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Chou En-lai(both: jō ĕn-lī), 1898–1976, Chinese Communist leader. A member of a noted Mandarin family, he was educated at an American-supported school in China and a university in Japan. His involvement in radical movements led to several months imprisonment. After his release he studied (1920–22) in France. A founder of the Chinese Communist partyCommunist party,
in China, ruling party of the world's most populous nation since 1949 and most important Communist party in the world since the disintegration of the USSR in 1991. Origins
Founded in 1921 by Chen Duxiu and Li Dazhao, professors at Beijing Univ.
..... Click the link for more information. , he established (1922) the Paris-based Chinese Communist Youth Group. After a few months in England, he studied in Germany. Zhou returned (1924) to China and joined Sun Yat-senSun Yat-sen
, Mandarin Sun Wen, 1866–1925, Chinese revolutionary. He was born near Guangzhou into a farm-owning family. He attended (1879–82) an Anglican boys school in Honolulu, where he came under Western influence, particularly that of Christianity.
..... Click the link for more information. , who was then cooperating with the Communists. He served (1924–26) as deputy director of the political department at the Whampoa Military Academy, of which Chiang Kai-shekChiang Kai-shek
, 1887–1975, Chinese Nationalist leader. He was also called Chiang Chung-cheng.
After completing military training with the Japanese Army, he returned to China in 1911 and took part in the revolution against the Manchus (see Ch'ing).
..... Click the link for more information. was commandant. After the Northern ExpeditionNorthern Expedition,
in modern Chinese history, the military campaign by which the Kuomintang party overthrew the warlord-backed Beijing government and established a new government at Nanjing.
..... Click the link for more information. began, he worked as a labor organizer. In 1927 he directed a general strike in Shanghai, opening the city to Chiang's Nationalist forces. When Chiang broke with the Communists, executing many of his former allies, Zhou became a fugitive from the KuomintangKuomintang
[Chin.,=national people's party] (KMT), Chinese and Taiwanese political party. Sung Chiao-jen organized the party in 1912, under the nominal leadership of Sun Yat-sen, to succeed the Revolutionary Alliance.
..... Click the link for more information. . Later, holding prominent military and political posts in the Communist party, he participated in the long marchlong march,
Chin., Changzheng, the journey of c.6,000 mi (9,660 km) undertaken by the Red Army of China in 1934–35. When their Jiangxi prov. Soviet base was encircled by the Nationalist army of Chiang Kai-shek, some 90,000 men and women broke through the siege (Oct.
..... Click the link for more information. (1934–35) to NW China. During the partial Communist-Kuomintang rapprochement (1936–46) he was the chief Communist liaison officer.
In 1949, with the establishment of the People's Republic of China at Beijing, Zhou became premier and foreign minister. He headed the Chinese Communist delegation to the Geneva Conference of 1954 and to the Bandung ConferenceBandung Conference,
meeting of representatives of 29 African and Asian nations, held at Bandung, Indonesia, in 1955. The aim—to promote economic and cultural cooperation and to oppose colonialism—was more or less achieved in an atmosphere of cordiality.
..... Click the link for more information. (1955). In 1958 he relinquished the foreign ministry but retained the premiership. A practical-minded administrator, Zhou maintained his position through all of Communist China's ideological upheavals, including the Great Leap Forward (1958) and the Cultural RevolutionCultural Revolution,
1966–76, mass mobilization of urban Chinese youth inaugurated by Mao Zedong in an attempt to prevent the development of a bureaucratized Soviet style of Communism.
..... Click the link for more information. (1966–76). Initially supportive of the latter, he was periodically attacked by Red Guards for attempting to shelter its victims. He was largely responsible for China's reestablishing contacts with the West in the early 1970s before becoming ill.
See biographies by D. W. Chang (1984), D. Wilson (1984), and G. Wenqian (2003, tr. 2007).