Premier of the People's Republic of China
____; Chou follower; Zhou of China; Big name in Chinese history;
3 times a year
Nixon in China: Speech and Visit with Zhou Enlai (1972)
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.
But there is this similarity. Each of us is a traitor to his
Enlai (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 economy and restructuring of Chinese
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.
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. Although succeeded by Hua
Guofeng, it was Deng Xiaoping, Zhou's ally, who was able to
outmaneuver the Gang of Four politically and eventually take
Mao's place as Paramount leader by 1977.
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.
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.
debunking of Chinese leaders has become more common in recent
years, Zhou Enlai, unlike Mao, retained a positive legacy among
both Western and Chinese leaders. Henry Kissinger called Zhou
"one of the two or three most impressive men" he had
ever met, stating that "his commands of facts, in particular
his knowledge of American events and, for that matter, of my own
background, was stunning", despite Kissinger's dislike of
the Communist ideology that Zhou represented.
dissidents have questioned the nature of Zhou's relationship with
Mao, arguing that his moderation occasionally leaned towards
complacency. Gao Wenqian, a Chinese biographer, describes a
relationship between the two men as more complex than is commonly
portrayed. He argues that while Zhou was not entirely docile, he
did not do enough in protecting all of those he could have, at
times giving in to Mao's whims rather than consistently
mitigating them. Gao writes that Zhou was a survivalist, and
avoided directly opposing Mao, a move that would have led to his
political downfall. Deng Xiaoping may have overemphasized Zhou
Enlai's achievements to distance the Communist Party away from
Mao's disastrous Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution.
Enlai was known for his populist appeal, remaining popular even
in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution. Popular support for
the Premier led to the Tiananmen Incident of 1976.
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