Zhou Enlai: Wikis


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This is a Chinese name; the family name is Zhou.
Zhou Enlai

In office
1 October 1949 - 8 January 1976
President Mao Zedong
Liu Shaoqi
Deputy Dong Biwu
Chen Yun
Lin Biao
Deng Xiaoping
Preceded by Mao Zedong
Succeeded by Hua Guofeng

In office
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Chen Yi

In office
December 1954 - January 8, 1976
Preceded by Mao Zedong
Succeeded by vacant (1976–1978)
Deng Xiaoping

Born March 5, 1898(1898-03-05)
Zhejiang, Qing Dynasty
Died January 8, 1976 (aged 77)
Beijing, People's Republic of China
Nationality Chinese
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Deng Yingchao
Religion Atheist
Military service
Battles/wars Zhongshan Warship Incident
Nanchang Uprising
Fourth Encirclement Campaign
Chinese Civil War
Second Sino-Japanese War
This article contains Chinese text. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Chinese characters.
Zhou Enlai
Traditional Chinese
Simplified Chinese

Zhou Enlai (simplified Chinese: 周恩来traditional Chinese: 周恩來pinyin: Zhōu ĒnláiWade-Giles: Chou En-lai) (5 March 1898 – 8 January 1976) was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976. Zhou was instrumental in the Communist Party's rise to power, and subsequently in the development of the Chinese Communist economy and restructuring of Chinese society.

A skilled and able diplomat, Zhou served as the Chinese foreign minister from 1949 to 1958. Advocating peaceful coexistence with the West, he participated in the 1954 Geneva Conference and helped orchestrate Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China. Due to his expertise, Zhou was largely able to survive the purges of high-level Chinese Communist Party officials during the Cultural Revolution. His attempts at mitigating the Red Guards' damage and his efforts to protect others from their wrath made him immensely popular in the Revolution's later stages.

As Mao Zedong's health began to decline in 1971 and 1972, Zhou and the Gang of Four struggled internally over leadership of China. Zhou's health was also failing however, and he died eight months before Mao on 8 January 1976. The massive public outpouring of grief in Beijing turned to anger towards the Gang of Four, leading to the Tiananmen Incident. Deng Xiaoping, Zhou's ally and successor as Premier, was able to outmaneuver the Gang of Four politically and eventually take Mao's place as Paramount Leader.


Early life

Zhou Enlai was born in Huai'an county, Jiangsu province on 5 March 1898, the first son of his branch of the Zhou family. The Zhou family were originally from Shaoxing in Zhejiang province. During the late Qing dynasty, Shaoxing was famous as the home of families such as Zhou's, whose members worked as government "clerks" (shiye) generation after generation.[1] To find government positions, the men in these families often had to move, and in the late years of the Qing dynasty, Zhou Enlai's branch of the family moved to Huai'an. Even after the move, however, the family continued to view Shaoxing as its ancestral home.[2]

Zhou's grandfather, Zhou Panlong, and his granduncle, Zhou Jun'ang, were the first members of the family to move to Huai'an. Panlong apparently passed the provincial examinations, and Zhou Enlai later claimed that Panlong served as magistrate governing Huai'an county.[3] Zhou's father, Zhou Yineng, was the second of Zhou Panlong's four sons. Zhou's birth mother, surnamed Wan, was the daughter of a prominent Jiangsu official.[4]

Soon after birth, Zhou Enlai was adopted by his father's youngest brother, Zhou Yigan, who was ill with tuberculosis. Apparently the adoption was arranged because the family feared Yigan would die without an heir.[5] Zhou Yigan died soon after the adoption, and Zhou Enlai was raised by Yigan's widow, whose surname was Chen. Madame Chen was also from a scholarly family and received a traditional literary education. According to Zhou's own account, he was very close to his adoptive mother and acquired his lasting interest in Chinese literature and opera from her. Madame Chen taught Zhou to read and write at an early age, and Zhou later claimed to have read the famous vernacular novel Xiyouji at the age of six.[6]

Zhou's birth mother Wan died in 1907 when Zhou was 9, and his adoptive mother Chen in 1908 when Zhou was 10. Zhou's father was working in Hubei, far from Jiangsu, so Zhou and his two younger brothers returned to Huai'an and lived with his father's remaining younger brother Yikui for the next two years.[7] In 1910, Zhou's uncle Yigeng, his father's older brother, offered to care for Zhou. The family in Huai'an agreed, and Zhou was sent to stay with his uncle in Manchuria at Shenyang, where Zhou Yigeng worked in a government office.[8]


In Shenyang, Zhou attended the Dongguan Model Academy, a Western style school. His previous education had been in family schools. In addition to new subjects such as English and science, Zhou was also exposed to the writings of reformers and radicals such as Liang Qichao and Zhang Binglin.[9] In 1913, Zhou's uncle was transferred to Tianjin, where Zhou entered the famous Nankai Middle School.

Nankai Midddle School was founded by Yan Xiu (Yan Fansun), a prominent scholar and philanthropist, and headed by Zhang Boling, one of the most important Chinese educators of the twentieth century.[10] Nankai's teaching methods were unusual in many respects. By the time Zhou began attending, it had adopted the educational model used at Phillips academy in the United States.[11] The school's reputation, with its "highly disciplined" daily routine and "strict moral code"[12] attracted many students who later became prominent in public life, and Zhou's friends and classmates there ranged from Ma Jun (an early communist leader executed in 1927) to K. C. Wu (later mayor of Shanghai and governor of Taiwan under the Nationalist party).[13]. Zhou's talents also attracted the attention of Yan Xiu and Zhang Boling. Yan in particular thought highly of Zhou, helping to pay for his studies in Japan and later France.[14]

Zhou did well in his studies at Nankai; he excelled in Chinese, won several awards in the school speech club, and became editor of the school newspaper in his final year. Zhou was also very active in acting and producing dramas and plays at Nankai; many students who were not otherwise acquainted with him knew of him through his acting.[15] Nankai preserves a number of essays and articles written by Zhou at this time, and these reflect the discipline, training, and concern for country that Nankai's founders attempted to instill in their students. At the school's tenth commencement in June 1917, Zhou was one of five graduating students honored at the ceremony, and one of the two valedictorians.[16]

Following many of his classmates, Zhou went to Japan in July 1917 for further studies. During his two years in Japan, Zhou spent most of his time in the East Asian Higher Preparatory School, a language school for Chinese students. Zhou's studies in Japan were supported by his uncles, and apparently Nankai founder Yan Xiu as well, but their funds were limited and during this period Japan suffered from severe inflation.[17] Zhou originally planned on winning one of the scholarships offered by the Chinese government; these scholarships, however, required Chinese students to pass entrance examinations in Japanese universities. Zhou took entrance examinations for at least two schools, but failed to gain admission,[18] and financial problems may have been one reason Zhou returned to China in the spring of 1919.

Some of Zhou's diaries and letters from Japan still exist; together with memoirs of his acquaintances, these give a sketch of Zhou's political development at this point. It seems that he devoted most of his time to learning Japanese and reading. His personal relations at this time were mostly limited to classmates from Nankai who had come to Japan, and at one point he was deputy secretary of the Nankai alumni association in Japan.[19]

In addition, however, his diaries and letters show that Zhou was deeply interested in politics and current events. In particular, he was fascinated by the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the new policies implemented by the Bolsheviks. He probably read some early Japanese works on Marx, and it has been claimed that he even attended Kawakami Hajime's lectures at Kyoto University. Kawakami was an important figure in the early history of Japanese Marxism, and his translations and articles influenced a whole generation of Chinese communists.[20] However, it now seems very unlikely that Zhou met him or heard any of his lectures.[21] Zhou's diaries also show his concern over Chinese student strikes in Japan in May 1918, when the Chinese government failed to send the students' scholarships, but he apparently was not deeply involved in the protest. His active role in political movements began after his return to China.

Early political activities

A young Zhou Enlai (1919)

Zhou returned to Tianjin sometime in the spring of 1919. The exact date is uncertain, but there is no record of his participation in the early activities of the famous May Fourth Movement (May to June 1919), even though his classmates and teachers from Nankai were all involved.[22] In July 1919, however, Zhou became editor of the Tianjin Student Union Bulletin, apparently at the request of his Nankai classmate, Ma Jun, who was one of the founders of the Union.[23] During its brief existence, from July 1919 to early 1920, the Bulletin was widely read by student groups around the country and suppressed one at least occasion by the national government as "harmful to public safety and social order."[24]

Zhou became a member of the first class of Nankai University in August, but did not attend classes. Instead, his political acitivities continued to expand and in September he and several other students agreed to establsh the "Awakening Society."[25] This was not a large group, numbering at the most 25 people. In some ways it resembled the clandestine Marxist study group at Peking University headed by Li Dazhao, with the group members using numbers instead of names for "secrecy." (Zhou was "Number Five," a pseudonym which he continued to use in later years.)[26] Indeed, immediately after the group was established, it invited Li Dazhao to give a lecture on Marxism. Within several years, 15 of the group's members became Communists. Zhou and six other group members wound up going to Europe in the next two years, where they were some of the first to become communists, and Zhou eventually married Deng Yingchao, who at 16 was the group's youngest member.

Zhou played a more and more active role in political activities over the next few months, organizing protests and the merger of the Tianjin Student Union and the Tianjin Association of Patriotic Women Comrades.[27] The largest events the group was involved in, however, were rallies in support of a nation-wide boycott of Japanese goods. As the boycott became more effective, the government, under pressure from Japan, attempted to suppress it. On 23 January 1920, a confrontation over boycott activities led to the arrest of a number of people, including several Awakening Society members, and on 29 January Zhou led a march on the Governor's Office in Tianjin to present a petition calling for the arrestees' release. Zhou and three other leaders were also arrested. The arrestees were held for over six months; at their trial in July, several were found not guilty, while Zhou and six others were sentenced to two months and immediately released since they had already spent longer than that in detention.

After Zhou's release, he and the Awakening society met with several Beijing organizations and agreed to form a "Reform Federation"; during these activities Zhou became more familiar with Li Dazhao and met Zhang Shenfu, who at the time was the contact between Li in Beijing and Chen Duxiu in Shanghai, where both were working on organizing underground Communist cells. Apparently Zhou did not meet Voitinsky, a Comintern agent who met with Li and Chen at this time.

Soon after his release, if not before, Zhou decided to go to Europe for study. (He had already been expelled from Nankai University during his detention.) Although money was a problem, he received a scholarship from Yan Xiu.[28] He also approached a Tianjin newspaper, Yishi bao, for work as "special correspondent" in Europe. Zhou left Shanghai for Europe on 7 November 1920 with a group of 196 work study students, including several friends from Nankai and Tianjin.

European activities

Zhou's group arrived in Marseilles 13 December. Still interested in academic programs, Zhou traveled to Britain in January 1921 to visit Edinburgh University. Concerned by financial problems and language requirements, he did not enroll, returning to France at the end of January. There are no records of Zhou entering any academic program in France. In spring 1921, he joined the Chinese Communist Party.[29]. Zhou was recruited by Zhang Shenfu, whom he had met in August of the previous year in connection with Li Dazhao. He also knew Zhang through Zhang's wife, Liu Qingyang, a member of the Awakening Society. Zhou has sometimes been portrayed at this time as uncertain in his politics,[30] but his swift move to the Party suggests otherwise.[31]

The cell Zhou belonged to was based in Paris, and in addition to Zhou, Zhang, and Liu included two other students, Zhao Shiyan and Chen Gongpei. Over the next several months, this group eventually formed a united organizaion with a group of Chinese radicals from Hunan, who were living in Montargis south of Paris. This group included such later prominent figures as Li Weihan, Li Fuchun, Cai Hesen, Li Lisan, Chen Yi, Nie Rongzhen, and Deng Xiaoping; The group also included Guo Longzhen, another member of the Awakening Society. Unlike Zhou, most of the students in this group were participants in the work-study program. A series of conflicts with the Chinese administrators of the program resulted in over a hundred students occupying the program's offices at the Sino-French Institute in Lyon in September 1921. The students, including several people from the Montargis group, were arrested and deported. Zhou was apparently not one of the occupying students and remained in France until February or March 1922, when he moved with Zhang and Liu from Paris to Berlin. Zhou's move to Berlin was perhaps largely because the relatively "lenient" political atmosphere in Berlin made it more favorable as a base for overall European organizing.[32] In addition, the Western European Secretariat of the Comintern was located in Berlin and it is clear that Zhou had important Comintern connections, though the nature of these is disputed.[33] From this point on, Zhou regularly shuttled between Paris and Berlin.

Zhou returned to Paris by June of 1922, where he was one of the twenty two participants present at the organization of the Chinese Youth Communist Party, established as the European Branch of the Chinese Communist Party.[34] Zhou drafted the party's charter and was elected to the party's three member executive committee as director of propaganda. He also established a party magazine, Shaonian (Youth), later renamed Chiguang (Red Light). This party went through several reorganizations and name changes, but Zhou remained a key member of the group throughout his stay in Europe. Other important activities Zhou undertook in this period include recruiting and transporting students for the University of the Toilers of the East in Moscow, and the establishment of the Chinese Nationalist Party European branch.

In June 1923, the Third Congress of the Chinese Communist Party accepted the Comintern's instructions to form a united front with the Chinese Nationalist party, led at the time by Sun Yat-sen. As part of the agreement, individual CCP members were allowed to join the Nationalist Party. Zhou not only joined, but actually helped organize the founding of the Party's European branch in November 1923. Under Zhou's influence, most of the European branch's officer were in fact Communists. Zhou's wide ranging contacts and personal relationships formed during this period were central to his career. Some of the most senior party leaders in later years, such as Zhu De and Deng Xiaoping, were first admitted to the party by Zhou.

By 1924, the Communist/Nationalist alliance was expanding rapidly. Zhou was summoned back back to China for further work. After turning over his work in the European branches of the Communist and Nationalist Parties, he left Europe, probably in late July 1921.[35] He returned to China as one of the most senior Chinese Communist party members in Europe.

Political and military work in Whampoa

In Whampoa Military Academy as Director of the political department.

Zhou landed at Hong Kong in in late August 1924, and soon joined the Political Department of the Whampoa Military Academy, probably through the influence of Zhang Shenfu, who had previously worked there.[36] The exact positions Zhou held at Whampoa and the dates he held them are not clear. A few months after his arrival, possibly October 1924, he became deputy director of the Academy's Political Department, and later, possibly November 1924, he became director of the department.[37]

Whampoa was at the heart of the Soviet-Nationalist Party alliance. Conceived as the training center of the Nationalist Party Army, it was to provide the military base from which the Nationalists would launch their campaign to unify China, which was split into dozens of military satrapies. Planning began for the academy immediately following the Nationalist Party's first Congress in January 1924, and it opened in May 1924, with its first class entering in June. Chiang Kai-shek was commandant of the school, and its staff members were largely Chinese graduates of Japanese military academies, or the Paoting and Yunnan military schools in China, assisted by about 20 Russian advisors. From its beginning, the school was supported and armed by Soviet funds, supplemented by local taxes.[38] The Political Department, where Zhou worked, was responsible for political indoctrination and control.

As a member of both Nationalist and Communist Parties, Zhou's work during this period was complex. His work for the Nationalists included both military and political tasks. In the Whampoa political adepartment, Zhou was responsible for the Nationalist forces' political indoctrination, often speaking at Academy meetings immediately after commandant Chiang Kai-shek. He also did important work establishing the political department/party representative (commissar) system which was later widely used in Nationalist forces.[39]

Militarily, Zhou participated in two major operations conducted by the Nationalist regime during his time at Whampoa. The first was in January 1925 when Chen Jiongming, an important Cantonese military leader previously driven out of Guangzhou by Sun Yat-sen, launched an attempt to retake Guangzhou. In response, the Nationalist regime organized a campaign against Chen later referred to as the First Eastern Expedition. The Expedition's forces consisted of units of the Guangdong Army under Xu Chongzhi, and two training regiments of the Nationalist Party Army, commanded by Chiang Kai-shek and staffed by Academy officers and cadets.[40] The fighting lasted through May 1925, with the defeat, but not destruction, of Chen's forces.[41] Zhou accompanied the Whampoa cadets on the expedition in his role as a political officer.

Chen attacked Guangzhou again in September 1925. The Nationalists responded by launching a second Eastern Expedition. Nationalist forces by this time had been reorganized into five corps (or armies). The First Corps, made up of the Nationalist Party Army, was commanded by Whampoa graduates and led by Chiang Kai-shek. This time the commissar system was fully implemented with Political Departments and party representatives in most divisions. Chiang himself appointed Zhou as the director of the First Corps Political Department,[42], and soon after the Nationalist Party's Central Executive Committee appointed Zhou as the Nationalist Party party representative, making Zhou chief commissar of the First Corps.[43] The first major battle of expedition saw the capture of Chen's base in Huizhou on 15 October. Shantou was taken on November 6, and by the end of the year, the Nationalists controlled all of Guangdong province.

Zhou's work for the Communist Party during this period was even more extensive. He attended the Fourth CCP Congress in Shanghai in January 1925, and was appointed to the Party's Guangdong Provincial Committee. He at some point became a member of the Committee's Military Section. This was a secret group of only three people, who in theory at least were members of the Provincial Central Committee.[44] The Section's work had two parts. First, it was responsible for organizing and directing CCP nuclei in the army itself. These nuclei, at the regimental level and above, were "illegal," meaning they were formed without the Nationalists' knowledge or authorization. It was also responsible for organizing similar nuclei in other armed groups, such as secret societies, and in key services such as railroads and waterways. Zhou apparently did extensive work in all of these areas.

In personal terms, 1925 was also an important year for Zhou. Since his departure for France, Zhou had been corresponding with Deng Yingchao, who had also become a dedicated member of the Communist Party. At the Fourth Congress, Zhou asked for and received permission from CCP authorities to marry her. Deng set out from Tianjin to Guangzhou in July and the two were married on 8 August 1925.[45] The couple never had children, but in later years adopted many orphaned children of "revolutionary martyrs"; one of the more famous was Li Peng, the nephew of Zhao Shiyan, whom Zhou had worked with in Paris.

Zhou's work at Whampoa came to an end with the Zhongshan Warship Incident. This complex event finally led to the exclusion of Communists at the Academy.

From Shanghai to Yan'an

Zhou Enlai (middle) and his wife Deng Yingchao with American journalist Edgar Snow, approx. 1938.

After the Northern Expedition began, he worked as a labour agitator. In 1926, he organized a general strike in Shanghai, opening the city to the Kuomintang. When the Kuomintang broke with the Communists, Zhou managed to escape the white terror. Zhou attended a July 1927 meeting with Zhu De, He Long, Ye Jianying, Liu Bocheng, – all future marshals of the army – and Mao to decide a response to Chiang’s blood purge. Their move was the Nanchang Uprising, led by Liu and Zhou.[46]

After that attempt failed, Zhou left China for the Soviet Union to attend the Chinese Communist Party's 6th National Party Congress in Moscow, in June-July 1928.[47] He was elected Director of the Central Committee Organization Department; his ally, Li Lisan took over propaganda work. Zhou finally returned to China, after more than a year away, in 1929.

In Shanghai, Zhou began to disagree with the timing of Li Lisan's strategy of favoring rich peasants and concentrating military forces for attacks on urban centers sometime in early 1930. Zhou did not openly break with these more orthodox notions, and even tried to implement them later, in 1931, in Jiangxi.[48]

Zhou moved to the Jiangxi base area and shook up the propaganda-oriented approach to revolution by demanding that the armed forces under communist control actually be used to expand the base, rather than just to control and defend it. In December 1931, he replaced Mao as Secretary of the 1st Front Army with Xiang Ying, and made himself political commissar of the Red Army, in place of Mao. Liu Bocheng, Lin Biao and Peng Dehuai all criticized Mao's tactics at the August 1932 Ningdu Conference.[49] Under Zhou, the Red Army defeated four attacks by Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist troops.[50] Only when the Nationalists were forced to change their tactics did Zhou endorse withdrawal. Zhou Enlai was thus one of the major beneficiaries of the 1931-34 side-lining of Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Tan Zhenlin, Deng Zihui, Lu Dingyi and Xiao Qingguang.

In early 1933, Bo Gu arrived with German Comintern adviser Otto Braun (aka Li De) and took control of party affairs. Zhou at this time, apparently with strong support from party and military colleagues, undertook to reorganize and standardize the Red Army. The results were the structure that led the communists to victory:

Leaders Unit Designation
Lin Biao, Nie Rongzhen 1st Corps
Peng Dehuai, Yang Shangkun 3rd Corps
Xiao Qingguang 7th Corps
Xiao Ke 8th Corps
Luo Binghui 9th Corps
Fang Zhimin 10th Corps

In the Yan'an years, Zhou was active in promoting a united anti-Japanese front. As a result, he played a major role in the Xi'an Incident, helped to secure Chiang Kai-shek's release, and negotiated the Second CCP-KMT United Front, and coining the famous phrase "Chinese should not fight Chinese but a common enemy: the invader". Zhou spent the Sino-Japanese War as CCP ambassador to Chiang's wartime government in Chongqing and took part in the failed negotiations following World War II.


Zhou, shown here with Henry Kissinger and Mao Zedong.
Zhou shakes hands with President Richard Nixon upon Nixons' arrival to China in February 1972.

In 1949, with the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Zhou assumed the role of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In June 1953, he declared the five principles for peaceful coexistence. He headed the Communist Chinese delegation to the Geneva Conference and to the Bandung Conference (1955).

He survived a covert proxy assassination attempt by the nationalist Kuomintang under the government of Chiang Kai-shek on his way to Bandung. A time bomb with an American-made MK-7 detonator was planted on a charter plane Kashmir Princess scheduled for Zhou's trip. Zhou changed planes but the rest of his crew of 16 people died. Zhou was a moderate force and a new influential voice for non-aligned states in the Cold War; his diplomacy strengthened regional ties with India, Burma, and many southeast Asian countries, as well as African states. In 1958, the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs was passed to Chen Yi but Zhou remained Prime Minister until his death in 1976.

Zhou's first major domestic focus after becoming premier was China's economy, in a poor state after decades of war. He aimed at increased agricultural production through the even redistribution of land. Industrial progress was also on his to-do list. He additionally initiated the first environmental reforms in China. In government, Mao largely developed policy while Zhou carried it out.

In 1958, Mao Zedong began the Great Leap Forward, aimed at increasing China's production levels in industry and agriculture with unrealistic targets. As a popular and practical administrator, Zhou maintained his position through the Leap. The Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) was a great blow to Zhou. At its late stages in 1975, he pushed for the "four modernizations" to undo the damage caused by the campaigns.

Known as an able diplomat, Zhou was largely responsible for the re-establishment of contacts with the West in the early 1970s. He welcomed US President Richard Nixon to China in February 1972, and signed the Shanghai Communiqué.

After discovering he had cancer, he began to pass many of his responsibilities onto Deng Xiaoping. During the late stages of the Cultural Revolution, Zhou was the new target of Chairman Mao's and Gang of Four's political campaigns in 1975 by initiating "criticizing Song Jiang, evaluating the Water Margin", alluding to a Chinese literary work, using Zhou as an example of a political loser. In addition, the Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius campaign was also directed at Premier Zhou because he was viewed as one of the Gang's primary political opponents.

Death and reactions

Zhou was hospitalized in 1974 for bladder cancer, but continued to conduct work from the hospital, with Deng Xiaoping as the First Deputy Premier handling most of the important State Council matters. Zhou died on the morning of 8 January 1976, aged 77. He died eight months before Mao Zedong. Zhou's death brought messages of condolences from many non-aligned states that he affected during his tenure as an effective diplomat and negotiator on the world stage, and many states saw his death as a terrible loss. Zhou's body was cremated and the ashes scattered by air over hills and valleys, according to his wishes.

Inside China, the infamous Gang of Four had seen Zhou's death as an effective step forward in their political maneuvering, as the last major challenge was now gone in their plot to seize absolute power. At Zhou's funeral, Deng Xiaoping delivered the official eulogy, but later he was forced out of politics until after Mao's death.

Because Zhou was very popular with the people, many rose in spontaneous expressions of mourning across China, which the Gang considered to be dangerous, as they feared people might use this opportunity to express hatred towards them. During the Tiananmen Incident in April 1976, the Gang of Four tried to suppress mourning for the "Beloved Premier", which resulted in rioting. Anti-Gang of Four poetry was found on some wreaths that were laid, and all wreaths were subsequently taken down at the Monument to the People's Heroes. These actions, however, only further enraged the people. Thousands of armed soldiers repressed the people’s protest in Tiananmen Square, and hundreds of people were arrested. The Gang of Four blamed Deng Xiaoping for the movement and temporarily removed him from all his official positions.

Since his death, a memorial hall has been dedicated to Zhou and Deng Yingchao in Tianjin, named Tianjin Zhou Enlai Deng Yingchao Memorial Hall (simplified Chinese: 天津周恩来邓颖超纪念馆traditional Chinese: 天津周恩來鄧穎超紀念館pinyin: Tiānjīn Zhōu Ēnlái Dèng Yǐngchāo Jìniànguǎn), and there was a statue erected in Nanjing, where in the 1940s he tried to get the Kuomintang to focus on fighting the Japanese. There was an issue of national stamps commemorating the first anniversary of his death in 1977, and another in 1998 to commemorate his 100th birthday.


Zhou Enlai is regarded as a skilled negotiator, a master of policy implementation, a devoted revolutionary, and a pragmatic statesman with an unusual attentiveness to detail and nuance. He was also known for his tireless and dedicated work ethic, and his unusual charm and poise in public. He is reputedly the last Mandarin bureaucrat in the Confucian tradition. Zhou's political behaviour should be viewed in light of his political philosophy as well as his personality. To a large extent, Zhou epitomized the paradox inherent in a communist politician with traditional Chinese upbringing: at once conservative and radical, pragmatic and ideological, possessed by a belief in order and harmony as well as a faith, which he developed very gradually over time, in the progressive power of rebellion and revolution. Henry Kissinger has called Zhou "one of the two or three most impressive men" he had ever met.[51]

Though a firm believer in the Communist ideal on which the People's Republic was founded, Zhou is widely believed to have moderated the excesses of Mao's radical policies within the limits of his power. It has been assumed that he protected imperial and religious sites of cultural significance (such as the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet) from the Tibetan Red Guards, and shielded many top-level leaders, including, Deng Xiaoping, as well as many academics and artists from purges.

See also


  1. ^ Lee 7.
  2. ^ Lee 6.
  3. ^ Lee (180 n7) cites a recent study that claims Zhou Panlong did not actually serve as county magistrate.
  4. ^ During the Cultural Revolution, when "red" (poor) family background became essential for everything from college admission to government service, Zhou had to go back to his mother's mother whom he claimed was a farmer's daughter, to find a family member who qualified as "red" (Barnouin and Yu 11).
  5. ^ This is the reason for the adoption given in Gao (23). Lee (11) suggests that it was due to the belief that having a son could cure a father's illness.
  6. ^ Lee 17, 21.
  7. ^ This is based on Lee's account (16-17).
  8. ^ Zhou's father may have also been in Manchuria at this time, and Zhou may have lived with him for a while. Afterwards Zhou's contacts with his father diminished. He died in 1941. See Lee 19-21 for a discussion of Zhou's relationship with his father.
  9. ^ Lee 25-26.
  10. ^ Boorman (101) calls him "one of the founders of modern education in China".
  11. ^ Lee 39, 46.
  12. ^ Lee 43
  13. ^ Lee 55 and 44
  14. ^ Lee 77 and 152
  15. ^ Lee 64-66
  16. ^ Lee 74
  17. ^ Lee 86, 103
  18. ^ Lee 89
  19. ^ Lee 101
  20. ^ Boorman (332) makes the claim that Zhou attended Kawakami's lectures
  21. ^ Lee 104
  22. ^ Lee 118-119
  23. ^ Lee 125
  24. ^ Lee 127-8
  25. ^ Lee 133.
  26. ^ Lee 137.
  27. ^ Lee 138.
  28. ^ Lee 152
  29. ^ The date of this has been controversial. Most writers, such as Gao (41), now accept March 1921. This would make Zhou one of the most senior members of the CCP.
  30. ^ Gao 40, Levine 150.
  31. ^ Levine (151 n47) questions whether Zhou was at this point a "stalwart" Communist.
  32. ^ Lee 159
  33. ^ Levine 169-172
  34. ^ This description is based on Lee 161. Other sources give varying dates, places, and numbers of people.
  35. ^ Lee cites Zhou's last public activity in Europe as a Nationalist party farewell dinner on July 24.
  36. ^ Lee 165.
  37. ^ The conflicting evidence is summarized in Wilbur, Missionaries 196 n7. Another point of confusion is that Chou was later head of the Political Training Department. This was not part of Whampoa, but was a unit of the central government, responsible directly to the National Government Military Council (Wilbur, Revolution 33).
  38. ^ Wilbur 13-14.
  39. ^ Wilbur, Missionaries, 238.
  40. ^ Wilbur, Revolution 20. As Wilbur notes, Russian advisors played important roles in these early campaigns.
  41. ^ Boorman, "Ch'en Chiung-ming" 179.
  42. ^ Wilbur, Missionaries, 203 n92
  43. ^ Wilbur, Missionaries, 175.
  44. ^ Wilbur, Missionaries, 244 has a detailed discussion of the section.
  45. ^ Barnouin and Yu, 33-34.
  46. ^ Whitson, and Huang, p. 30
  47. ^ Whitson and Huang, p. 39-40
  48. ^ Whitson and Huang, p. 40.
  49. ^ Whitson and Huang, p. 57-58
  50. ^ Wilson, p. 51
  51. ^ Time http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,947463,00.html


  • Barnouin, Barbara and Changgen Yu. Zhou Enlai: A Political Life. Hong Kong: Chinese University of Hong Kong, 2006.
  • Boorman, Howard L. ed. Biographical Dictionary of Republican China. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967-71.
  • Gao Wenqian. Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary. NY: Public Affairs, 2007.
  • Han Suyin. Eldest Son: Zhou Enlai and the Making of Modern China. New York: Hill & Wang, 1994.
  • Lee, Chae-jin. Zhou Enlai: The Early Years. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994.
  • Levine, Marilyn. The Found Generation: Chinese Communists in Europe during the Twenties. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1993.
  • Whitson, William W. and Huang, Chen-hsia. The Chinese High Command: A History of Communist Military Politics, 1927-71. New York: Praeger, 1973.
  • Wilbur, C. Martin. The Nationalist Revolution in China: 1923-1928. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
  • Wilbur, C. Martin and Julie Lien-ying How. Missionaries of Revolution: Soviet Advisers and Nationalist China, 1920-1927. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1989.
  • Wilson, Dick. Zhou Enlai: A Biography. New York: Viking, 1984.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China
1949 — 1976
Succeeded by
Hua Guofeng acting
Preceded by
Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China
Succeeded by
Chen Yi
Preceded by
Mao Zedong
Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
1954 — 1976
Succeeded by
Deng Xiaoping
Party political offices
Preceded by
Wang Ming
Head of the CPC Central United Front Department
Succeeded by
Li Weihan
Preceded by
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Served alongside: Chen Yun, Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Lin Biao

Succeeded by
Lin Biao
Preceded by
Lin Biao
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Succeeded by
With Kang Sheng (until 1975), Li Desheng, Wang Hongwen, Ye Jianying
Preceded by
Himself alone
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Served alongside: Kang Sheng (until 1975), Li Desheng, Wang Hongwen, Ye Jianying

Succeeded by
Li Desheng, Wang Hongwen, Ye Jianying


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Zhou Enlai (March 5, 1898January 8, 1976), a prominent Chinese Communist leader, was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, from 1949 until his death.

All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.



  • All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.
    • Saturday Evening Post (March 27, 1954)
    • A play upon the famous maxim of Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of politics by other means."
  • China is an attractive piece of meat coveted by all … but very tough, and for years no one has been able to bite into it.
    • To Chinese Communist Party Congress, New York Times (September 1, 1973)


  • China and North Vietnam are closely united to each other, like the lips and the teeth.
    • In Hanoi (March 5, 1971)
  • For us, it is all right if the talks succeed, and it is all right if they fail.
    • On President Richard Nixon’s visit to China (October 5, 1971)
  • It is too soon to say. (Also cited as "It's too early to tell.")
    • When asked about the impact of the French Revolution of 1789.
  • Nikita Khrushchev: The difference between the Soviet Union and China is that I rose to power from the peasant class, whereas you came from the privileged Mandarin class.
    Zhou: True. But there is this similarity. Each of us is a traitor to his class.

Quotes about Zhou

  • It is a little bit humiliating when I have to say that Chou En-lai to me appears as the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics... so much more dangerous than you imagine because he is so much better a man than you have ever admitted.
    • Dag Hammarskjöld, in a letter to a friend, as quoted in Hammarskjöld (1972) by Brian Urquhart

External links

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