Chinese Communist leader and theorist. A founder of the Chinese Communist Party (1921), he commanded troops in the Chinese Civil War (1927-1949) and proclaimed the People's Republic of China in 1949. As party chairman and the country's first head of state (1949-1959), he initiated sweeping but misguided economic, agricultural, and industrial reforms that resulted in widespread starvation. He continued as party chairman after 1959 and was a leading figure in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1969). In the 1970s he consolidated his political power and established ties with the West.