The Face of Evil: What We Can Learn From Mao Tse-tung

After finishing The Unknown Mao, I understand that history’s second worst mass murderer, Joseph Stalin, died one week before I was born. Stalin’s protege, Mao Tse tung, went on to murder seventy million people during the time that I was living a “Leave It To Beaver” existence in Christian America.

During that time, I had absolutely no knowledge of the atrocities taking place. Mao murdered seventy million people. Seventy million. That’s like annihilating nearly 25% of of the US population.

Mao died just one month prior to my wedding day in 1976. At that time, I didn’t have a clue that Mao Tse Tung was the face of evil.

I now understand and weep.

Let’s analyze what the face of evil looks like–but more importantly, turn it around to discuss how we should live in this needy world.

I realize that talking about evil is not a pleasant subject. Shirley kept asking me why I was reading about Mao during the lazy, hazy days of summer. I said we can always learn good–even by looking at evil. One of our treasured Youth With A Mission principles is that believers should always move in the opposite spirit of Satan, his demons, and world. We should “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).

One way we learn is to understand and expose sin–then ask God to empower us to do exactly the opposite. That’s my prayer for you.

First, her are some items about Mao Tse-tung that you might find interesting:

  • He was born on December 26, 1893 in Shaoshan, Hunan Province, China into a middle class family. Wikipedia makes it sound like he was a “peasant” who made it big–but that is not true. His family had more than most–which led to his education and rise to power.
  • Mao wrote and recited many poems during his lifetime. When Richard Nixon visited him for the second time in February 1976, Mao provided an evening of entertainment which included Mao’s favorite classical poems set to music–which mostly spoke of the tragic end of fallen leaders!
  • Mao knew almost nothing about economics and oftentimes got numbers wrong–by either thousands or millions. No wonder the “Five Year” collectivist plans didn’t work so well.
  • He loved luxury, and demanded numerous “villas” and palaces all over China. Most of them, he never lodged in.
  • Mao rarely traveled out of China, but on a couple of visits to see Stalin in Moscow, he brought a wooden bed with him (he liked sleeping on boards), and had his hosts build a platform on top of the toilet because he preferred squatting.
  • When millions were dying of starvation in 1966-67, Mao was dining on special foods provided by his vast entourage. Even his chef and servants stole scraps from his table because they, too, were mal-nourished.
  • During his 27 years of ruling China, Mao never took one bath or shower. He preferred his personal servants clean him up with warm towels each day. He also swam in the pools he had constructed in his luxurious villas.
  • Russia completely bank rolled the Chinese Revolution in which Mao emerged as the most ruthless–and hence effective leader (from a communist standpoint).
  • Mao helped start the Korean War to get Stalin’s help in building his military/industrial complex. He secretly sent 300,000 Chinese soldiers to their deaths in Korea to “wear down” the Americans. He said that the Yankees couldn’t tell the difference between Chinese and Koreans because both had black hair.
  • When he reached the pinnacle of power and declared China a communist state in 1949, Mao was the only millionaire in the nation. He had already spent twenty years looting and stealing from the landowners in the countryside.
  • Mao spent his last days in a building called 202 in Zhongnanhai. He was taken there after a massive earthquake killed over 240,000 Chinese. His life was filled with hatred, frustration and self-pity. He complained to his aides that after his death there would be “upheaval,” “winds smelling of blood” and that “What’s going to happen to you, heaven only knows.”
  • He died a bitter man, with only two “girlfriends” at his side just after midnight on September 9, 1976.

So what were the sinful traits–the face of evil–that one sees so openly in the life of Mao?

 1. Bitterness toward and alienation from his father

Mao’s father, Li-chang, considered Mao, his first son to survive infancy, to be arrogant, idle, and lazy. Mao talked back to his tutors and was dismissed from three schools. He hated his father, and his bitterness manifested itself all his life. He didn’t even attend his father’s funeral.

Mao displayed a rebellious streak from childhood–and it especially showed itself toward his earthly father. This estrangement set the trajectory of his life–and led to great dysfunction in his own family and all subsequent relationships.

2. Immorality

Mao was a grossly immoral man. He “used and abused” four wives over his lifetime, and none of his marriages ended well. Two of his wives had mental problems and went crazy, one was killed in a communist “purge” when she was 28. His last wife–actress Jiang Qing (the infamous Madame Mao), was the up front leader of the “Cultural Revolution” that took three million lives. She committed suicide in 1991.

Mao slept with hundreds of other Chinese women. He once said he couldn’t go “forty days without sex,” and any female would do. He traveled nearly fifty times to a certain city to party and hook up with “young girls.” His eightieth birthday was not spent with his wife Jiang Qing, but with five former girlfriends.

3. Unconcern for children

Mao Tse-tung fathered at least six children, yet unlike the parents of numerous generations of Chinese kids (and others around the world), he never cared for them. Half of his children were “lost” in the various purges and upheavals. His oldest son died in the Korean conflict and Mao was never close to his two daughters by Jiang Qing. Only once did he show interest in a child–after he had a nervous breakdown and was fighting for his life.

Of the millions who died under his reign of terror, a good portion were children who starved to death due to his draconian policies.  During the collective farm era, he even toyed with the idea of doing away with names and calling people by a “number.” That’s what human beings–especially young ones–were to Mao. They were faceless objects, not to nurture and care for, but to serve the interests of the state.

4. Lack of pity for people

One truth about Mao that hit me deeply was his total lack of empathy and compassion for people. In fact, his rise to the top of the communist party was due to his complete disregard for human life.

Mao had compassion for no one. When thousands of people were murdered and lands were confiscated from the “evil” landlords of the nation, Mao exulted in the chaos and said, “Wow, this is fantastic! Kill more. Kill more!” He oftentimes presided over the mass execution of “counter-insurgents,” even burying hundreds of people alive and doing so with a smile.

When thirty-eight million people were starving and died during the man-made famine of 1966-67, Mao ordered the grain rations of the peasants to be cut back so that he could send more military exports around the world. He quipped that the people could live on “tree bark and grass.” When they resorted to cannibalism to survive, he turned a blind eye to their suffering.

5. Self-centered focus and ambition

Mao lived by visions of grandeur–and demoted, purged and killed all rivals who got in his way. During the infamous Long March in 1933-34, he deliberately ordered a rival militia of 100,000 men to march through a miserable swampland knowing that most of them would die. They did. He emerged victorious. In Korea, he sent hundreds of thousands of Chang Kai-shek’s troops to their deaths to “clean out” the Red Chinese army.

During the Cultural Revolution, his cult of personality reached its peak with over six billion of his pictures littering the landscape (ten for every person in China). Mao Tse-tung coveted absolute power in China and ruthlessly did what was necessary to reach his goal. Beyond that, he dreamed of ruling the world--“uniting” it under the banner of communist conquest.

Fortunately, he died before that maniacal vision could be realized.

6. Lying and deception

At every turn in his life, Mao lied his way to advantage.  Early on he didn’t tell the truth about his training to get into the communist party (CCP). When he received orders or cables from Stalin, he would either tell a falsehood, not pass the message on to subordinates, or send back a fabricated answer. His entire empire was built on lies–which is why he needed continuous purges of officials around him and those who were his rivals. No one trusted him because every move he made was usually based on incomplete information or deception.

Mao built his wealth and power on stealing land and goods from others. He called it “land reform”–but that was a lie. It was simple theft. He lied to Stalin about his military successes to gain more access to resources and technology (including atomic bombs). 

7. Torture and murder

This was the hardest part to read in The Unknown Mao. I can’t begin to describe the hideous forms of torture and death that Mao and his thugs used to torment and control the Chinese people. For thirty years, Mao and his minions used brutal means to terrorize the people into submission.

I’ve often wondered why hundreds of millions of people followed Mao Tse-tung. Simple: Abject fear. People were shot in the public square–hacked to pieces with knives–buried alive–gruesomely brutalized to enforce conformity–starved to death without mercy–and on and on. As Mao famously said, “Power comes through the barrel of a gun”–and he used his to kill more people than any man in history.

Seventy million people died through Mao’s ruthless carnage. Millions of others were tortured and scarred for life. There is nothing romantic and inspirational about Chinese communism. It was simply a gruesome “kill culture” (Mao’s own words).

To sum up, when looking at Mao Tse-tung’s life, you are looking at the face of Satan.

This is because the prince of darkness–Lucifer, the enemy of God–is the author of evil. He inhabited Mao. He motivated Mao. If you want to understand Satan, look honestly at the motives and actions of Mao or any other human tyrant.

You can also look into your own heart, because we can be the same–even if we don’t murder people.

To learn some lessons, even from a person like Mao, we must resist the satanic characteristics and move in the “opposite spirit”–which is the character of Jesus. He loved and submitted to his Heavenly Father, was pure in every way, loves little children, is full of mercy and compassion, lived to glorify his Father and laid down his life for us, who always told the truth (He IS the Truth – John 14:6), and came to give us eternal life (not death).

Wow–what a difference!

Rejecting the awful example of Mao, let’s enthrone Jesus in our hearts and live for him on earth:

  • Be reconciled to and love your Heavenly Father.
  • Commit to a life of purity within the sanctity of marriage.
  • Love children and always protect and champion them.
  • Live a life of mercy and compassion for others
  • Make your ambition to seek first God’s Kingdom.
  • Put on the belt of truth and breastplate of righteous living (Ephesians 6:14).
  • Live a life of love.

Resist the face of evil in this world.

Light it up with the beautiful face of Jesus Christ.



  1. Steph on February 9, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    "A Chinese Person"….your complete disregard, ("he only killed 3 million in the cultural revolution") for human life us disturbing. Your assertions that, since "the chinese people idolize him" and "he modernized china" are ridiculous. A person may choose to remain ignorant, even if some Chinese people actually do "idolize" him, that doesn't negate the broader point that Mao was an evil dictator who killed, stole, used, abused, plundered and destroyed. Those with your mentality, those who think of others as a collective, never seem to include themselves among the collective when attempting to argue your point. Funny how you can so easily disregard those victimized by Mao yet I would bet the farm that you consider yourself a unique individual and your opinions, "enlightened". Progressives like policies that include "breaking a few eggs to make an omelet" as long as they determine which "eggs" get broken. But hey, as long as it "modernizes China", right?

  2. A Chinese Person on October 5, 2016 at 11:18 pm

    Mao Zedong had shortcomings, but a biased american does not have the right to judge him that way. After all, the Chinese people still idolize him. Even if he did disregard some of his people. (he only killed 3 million in the cultural revolution) he still modernized china.

  3. kelly on March 2, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    People today keep looking for the 3rd anti-christ. To me after watching the special on AHC and reading this article….I would say he definitely qualified as one.

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