Mao Zedong was a product of the international environment. As a youth, he read about and admired George Washington both as a general and a supporter of democracy. At school in Changsha he was influenced by the writing of the American-educated Sun Yat-sen, who supported replacing the schlerotic and out-of-touch Chinese monarchy with a modern Western-style republic. Mao continued to study Western thinkers after graduating from the Changsha school, immersing himself, among others, in Adam Smith, Darwin, and Rousseau.
At Peking University, Mao came under the influence of Li Dazhao, a librarian who wrote newspaper articles about the Russian Revolution. Mao was deeply influenced by reading Western communists such as Lenin, Marx, and Engels. When Dazhao became a communist, Mao did as well, becoming one of the first in China and organizing the Changsha branch of the Chinese Communist Party.
When Mao took control of China, he followed Russia's lead in investing in large scale industrial projects meant to make the country competitive with West, and like the Russian communists, instituted aggressive Five-Year-Plans and the collectivization of farming.
Without the shaping influence of international thought, Mao would not have entertained the kind of radical ideas he did about modernizing and bringing revolutionary change to China. He certainly never would have become a communist and sought to transplant communist ideals to his homeland.