Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung, and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao (December 26, 1893 – September 9, 1976), was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, military strategist, poet, political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution. He was the architect and founding father of the People's Republic of China (PRC) from its establishment in 1949, and held authoritarian control over the nation until his death in 1976. His theoretical contribution to Marxism-Leninism, along with his military strategies and brand of policies, are collectively known as Maoism.
Mao is credited with commanding the Long March and leading the Communist Party of China (CPC) to victory against Kuomintang (KMT) in the Chinese Civil War, defeating an assortment of powerful regional and ethnic warlords in the process of unifying China, and helping repel a Japanese invasion. Mao also enacted sweeping land reform, by overthrowing the feudal landlords and seizing their large estates, before dividing the land up among the common people who worked it. Later, through his policies, he laid the economic, technological and cultural foundations of modern China, transforming the country from an underdeveloped peasant-based agrarian society into a major industrialized world power.
However, Mao remains a controversial figure to this day, with a contentious legacy that is subject to continuing revision and fierce debate. He is officially held in high regard in China as a great political strategist, military mastermind, and savior of the nation. Additionally, he is viewed as an intellectual, poet, philosopher, and visionary. Conversely, nationwide political campaigns led by Mao, such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, are blamed for millions of deaths, causing severe famine and damage to the culture, society and economy of China. Moreover, although China's population almost doubled during the period of Mao's leadership (from around 550 to over 900 million), his rule from 1949 to 1976 is believed to have caused the deaths of 40 to 70 million people.
Despite the ongoing dispute, he is still regarded as one of the most important figures in modern world history, and was named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century by Time magazine.