||Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) |
Zhou Enlai was the most popular leader in China during the 20th century. Even among the madness during the Cultural Revolution, he continued to make an effort to pursue democratic ideas, while at the same time supporting leaders like Mao. He exercised his diplomatic skill to open China rather than isolate it from the rest of the world. In turn, he brought China into a period of stable economic vitality, and many nations throughout the world cheered, as they could now trade their goods and services.
In 1898, Zhou was bon in Huaian, Jiangsu province. His childhood is said to have been an unhappy time of his life. Four months after his birth, he was adopted. Shortly after that his new foster father died. In 1907, when he was nine years old, his mother died, and his foster mother died. The despair and poverty brought the family to new lows. Zhou often worked the fields to secure food for his family. In 1910, when he was ten years old, he left Huaian and went to Manchuria. He studied academics there, and had excellent grades most of the time. In those days, he learned politics, which had a deep impact on his life. When he was fifteen years old, he began middle school in Tianjin. During his four-year stay there he surrounded himself in books, sports, and political movements. From ages 17 to 19, he studied at Japan.
After his release, in 1920, he went to France. In 1921 knowing that the CCP was established in Shanghai, he became a member. During his study in France in 1922, he established the Chinese Communist's Youth Group. After that, he studied in England for several months, and then went to Germany to study. In 1924, he returned to China, and he served an important with the CCP. In 1926 he directed a general strike in Shanghai which was occupied by the Kuomintang (Nationalist Army), but the uprising ended in ultimate failure. After this failure he returned to Shanghai with the rest of the CCP. He held prominent military and political posts in the Communist party, and from 1936 to 1935, he participated in the long march. During the Communist-Kuomintang rapprochement from 1936 to 1946, he moved as the chief Communist liaison. And when the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, he became premier and foreign minister. He took part in the Geneva Conference of 1954 and the Bandung Conference of 1955; a place where he exercised his excellent diplomatic skills. In 1958 he resigned as foreign minister, but retained his title as Premiere. As a practical person, Zhou maintained his position throughout all of Communist China's ideological upheavals, including the Great Leap Forward of 1958, and subsequently the Cultural Revolution. He made an effort to release comrades imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution, and as a result he was criticized by Jiang Qing and Red Guards. Before he became ill, in the early 1970s he was largely responsible for China's reestablishing contact with the West. And on January 8, 1976, when he was seventy-eight years old, he died.
Enlai had a certain charismatic and charming persona about him, and he often used this to aid him in diplomatic situations. His unhappy childhood had a great impact on his life. His sensitiveness, excessive behavior, and unbelievable contributions to work might have stemmed from his childhood. Because he had political toughness and understood western power, he was a sole leader in reforming China. He always chose the positive over the negative, and called on the people to unite and cooperate. In the end, many mourned his death, as they lost not only a leader, but also a brother, and a symbolic father.
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".
Enlai contributed to China's modernization and internationalization. In June 1953, he made five declarations for peace in the talks with Nehru. This declaration made China open, and not isolated, from the other Asian countries. He served as the diplomatic leadership for International Communism at the Geneva Conference in 1953. At the Bandung Conference of 1955, he maintained the right to possess Taiwan and demanded the approval of China, for in those days the country called China now was called CCP. His sophisticated diplomatic skill brought a lot of profit to China. He was drawn back from the political front lines in the early half of 1960s because he contradicted the Great Leap Forward. But during the Cultural Revolution he made a great effort to save comrades being persecuted or imprisoned. In the early of 1970s, he served a prominent post in the party. He suggested policies including his "Four Modernization" to reconstruct China having been destroyed and confused by the Cultural Revolution.