Many leaders throughout history portrayed similar leadership qualities and techniques in how they were able to increase the power and influence of their countries. Two leaders in particular that represent this are Queen Victoria of Britain and Mao Zedong of China. These two leaders had both similar and very different leadership techniques,. Although, some of the concepts by which these leaders led are similar. Despite the fact that these leaders ruled during different time periods, both were intent on making their countries among the most powerful in the world.
Queen Victoria was a certainly a visionary in that she envisioned her country as becoming the strongest empire both throughout Europe and the rest of the world. She was born into royalty, so she never really had to work her way up into her position as queen. One major way in which Britain became one of the most powerful nations was through the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution was vast increase in the production of good and factories all throughout Britain. New innovations and inventions swept across the entire country. This was certainly a huge plus for Britain and for Queen Victoria in that more and more people respected and honoured. This mass increase in the production of goods included a large production of weapons as well. Britain now possessed unparalleled military strength and enough power in drastically increase their influence and control over other countries. This later played right into the Opium Wars between China and Britain.
In 1834 Britain began exporting opium, a very powerful drug, into China in exchange for tea. On September 2nd though, Britain officially ended trade with China. Although, the Chinese people ended up getting completely addicted to opium to a point where they couldn’t live without it. Lin Zexu, an official of the Qing Dynasty, disposed of all the British opium by dumping it into the sea. This sent a very negative and hostile message to Queen Victoria who reacted immediately to it. Following the disposal of the opium, Lin Zexu wrote an apology letter to the Queen, but she refused to accept it and instead she sent in British soldiers and warships in to attack China. Eventually, Britain defeated the Chinese and ceded the city of Hong Kong. So, when looking at all of this from a broader perspective, one can see just how powerful Britain was when under the rule of Queen Victoria. The Opium Wars were a perfect example of this because first of all, she was able to get an entire COUNTRY hooked to a highly addictive drug. Secondly, not only did she single-handedly get the whole country addicted, but following this she simply sent troops and just took their city of Hong Kong. This shows true power, authority, and great strategic ability on Victoria’s part.
Mao Zedong was much different than Queen Victoria in how he came to power in China. As opposed to Victoria who was born into royalty, Mao was born into a peasant family. In addition, unlike Victoria he never really experienced any luxuries and his upbringing was relatively tough. In 1921, Mao co-founded the Chinese Communist Party and set up a Chinese Soviet Republic in Kiangsi. In 1934, Mao and all of his followers were forced to leave and they went on the well-known Long March. The tension and possibility of battle continuously increased between the Nationalists (KMT) and the Communists following the war between China and Japan. After learning of guerrilla warfare tactics and defeating the KMT, Mao Zedong was appointed Chairman of the People’s Republic of China.
Mao ruled through Marxism and the idea that everyone is equal in that they should all be working not for themselves, but for the greater good of society as a whole. Mao believed that in order for China’s economy to become one of the strongest in the world, industrialization (factory production) and agriculture (farming) must be brought together. As a result, Mao launched the Great Leap Forward in 1958. This was exactly what Mao had envisioned needed to happen in order for China’s economy to truly thrive. The Great Leap Forward consisted of everyone in China being forced to live in communes and give up all their metal products to produce steel. The attempts at steel were made in “Backyard Furnaces” that existed in each and every commune. Here lies the problem. While everyone was busy trying to make steel, absolutely no food was being produced and as a result, a famine spread all throughout the country. By 1961, an estimated 30-45 million Chinese people had died. This is well-known as the Great Famine, which was a direct result of Mao’s utterly failed Great Leap Forward.
Following the immense starvation of his people, Mao took a hiatus of about 5 years. In 1966, Mao returned with what many people now call his “Great Comeback.” This was when Mao initiated China’s Cultural Revolution. This was kind of a bringing-back-together of the Chinese people and the reinforcement of “Maoism.” Mao felt that China was becoming too influenced by capitalist values and traditions and that his way of ruling and belief systems must be restored. Although, this was done in very extreme way. To start, propaganda was put up all throughout China supporting and promoting Maoism and the belief in Mao. Following the widespread propaganda, Mao’s Little Red Book was created. This book was written by Mao and consisted of his quotes and words on how to live the “right way” through the belief in him. There was a mass printing and distribution of this book to everyone all throughout China. The major focus of the Little Red Book and Mao’s “rebirth” was the youth of China. As seen throughout history (Stalin, Hitler, etc.), the control of the youth in a country is extremely effective in increasing one’s power as a leader. This is exactly what Mao did here.
The Chinese youth began forming what were known as the “Red Guards” all throughout China. If anyone was ever caught without their Little Red Book for whatever reason, they would be publicly humiliated and usually beaten, sometimes, killed. The big idea to pull from the Cultural Revolution is that Mao was really seen as a God and was able to get an entire country to fully worship him and believe every single word that left his mouth. Although, the Cultural Revolution left about a million dead and China’s economy took a huge hit as well. In some senses it was a great success, but in others a total failure.
To conclude, Mao Zedong and Queen Victoria.are very different leaders as far as their background and their countries political systems go. Although, some of the actions taken by both leaders have some glaring similarities. For example, the Victoria’s role in the Opium Wars and Mao’s Cultural Revolution are extremely similar. This is true in the sense that Queen Victoria single-handedly got an entire country hooked to a highly-addictive drug the same way Mao was able to single-handedly get his entire country to completely worship him and view him as a God. In addition, Queen Victoria wanted to strengthen Britain’s economy and did so through the Industrial Revolution the same way Mao wanted to do the same for China through the Great Leap Forward. Despite the fact that it didn’t work out the same way for Mao as it did for Queen Victoria, they shared extremely similar views as to where they envisioned their country in the future.