sons

Learning about Marxism

  • 1921 – Mao introduced to Marxism working at library of Peking University
  • July 23, 1921 – Mao attends 1st session of National Congress of Comm. Party
  • 1924 – Delegate to 1st National Conference of KMT; organizes Hunan branch
  • March 1925 – KMT leader Sun Yat-Sen dies, Chiang Kai-Shek takes over
  • April 1927 – Chiang Kai-Shek attacks communists at Shanghai
  • 1927 – Mao returns to Hunan, meets with Communist Party re: peasant uprisings
  • 1927 – Mao leads Autumn Harvest Uprising in Changsha, Hunan
  • 1930 – KMT sends five waves (more than 1 million soldiers) against rising communist power led by Mao
  • May 1930 – Mao marries He Zizhen
  • Oct. 1930 – Kuomintang (KMT) captures Yang Kaihui and son Anying , Yang executed

Gathering Power and Fame

  • 1931-34 – Mao and others establish Soviet Republic of China in mountains of Jiangxi
  • “Red terror” – Communists torture and murder thousands of local people
  • June 1932 – Red Guard numbers 45,000, plus 200,000 militia
  • October 1934 – Chiang Kai-shek’s forces surround communists
  • October 16, 1934-October 19, 1935 – The Long March, communist escape 8,000 miles to north and west
  • 1937 – Mao publishes “On Contradiction” and “On Practice,” revolutionary tracts
  • 1937 – He Zizhen catches Mao in affairs, they split (but don’t divorce)
  • July 7, 1937-Sept. 9, 1945 – Second Sino-Japanese War
  • Nov. 1938 – Mao marries Jiang Qing (birth name Li Shumeng), later known as “Madame Mao”
  • 1941 – Mao advocates “stern measures” against non-cooperative peasants

Founding of the PRC

  • 1942 – Mao launches “Rectification of Conduct” campaign, Zheng Feng, to purge other CPC leaders
  • 1943 – Mao becomes Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party
  • 1944 – US sends Dixie Mission to Chinese Communists – Americans are favorably impressed
  • 1945 – Meets with Chiang Kai-Shek and George Marshall for discussions in Chongqing; no peace deal
  • 1946-49 - Final phase of Chinese Civil War
  • Jan 21, 1949 – KMT suffers huge loss against Red Guard led by Mao
  • Oct. 1, 1949 – Foundation of PRC
  • 1949-1953 – Mass executions of landlords and other “rightists,” more than 1 million likely killed
  • Dec. 10, 1949 – Communists take Chengdu, last KMT stronghold. Chiang Kai-shek flees to Taiwan.
  • 1950 – Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship signed by Mao and Stalin

The First Decade: Triumph and Disaster

  • Oct. 7, 1950 – Mao orders invasion of Tibet
  • Nov. 25, 1950 – Son Mao Anying killed in Korean War
  • 1951 – Three-anti/Five-anti Campaigns against capitalists, hundreds of thousands dead by suicide or execution
  • 1952 – Mao bans parties except CCP
  • 1953-58 – First Five-Year Plan, Mao undertakes instant industrialization of China
  • Sept. 27, 1954 – Mao becomes President of PRC
  • 1956-57 – Hundred Flowers Campaign, Mao encourages criticism of government (trick to root out dissidents)
  • 1956 – Jiang Qing goes to Moscow for cancer treatment
  • 1957-59 – Anti-Rightest Movement, some 500,000+ government critics re-educated through labor or shot
  • Jan. 1958 – Great Leap Forward (Second Five-Year Plan), collectivization, 20-43 million starve to death

Trouble at Home and Abroad

  • July 31 – Aug. 3, 1958 – Khrushchev visits Mao in China
  • Dec. 1958 – Mao relinquishes presidency, succeeded by Liu Shaoqi
  • 1959 – Sino-Soviet Split
  • Jan. 1962 – CPC “Conference of the 7,000” in Beijing, Pres. Liu Shaoqi denounces Great Leap Forward
  • June-Nov., 1962 – Sino-Indian War, USSR supports India, China wins Aksai Chin border region
  • April 1964 – Parts of “On Contradiction” and “On Practice” republished as part of The Little Red Book
  • Oct. 16, 1964 – China tests first nuclear weapon at Lop Nur
  • May 16, 1966-1976 – Cultural Revolution, social and political upheaval in reaction against Liu and Deng
  • Jan 1967 – Red Guards besiege Soviet Embassy in Beijing
  • June 14, 1967 – China tests first hydrogen bomb (“H-bomb”)

Decline and Death

  • 1968 – Soviet troops deploy along border with Xinjiang, fostering revolt among Uighers
  • March 1969 – Fighting between China and USSR breaks out along Ussuri River
  • August 1969 – Soviets threaten to nuke China
  • July 1971 – Henry Kissinger visits Beijing
  • Feb. 1972 – President Nixon visits Beijing
  • 1974 – Mao loses ability to speak coherently due to ALS or motor neuron disease
  • 1975 – Deng Xiapeng, purged in 1968, returns as party secretary
  • 1975 – Chiang Kai-shek dies in Taiwan
  • July 28, 1976 – Great Tangshan Earthquake kills 250,000-800,000 people; Mao already in hospital
  • Sept. 9, 1976 – Mao dies, Hua Guofeng succeeds him
  • 1976 – Jiang Qing and other members of “Gang of Four” arrested