As is known to us all, Zhou Enlai, as a communist party member, the first premier and foreign minister of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), has a high reputation from home and abroad. This paper includes four parts in total. It starts with the brief introduction to Zhou Enlai and then pays more attention to the second part about his contributions. Following is the third part about evaluations from domestic and international. The last part comes to the conclusion. Key words: Zhou Enlai reputation contributions evaluations
Zhou Enlai was born in Huai’an, Jiangsu Province on 5 March 1898, and died in Beijing on January 8, 1976. Zhou, an important member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from its beginnings in 1921, was the first Premier of PRC, serving from October 1949 to January 1976. Though Zhou severed as the Chinese Foreign Minister just from 1949 to 1958, he was a master in policy implementation, with infinite capacity for details. His skills and ability of diplomat impressed people all round the globe. He was of great help in consolidating the control of the Communist Party’s rise to power, forming foreign policies, and developing the Chinese economy.
To the liberation of the Chinese people and the foundation of a new China As I have mentioned in the first part, Zhou was born at the end of the 19th century, when China was suffering from internal and external. So, Zhou has dedicated himself to the cause of the liberation of the Chinese people since he was young. Between 1920 and 1924, he studied in France and Germany under a work-study program and spread Marxism among Chinese students and workers living there. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1922. During the period of the Great Revolution, he took an active part in the Northern Expedition and made important contributions to the overthrow of the reactionary rule of the northern warlords. He was also one of the leaders of Nanchang Uprising and one of the founders of the People’s Army after the failure of the Great Revolution in 1927.
In 1935, Zhou played an important role in supporting Mao Zedong’s propositions at Zunyi Conference which helped make the Long March of the Red Army a great success. When the Red Army arrived in Northern Shaanxi Province, Zhou, working under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on behalf of the Communist Party, held talks with Chiang Kai-shek who adopted measures to firstly maintain internal security and then repel foreign invasion, facing the Japanese invasion to Shenyang, China.
During the negotiations, Zhou firmly carried out Chairman Mao’s policy, skillfully compelled Chiang Kai-shek to stop the civil war and successfully led to the peaceful settlement of the Xi’an Incident, and thus promoted the formation of anti-Japanese national united front. In the Liberation War of China, he spared no pains to assist Mao Zedong in organizing and commanding the Three Great Campaigns and establishing the new China.
To Diplomatic Relations
After New China was founded, Premier Zhou also worked as the Foreign Minister for nine years, during which he made painstaking efforts to develop the basic diplomatic policies and form the Foreign Ministry, including formulating rules, systems and diplomatic disciplines. The Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence proposed by Premier Zhou that ” mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence ” remains the most important norm and standard which officials of the Foreign Ministry must abide by nowadays.
The Geneva Conference
In April 1954, Zhou, together with the delegation of the People’s Republic of China, attended the Geneva Conference, which was to settle the ongoing Franco-Vietnamese War. His patience and shrewdness assisted the major powers involved (the Soviets, French, Americans, and North Vietnamese) to reach the agreement ending the conflict, and made it possible that the independence of the three countries—South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia got the international recognition. Meanwhile, on behalf of the Chinese Government, Zhou put forward the five principles of peaceful coexistence as the criterion for the relationship between countries.
The Asian–African Conference
In 1955, Zhou was a prominent participator in the Asian–African Conference held in Indonesia. At the conference, Zhou skillfully maintained the right to possess Taiwan, demanded the approval of the People’s Republic of China, put forward his stand for “peaceful coexistence” and against “colonialism”, advocated “seeking common ground while putting aside differences” and made it possible that, the conference produced a strong declaration in favor of peace and actively carried out the peaceful coexistence of China’s foreign policy.
The Sino-American relations
By the early 1970s, Sino-American relations had begun to improve. In January 1970, the Chinese invited the American ping-pong team to China, initiating an era of “ping-pong diplomacy”. In 1971, Zhou met secretly with President Nixon’s security advisor, Henry Kissinger, who had flown to China to prepare for a meeting between Richard Nixon and Mao Zedong. After these meetings, Zhou successfully let the United States agree to allow the transfer of American money to China, to allow trades between American-owned ships and China (under foreign flags), and to allow Chinese exports into the United States since the Korean War. What’s more, the United States publicly acknowledged that Taiwan was an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China.
To promote the people’s well-being
During the establishment of the new Chinese government, he succeeded in getting support from people from all walks of life, which provided a solid foundation for the construction of the Chinese society and the consolidation of the new China. First foreign minister as he was, Zhou made it possible to create an international environment favorable to China’s construction and to promote world peace and human development. In 1954, he proposed the four modernization goal of constructing a modern industry, agriculture, transportation industry and national defense, which promoted the rapid development of the national science and technology. During the Cultural Revolution, he exerted himself to keep order in the critical situation, and made a great effort to save comrades being persecuted or imprisoned. In 1975, on behalf of the Party, he reintroduced his “Four Modernization” giving people the confidence and courage to reconstruct China having been destroyed and confused by the Cultural Revolution,
After his death, one million five hundred thousand people came to see his coffin, and memorials for him were held everywhere. One of the memorial reports devoted to Zhou Enlai wrote: “He looks to have left nothing for us. But…he have hundreds millions of children and grandchildren, and all the land of China is grave for him”. Qian Xuesen, father of the two bombs, once said, “According to what many non-party people said, they had no idea of the communist party of China until they got to know Zhou Enlai and it was because of him that they began to believe in the CCP.” The writer Bing Xin expressed her admiration that “Premier Zhou Enlai is the first perfect in the hearts of billion people of 20th century”.
On January 8, 1976, it was the exact day of Zhou’s death, in front of United Nations Headquarters in New York, the United Nations flag down a half-mast. The UN Secretary, who named General Kurt Waldheim, said, “In order to mourn Zhou Enlai, the United Nations is to half-mast. There are two reasons for me to make this decision: Firstly, China is an ancient civilization with many countless treasures of gold and silver, but she has no penny of Premier Zhou’s deposits; Secondly, China has a population of one billion and accounts for 1/4 of world’s population, but she has no child of Premier Zhou.” The First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy once said: “In the world I only worship one man, that is, Zhou Enlai.” Sihanouk lady Monika also said: “Zhou Enlai is my only idol!” To conclude this part, these evaluations not only mirror his incomparable wit diplomatic skills, but also reflect our beloved Premier Zhou noble characteristics admired in the world.
As I have mentioned above, Zhou Enlai enjoys a high reputation in China as well as in other countries, because of his incomparable diplomatic skills and devotion to the cause. Zhou devoted himself to his cause, making unremitting efforts to spread Marxism, making contributions to the liberation of the Chinese people and the development of China and sparing no pains to promote the Chinese people’s well-being and the peace of the world.
4. Gao Wenqian. Zhou Enlai: The Last Perfect Revolutionary. NY: Public Affairs, 2007. 5. Lee, Chae-jin. Zhou Enlai: The Early Years. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1994. 6. Levine, Marilyn. The Found Generation: Chinese Communists in Europe during the Twenties. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 1993. 7. Wilson, Dick. Zhou Enlai: A Biography. New York: Viking, 1984 8. Tang Jiaxuan. Tang Jiaxuan Elaborates Zhou Enlai’s Diplomatic Thinking in Tianjin Nankai Middle School. 中华人民共和国外交部