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As Condition for the Rise of Mao's Single Party State, how can this event be said to have strengthened him?

The Twenty-one Demands from Japan put a large amount of pressure on China, as well as Yuan Shikai who had recently decided to claim himself as Emperor of China. Instead of going to war with Japan for refusing their demands, Yuan ended up agreeing to accept many of them to avoid the war. This did not go well for him when the Chinese populous completely turned on him and began to rebel in various areas.
This would help Mao Zedong in his rise to power, Due to the fact that he did not back down. Even though the situation may have been been better to simply agree with Japan than fight them, China's people did not support it. So later on, when Mao is Going against the GMD, he will be more respected by the main populous for having not backed down. The Twenty-one Demands incident could have been used as a strength for Mao to have pointed out in convincing the people of China, in a means of the possible 'failures' of the past and how he will not do the same, but rather improve upon as a leader.