A co-founder of the Chinese Communist Party in 1921 and its effective leader from the time of the Long March (1934-5), he eventually defeated both the occupying Japanese and rival Kuomintang nationalist forces to create the People’s Republic of China in 1949, becoming its first head of state. At first Mao followed the Soviet Communist model, but from 1956 he introduced his own measures, such as the brief period of freedom of expression known as Hundred Flowers and the economically disastrous Great Leap Forward (1958–60). Despite having resigned as head of state Mao instigated the Cultural Revolution (1966–76), during which he became the focus of a personality cult
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