Why did Mao cause so much suffering with his failed Great Leap Forward and The Cultural Revolution? Yes, the power Mao held was a corrupting factor in the decisions he made, but fear of repeating history was also a factor.
How many millions of Chinese were addicted to Western opium forced on China by Great Britain and France during two Opium Wars?
Historians say that 20 to 30 million were killed due to the Taiping Rebellion. If Christian missionaries had not been forced on China because of the Opium Wars, would that rebellion have taken place?
Another 115,000 Chinese were killed during the Boxer Rebellion, which was a popular peasant uprising against Christian missionaries, foreign meddling and exploitation.
After 1911 when the Qing Dynasty collapsed, chaos and anarchy ruled China, while foreigners—Americans included— lived in luxury in the treaty ports protected by modern foreign military forces. A Century of Madness chronicles this time.
Mao survived Chiang Kai-shek‘s crack down on the labor movement led by the Communist Party. During World War II, Mao’s army not only fought Chiang Kai-shek’s troops but also the Japanese, who killed between 10 to 20 million Chinese in their attempt to conquer China. The peasants trusted Mao’s troops but did not trust Chiang Kai-shek’s army. Why?
Mao believed that socialism would create a better life for the Chinese. His failures were attempts to make China strong enough to defend the country against foreign meddling and invasions. He failed, but Deng Xiaoping didn’t. What happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989—where a few hundred demonstrators were killed—was nothing compared to what China suffered starting with the First Opium War.
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