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Zhou Enlai (1898–1976)

Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China (1949–76) and Foreign Minister (1949–58). Born into a gentry family, he went to Japan as a student but returned in 1919 after the anti‐Japanese May Fourth Movement. In 1920 he was in France where he became a Marxist and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), founded in 1921. Returning to China in 1924 he soon held a key position in the United Front of communists and nationalists as a political commissar at the Military Academy at Whampoa, headed by jiang jieshi (Chiang Kai‐shek). He organized the workers’ militia, which secured Shanghai for the advancing nationalist army in 1927. When Jiang turned on the communists, Zhou narrowly escaped execution. In 1931 he joined mao zedong in the Jiangxi Soviet, a communist‐controlled area and was Chairman of the CCP Military Committee, a position he gave up in favour of Mao during the Long March (1934–5), on which the communists survived nationalist attacks only by retreating north to Yanan. When Jiang was kidnapped at Xian in 1936 by some of his own troops, who wanted him to fight the Japanese rather than the communists, Zhou obtained his release and negotiated with Jiang another United Front against Japan. For the next few years he was the liaison between communists and nationalists. Following the communist victory in the chinese civil war (1946–9) and the foundation of the People's ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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