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In the majority of cases, it is difficult to describe great figures as wholly good or bad; this is because great men often achieve beneficial outcomes through questionable methods. Mao Zedong is no different; though his leadership has been judged harshly by historians, and rightly so in certain circumstances, he also achieved important things for China and for the Chinese people.


He used the communist ideology as a rallying point for the Chinese people and prevailed against Chiang Kai-Shek in the Chinese Civil War. Although China became more insular in the early years, it was able under Mao's leadership to gain a greater degree of political and economic independence. It would never again become a colony of foreign powers, it would decide its own internal affairs, and it would begin the political process of reclaiming lost territories such as Macau and Hong Kong. It is hard to argue that Mao's unification of China, and his role in reestablishing sovereignty and political independence, were not beneficial for China and the Chinese people.
Despite these superficial achievements, however, the methods employed by Mao to achieve certain goals have been heavily criticized. From 1958-1960, for example, Mao spearheaded a national economic campaign designed to transform a predominantly agrarian Chinese economy into a more modernized industrial economy. He called this the Great Leap Forward and it has been judged an utter failure by historians. ...
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