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Zhou Enlai

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Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Order:1st Premier
Term of Office:October 1, 1949 - January 8, 1976
Successor:Hua Guofeng
Date of BirthMarch 5, 1898
Place of Birth: Huaian, Jiangsu
Wife:Deng Yingchao
Political Party: Communist

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

Contents

Early years and education

Born in Huai'an, Jiangsu Province, the adopted eldest son of a well-to-do Tianjin family, Zhou was educated at Nankai University and in Japan at Meiji University (1915-1918). On his return to Nankai he was briefly arrested for his radical associations. After his release in 1920 he studied in France, England and Germany. He had joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1921 and Zhou returned to China in 1924 to work with Sun Yat-sen.

On August 8, 1925, he married Deng Yingchao, a student activist, in Tianjin. She later became a prominent member of the CPC. The couple remained childless, but adopted many orphaned children of "revolutionary martyrs"; one of the more famous was future Premier Li Peng.

Revolutionary career

Zhou first came to national prominence during the May Fourth Movement of 1919 when he led a raid on a local government office during the student protests against the humiliating Versailles Treaty. In 1920 Zhou moved to France where he was active among radical Chinese students. In 1921 he became a member of the French Communist Party and spent the next two years traveling in Europe.

Upon his return to China, he served as the chairman of the political department at the Whampoa Military Academy in Guangzhou when it was founded in 1926 (Whampoa's Comintern sponsors saw this posting as a way to balance Chiang Kai-shek's right-wing nationalism).

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 was able to escape the white terror. It has been said that he had been captured and released on the orders on Chiang Kai-Shek, to repay a debt from an occasion when Zhou had saved Chiang from violent leftists in Guangzhou. Zhou eventually made his way to the Jiangxi base area and gradually began to shift his loyalty away from the more orthodox, urban-focused branch of the CPC to Mao's new brand of rural revolution, and became one of the prominent members of the CPC. This transition was completed early in the Long March, when in January 1935 Zhou threw his total support to Mao in his power struggle with the 28 Bolsheviks Faction.

In the Yenan years Zhou was active in promoting a united anti-Japanese front. As a result he played a major role in the Xian Incident, helped to secure Chiang Kai-shek's release, and negotiated the Second CPC-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 (1937-1945) as CPC ambassador to Chiang's wartime government in Chongqing and took part in the failed negotiations following World War II.

Premiership

Zhou Enlai with President Nixon, Beijing, 1972
Enlarge
Zhou Enlai with President Nixon, Beijing, 1972
In 1949, with the establishment of the People's Republic of China, Zhou became Premier and Foreign Minister. Asked about the impact of the French Revolution of 1789 he replied, "It is too soon to say." In June 1953, he made the five declarations for peace. He headed the communist Chinese delegation to the Geneva Conference and to the Bandung Conference (1955). In 1958, he passed the post of Foreign Minister to Chen Yi but remained Premier.

Zhou's first major domestic focus after becoming premier was China's economy, at an ill stage after decades of war. He aimed at increased agricultural production, from the even distribution of land. Industrial progress was also on his to-do list.

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 from 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 Communiqu. 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 target of the Gang of Four's political campaigns.

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 important State Council matters. Zhou died on the morning of January 8, 1976, merely months before Mao. 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 Zhou's death as a terrible loss.

Inside China, the infamous Gang of Four (Jiang Qing and Co.) had seen Zhou's death as an effective step forward in their political manoevering, 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 was forced out of politics thereafter. Because Zhou was very popular with the people, many rose in spontaneous expressions of mourning across China, which the Gang considered to be dangerous. During the Qingming Festival in April 1976, the clamp-down on mourning for the "Beloved Premier" caused riots, largely because the Gang of Four believed people might manipulate the situation into expressing hatred towards them. Anti-Gang of Four poetry was found on some wreaths that were laid, and all wreaths were subsequently taken down at the Monument of People's Heroes. These actions, however, only further enraged the people.

Further reading

  • Eldest Son by Han Suyin, a general biography.
  • There is a new book published in 2003 in Hong Kong, Zhou Enlai's Later Years by Gao Wenqian which is of interest. No English translation may be available.

See also: History of the People's Republic of China

References

The PC game Deus Ex features a series of news blurbs from around the world of the mid-21st century; by this time China has built the Zhou Enlai mass driver for lunar mining.

External links

  • Zhou Enlai Biography (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/COLDenlai.htm) From Spartacus Educational


Preceded by:
None
Premier of the State Council
1949–1976
Succeeded by:
Hua Guofeng

Template:End boxde:Zhou Enlai fr:Zhou Enla it:Zhou Enlai ja:周恩来 nl:Zhou Enlai sl:Ču_En_Laj zh:周恩来

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