China, Mao
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Chairman Mao’s China

A large statue of Mao Tse-tung is a popular photo op at his birthplace in Shaoshan. The man who fought warlords, the Japanese and the U.S.-supported Nationalists and proclaimed the birth of a new China was born here in 1893, the son of a a comfortably well-off farmer. (Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times)
Mao’s idyllic-looking childhood home is nestled in a narrow green valley shouldered by rice paddies in Shaoshan. Nearby is his clan’s ancestral temple, where Mao started a night school for farmers in 1917, an early effort to mobilize China’s rural poor. (Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times)
A lovely covered walkway is on the grounds of Changsha’s Yuelu Academy, where Mao read and studied. It is in Changsha where one can catch glimpses of the as-yet-unquantified Mao, who composed poetry and, according to local lore, mastered the neat trick of reading history books while swimming in the Xiang River. (Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times)
Students gather at Yuelu Academy in Changsha. (Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times)
A sign greets a motorcyclist near Mao’s birthplace in Shaoshan in Hunan province. Such landmarks are popular with Chinese tourists, who now have enough money and the freedom to travel. (Susan Spano / Los Angeles Times)
In a momentous handshake, Richard Nixon meets Chairman Mao during the American president’s historic trip to China in 1972. (Associated Press)