Mao the unknown story, p.1

Mao: The Unknown Story, page 1


Mao: The Unknown Story

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Mao: The Unknown Story

  Mao: The Unknown Story

  Jung Chang

  Jon Halliday

  Based on a decade of research and on interviews with many of Mao’s close circle in China who have never talked before — and with virtually everyone outside China who had significant dealings with him — this is the most authoritative life of Mao ever written. It is full of startling revelations, exploding the myth of the Long March, and showing a completely unknown Mao: he was not driven by idealism or ideology; his intimate and intricate relationship with Stalin went back to the 1920s, ultimately bringing him to power; he welcomed Japanese occupation of much of China; and he schemed, poisoned and blackmailed to get his way. After Mao conquered China in 1949, his secret goal was to dominate the world. In chasing this dream he caused the deaths of 38 million people in the greatest famine in history. In all, well over 70 million Chinese perished under Mao’s rule — in peacetime.

  Combining meticulous research with the story-telling style of Wild Swans, this biography offers a harrowing portrait of Mao’s ruthless accumulation of power through the exercise of terror: his first victims were the peasants, then the intellectuals and, finally, the inner circle of his own advisors. The reader enters the shadowy chambers of Mao’s court and eavesdrops on the drama in its hidden recesses. Mao’s character and the enormity of his behavior toward his wives, mistresses and children are unveiled for the first time.

  This is an entirely fresh look at Mao in both content and approach. It will astonish historians and the general reader alike.





  Other Books by This Author

  About the Authors

  Title Page


  List of Illustrations

  List of Maps

  List of Abbreviations in Text

  Note about Spelling in Text

  PART ONE —Lukewarm Believer

  1 On the Cusp from Ancient to Modern (1893–1911; age 1–17)

  2 Becoming a Communist (1911–20; age 17–26)

  3 Lukewarm Believer (1920–25; age 26–31)

  4 Rise and Demise in the Nationalist Party (1925–27; age 31–33)

  PART TWO —Long March to Supremacy in the Party

  5 Hijacking a Red Force and Taking Over Bandit Land (1927–28; age 33–34)

  6 Subjugating the Red Army Supremo (1928–30; age 34–36)

  7 Takeover Leads to Death of Second Wife (1927–30; age 33–36)

  8 Bloody Purge Paves the Way for “Chairman Mao” (1929–31; age 35–37)

  9 Mao and the First Red State (1931–34; age 37–40)

  10 Troublemaker to Figurehead (1931–34; age 37–40)

  11 How Mao Got onto the Long March (1933–34; age 39–40)

  12 Long March I: Chiang Lets the Reds Go (1934; age 40)

  13 Long March II: The Power behind the Throne (1934–35; age 40–41)

  14 Long March III: Monopolizing the Moscow Connection (1935; age 41)

  PART THREE —Building His Power Base

  15 The Timely Death of Mao’s Host (1935–36; age 41–42)

  16 Chiang Kai-shek Kidnapped (1935–36; age 41–42)

  17 A National Player (1936; age 42–43)

  18 New Image, New Life and New Wife (1937–38; age 43–44)

  19 Red Mole Triggers China — Japan War (1937–38; age 43–44)

  20 Fight Rivals and Chiang — Not Japan (1937–40; age 43–46)

  21 Most Desired Scenario: Stalin Carves up China with Japan (1939–40; age 45–46)

  22 Death Trap for His Own Men (1940–41; age 46–47)

  23 Building a Power Base through Terror (1941–45; age 47–51)

  24 Uncowed Opponent Poisoned (1941–45; age 47–51)

  25 Supreme Party Leader at Last (1942–45; age 48–51)

  PART FOUR —To Conquer China

  26 “Revolutionary Opium War” (1937–45; age 43–51)

  27 The Russians Are Coming! (1945–46; age 51–52)

  28 Saved by Washington (1944–47; age 50–53)

  29 Moles, Betrayals and Poor Leadership Doom Chiang (1945–49; age 51–55)

  3 °China Conquered (1946–49; age 52–55)

  31 Totalitarian State, Extravagant Lifestyle (1949–53; age 55–59)

  PART FIVE —Chasing a Superpower Dream

  32 Rivalry with Stalin (1947–49; age 53–55)

  33 Two Tyrants Wrestle (1949–50; age 55–56)

  34 Why Mao and Stalin Started the Korean War (1949–50; age 55–56)

  35 Mao Milks the Korean War (1950–53; age 56–59)

  36 Launching the Secret Superpower Program (1953–54; age 59–60)

  37 War on Peasants (1953–56; age 59–62)

  38 Undermining Khrushchev (1956–59; age 62–65)

  39 Killing the “Hundred Flowers” (1957–58; age 63–64)

  40 The Great Leap: “Half of China May Well Have to Die” (1958–61; age 64–67)

  41 Defense Minister Peng’s Lonely Battle (1958–59; age 64–65)

  42 The Tibetans Rebel (1950–61; age 56–67)

  43 Maoism Goes Global (1959–64; age 65–70)

  44 Ambushed by the President (1961–62; age 67–68)

  45 The Bomb (1962–64; age 68–70)

  46 A Time of Uncertainty and Setbacks (1962–65; age 68–71)

  PART SIX —Unsweet Revenge

  47 A Horse-trade Secures the Cultural Revolution (1965–66; age 71–72)

  48 The Great Purge (1966–67; age 72–73)

  49 Unsweet Revenge (1966–74; age 72–80)

  50 The Chairman’s New Outfit (1967–70; age 73–76)

  51 A War Scare (1969–71; age 75–77)

  52 Falling Out with Lin Biao (1970–71; age 76–77)

  53 Maoism Falls Flat on the World Stage (1966–70; age 72–76)

  54 Nixon: The Red-baiter Baited (1970–73; age 76–79)

  55 The Boss Denies Chou Cancer Treatment (1972–74; age 78–80)

  56 Mme Mao in the Cultural Revolution (1966–75; age 72–81)

  57 Enfeebled Mao Hedges His Bets (1973–76; age 79–82)

  58 Last Days (1974–76; age 80–82)



  List of Interviewees

  Archives Consulted


  Bibliography of Chinese-language Sources

  Bibliography of Non-Chinese-language Sources

  Photo Insert


  1. The room where Mao was born.

  2. Mao with his mother and younger brothers, 1919.

  3. Mao, his father, uncle and brother, Tse-tan, 1919.

  4. Yang Kai-hui, Mao’s second wife, with their two eldest sons, 1924.

  5. Grigori Voitinsky.

  6. Maring.

  7. Mikhail Borodin with Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei.

  8. Mao on the day he first became “Chairman Mao,” 1931.

  9. The first formal meeting of the Red state, 1931.

  10. The bridge over the Dadu River at Luding.

  11. Mao in Yenan in 1937, with participants in the “Autumn Harvest Uprising.” 12. Mao with Zhu De, Lin Biao and other Red Army officers, 1937.

  13. Shao Li-tzu.

  14. General Zhang Zhi-zhong.

  15. General Hu Tsung-nan.

  16. General Wei Li-huang.

  17. Chiang Kai-shek with Chang Hsueh-liang, the “Young Marshal.” 18. Mao with Chang Kuo-tao, 1937.

  19. Mao with Wang Ming.

  20. The Politburo in Yenan, 1938.

  21. Red Army troops entering Yenan, 1937.

  22. Yenan: the Congress Hall and cave

  23. The Spanish Franciscan cathedral, Yenan.

  24. Jung Chang outside Mao’s official residence in Yenan.

  25. Jon Halliday in Yenan.

  26. Mao’s secret hide-out outside Yenan.

  27. Mao with his third wife, Gui-yuan, 1937.

  28. Mao’s sons in Russia.

  29. Mao in 1939, reading Stalin.

  30. A receipt signed by Mao for money received from the Russians.

  31. Mao with US ambassador Patrick Hurley, 1945.

  32. Jiang Qing, Mao’s fourth wife, with General George C. Marshall, 1946.

  33. Chiang Kai-shek visiting his ancestral temple for the last time, 1949.

  34. Red troops entering Nanjing, 1949.

  35. Mao proclaiming the founding of Communist China, 1 October 1949.

  36 and 37. Mass executions in front of organized crowds.

  38. Mao at Stalin’s 70th birthday, 1949.

  39. Mao in a Russian cowshed.

  40. Tiananmen Gate bedecked with a portrait of the dead Stalin, 1953.

  41. Mao holding up a wreath to Stalin’s portrait.

  42. Mao embracing Nikita Khrushchev, 1958.

  43. Mao inspecting a jet fighter.

  44. Mao with a gun at a military exercise.

  45. Mao at a Japanese exhibition in Peking, 1956.

  46. Mao’s bedroom.

  47. Peasants in Henan during the Great Leap Forward.

  48. A propaganda photograph.

  49. A girl pulling a cart.

  50 and 51. Liu Shao-chi visiting his home village during the famine, 1961.

  52. Mao swimming.

  53. Mao contemplating a map of the world.

  54. The Panchen Lama being denounced.

  55. Peng De-huai.

  56. Peng De-huai being paraded during the Cultural Revolution.

  57. Liu Shao-chi being struck inside the leaders’ compound.

  58. Liu being trampled.

  59. Liu’s wife, Wang Guang-mei, being manhandled.

  60. The “jet-plane” position.

  61. Brutal hair-cutting.

  62. A rare picture of how the Chinese population really looked.

  63, 64 and 65. Dissidents being shot outside Harbin.

  66. Mao and Lin Biao on Tiananmen Gate, 1966.

  67. Lin Biao, Mao, Prince Sihanouk and Princess Monique, 1971.

  68. Lin Biao’s daughter, wife and son “Tiger.” 69. Mao with Che Guevara, 1960.

  70. Mao with Imelda Marcos, 1974.

  71. Mao with Pol Pot and Ieng Sary, 1975.

  72. Mao and Chou En-lai with Nixon and Kissinger, 1972.

  73. Chou banished to a hard chair.

  74. Deng Xiao-ping and the Gang of Four.

  75. Madame Mao at her trial.

  76. Mao with Nixon, February 1976.

  77. The last picture: Mao with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 27 May 1976.

  Photograph no. 10, by Auguste François, is reproduced by permission of Réunion des Musées Nationaux; no. 14, by Cecil Beaton, by permission of the Beaton Estate; no.16, by permission of Getty Images; no. 19, by permission of Wang Dan-zhi; nos. 29 and 39, by permission of the Rossiiskii Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv Kinofotodokumentov (the Russian State Archive of Cine-photo Documents); nos. 34 and 49, by Henri Cartier-Bresson, by permission of Magnum Photos; no. 45, by Du Xiu-xian; no. 53, by Lu Hou-min; nos. 61, 63, 64 and 65, by Li Zhen-sheng; nos. 67, 72, 76 and 77, by Du Xiu-xian.


  1. China

  2. The area of Mao’s activities, 1927–34

  3. The Long March, October 1934–October 1935

  Maps by ML Design, London


  CCP Chinese

  Communist Party


  Communist Information Bureau


  Communist International


  Communist Party


  Eighth Route Army


  Glavnoye Razvedyivatelnoye Upravleniye (Chief Intelligence Directorate), Soviet Military Intelligence


  New Fourth Army


  Zhang Zhi-zhong


  Chinese personal names are given surname first. In some cases, where people have a very common surname, we refer to them by their given names after first mention. We have spelled the names so as to make them as distinctive and easily recognizable as possible. For those not in pinyin (the official Mainland system), the pinyin version is given in the index.

  For place names, we have used pinyin, except for Peking (Beijing), Yenan (Yan’an), Canton (Guangzhou), and the islands of Quemoy (Jinmen) and Matsu (Mazu).


  The area of Mao’s activities, 1927–34

  The Long March, October 1934–October 1935




  MAO TSE-TUNG, who for decades held absolute power over the lives of one-quarter of the world’s population, was responsible for well over 70 million deaths in peacetime, more than any other twentieth-century leader. He was born into a peasant family in a valley called Shaoshan, in the province of Hunan, in the heartland of China. The date was 26 December 1893. His ancestors had lived in the valley for five hundred years.

  This was a world of ancient beauty, a temperate, humid region whose misty, undulating hills had been populated ever since the Neolithic age. Buddhist temples dating from the Tang dynasty (AD 618–906), when Buddhism first came here, were still in use. Forests where nearly 300 species of trees grew, including maples, camphor, metasequoia and the rare ginkgo, covered the area and sheltered the tigers, leopards and boar that still roamed the hills. (The last tiger was killed in 1957.) These hills, with neither roads nor navigable rivers, detached the village from the world at large. Even as late as the early twentieth century an event as momentous as the death of the emperor in 1908 did not percolate this far, and Mao found out only two years afterwards when he left Shaoshan.

  The valley of Shaoshan measures about 5 by 3.5 km. The 600-odd families who lived there grew rice, tea and bamboo, harnessing buffalo to plough the rice paddies. Daily life revolved round these age-old activities. Mao’s father, Yi-chang, was born in 1870. At the age of ten he was engaged to a girl of thirteen from a village about ten kilometers away, beyond a pass called Tiger Resting Pass, where tigers used to sun themselves. This short distance was long enough in those years for the two villages to speak dialects that were almost mutually unintelligible. Being merely a girl, Mao’s mother did not receive a name; as the seventh girl born in the Wen clan, she was just Seventh Sister Wen. In accordance with centuries of custom, her feet had been crushed and bound to produce the so-called “three-inch golden lilies” that epitomized beauty at the time.

  Her engagement to Mao’s father followed time-honored customs. It was arranged by their parents and was based on a practical consideration: the tomb of one of her grandfathers was in Shaoshan, and it had to be tended regularly with elaborate rituals, so having a relative there would prove useful. Seventh Sister Wen moved in with the Maos upon betrothal, and was married at the age of eighteen, in 1885, when Yi-chang was fifteen.

  Shortly after the wedding, Yi-chang went off to be a soldier to earn money to pay off family debts, which he was able to do after several years. Chinese peasants were not serfs but free farmers, and joining the army for purely financial reasons was an established practice. Luckily he was not involved in any wars; instead he caught a glimpse of the world and picked up some business ideas. Unlike most of the villagers, Yi-chang could read and write, well enough to keep accounts. After his return, he raised pigs, and processed grain into top-quality rice to sell at a nearby market town. He bought back the land his father had pawned, then bought more land, and became one of the richest men in the village.

  Though relative
ly well off, Yi-chang remained extremely hardworking and thrifty all his life. The family house consisted of half a dozen rooms, which occupied one wing of a large thatched property. Eventually Yi-chang replaced the thatch with tiles, a major improvement, but left the mud floor and mud walls. The windows had no glass — still a rare luxury — and were just square openings with wooden bars, blocked off at night by wooden boards (the temperature hardly ever fell below freezing). The furniture was simple: wooden beds, bare wooden tables and benches. It was in one of these rather spartan rooms, under a pale blue homespun cotton quilt, inside a blue mosquito net, that Mao was born.

  MAO WAS THE third son, but the first to survive beyond infancy. His Buddhist mother became even more devout to encourage Buddha to protect him. Mao was given the two-part name Tse-tung. Tse, which means “to shine on,” was the name given to all his generation, as preordained when the clan chronicle was first written in the eighteenth century; tung means “the East.” So his full given name meant “to shine on the East.” When two more boys were born, in 1896 and 1905, they were given the names Tse-min (min means “the people”) and Tse-tan (tan possibly referred to the local region, Xiangtan).

  These names reflected the inveterate aspiration of Chinese peasants for their sons to do well — and the expectation that they could. High positions were open to all through education, which for centuries meant studying Confucian classics. Excellence would enable young men of any background to pass imperial examinations and become mandarins — all the way up to becoming prime minister. Officialdom was the definition of achievement, and the names given to Mao and his brothers expressed the hopes placed on them.

  But a grand name was also onerous and potentially tempted fate, so most children were given a pet name that was either lowly or tough, or both. Mao’s was “the Boy of Stone”—Shi san ya-zi. For this second “baptism” his mother took him to a rock about eight feet high, which was reputed to be enchanted, as there was a spring underneath. After Mao performed obeisance and kowtows, he was considered adopted by the rock. Mao was very fond of this name, and continued to use it as an adult. In 1959, when he returned to Shaoshan and met the villagers for the first — and only — time as supreme leader of China, he began the dinner for them with a quip: “So everyone is here, except my Stone Mother. Shall we wait for her?”

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