You are viewing a read-only archive of the Blogs.Harvard network. Learn more.

Interesting stories about Enlai Zhou

Barnouin, Barbara & Yu Changgen, Zhou Enlai: A Political Life, Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2006.

“The Chinese classics, such as Analects, great learning, Doctrine of the Mean, and Book of Poetry, aka. The Four Classics, have a big impact on Zhou’s virtue. “Loyalty to the king was another essential element of Confucian teaching, one that Zhou employed in his relations with the moern Chinese emperor, Mao Zedong, to whom he was the very picture of devotion.””

“He also read the essays of Zou Rong, who, in his pamphlet revolutionary Army, denounced the Manchu regime, called on patriots to join the army of revolution, and advocated reforms, such as the introduction of a republican form of government modeled after that of the United States.”

“Zhou’s interest in political history prompted him to read the works of progressive writers of the Qing dynasty such as Gu Yanwu (1613-1682) and Wang Fuzhi (1619-1692). . . . Because Western cultural influence was particularly pronounced in Tianjin, many works of Western literature were available to the students in translation.

“Continuing his education in Japan seemed an obvious choice for Zhou. . . . The country was admired for its reforms and industrial modernization and for its teaching of  modern sciences. It was widely believed that Japanese methods of developing national prosperity would offer models and concepts for the development and modernization of China. Zhou clearly wished to find in Japan a path for China’s salvation.”

“Zhou has arrived in Tokyo at a time when Japanese chauvinism was at its peak and its behavior toward China had become insolent and disdainful. Even more important was that Zhou did not find the Japanese model relevant to China. After nineteen months in the country, he concluded that it was far from an ideal society and that Japanese policies were characterized by external expansion and internal suppression.

“Although Xin Qingnian had been available at Nankai, Zhou—as he later explained—did not read it carefully at that time. In Tokyo, he rediscovered it anew, reading incessantly the issues at his disposal and absorbing concepts and ideas, which undoubtedly helped him clarify his thinking.”

Zhou’s purpose of stay in Europe was “to discover the social conditions in foreign countries and their methods of solving social problems, in the hope of applying these methods to china on his return. However, he had yet to adopt a specific ideology.”

“In 1924, the revolutionary movement, lead by Sun Yat-sen in cooperation with the CCP, began to develop and to attract more and more recruits, which it needed badly.”

“Unlike other Chinese students, who divided their time between work and study, Zhou devoted all his energies to writing and to revolutionary activities during his three years and eight months in Europe. For over a year, he wrote weekly dispatches on diplomatic events and international relations. . . . During his stay in Europe, zhoud began to work with many Chinese activists who later became important leaders of the party and the state. When he left Europe in the summer of 1924, Zhou thus had established an important network of relationships, upon which he would draw for the rest of his life.”


Fang, Percy Jucheng & Lucy Guinong J. Fang, Zhou Enlai-a Profile, Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1986.

“Two choices faced Zhou Enlai upon his graduation from Nankai: to look for a job or to go to college. He decided on the latter. . . . he thought it best to continue his studies in Japan, and with the help of some friends, the nineteen-year-old Nankai graduate scraped up enough money to make the journey eastwards in September 1917. He had entertained hopes of finding answers to the questions uppermost in his mind in Japan, to learn how to save and rebuild China, and to acquire the kind of new knowledge that would be needed on his return home.”

“After the October Revolution in Russia, Zhou “tried to understand what the dictatorship of the proletariat meant. He scanned the press, read all he could find about developments in the first socialist country in the world, and began to make a serious study of the doctrine underlying this world-shaking event. . . . they held rallies, staged demonstrations and launched a sustained anti-Japanese movement in Tokyo. . . . His attention thus divided, he had little time to prepare for the college entrance examination and failed to matriculate. Meanwhile, events in Beijing gave cause for alarm. . . Zhou decided that there was much more he could do in china. In April 1919 he was homeward bound after a nineteen-month stay abroad.”

“the journal edited by Zhou became an immediate success and soon progressed to a daily with a circulation of over twenty thousand – not bad at all for those days. It was popular with women readers, too, because it espoused their call for equality between the sexes and an end to the feudalistic conventions that shackled them.”

“Zhou Enlai reached France in December 1920, a politically mature twenty-two year old who had been through the revolutionary baptism of the May 4th Movement. . . . Zhou Knew exactly what he wanted out of his stay in Europe, and would not allow anything to deflect him from the goal he had set himself. He came to France with two specific aims in mind: To press on with the study of Marxism first begun in Japan and continued in his Tianjin Prison days, and second to find a cure for China’s ills. . . . Zhou was far form being the ivory-tower type. He did not confine himself to the classroom, studying for study’s sake, in isolation from reality. He spent his time looking at life around him to see how the French worked and lived and what problem they faced. He took jobs sporadically at French factories, where at close quarters he could get to understand better and carry on among workers of Chinese origin and work-study trainees like himself the kind of propaganda that would keep them on a patriotic, if not at the same time socialist, course.”

“Frugal, thrifty, careful with every penny, these virtues cultivated early on became life habits which were not abandoned when twenty-eight years later, as Premier of China, he could well afford creature comforts but distained them.”

“As leader of the European branch, Zhou had to shuttle between Paris and Berlin every now and then and often stayed long periods in Germany. During one extended visit to Berlin he made the acquaintance of Zhu De, twelve years his senior.” Zhou became Zhu De’s reference to join the Communist party.”

“After four years of work and study in Europe, Zhou Enlai, now twenty-six, had come of age politically and intellectually, ready to take on the tasks which lay before him. Upon his return to the city which Dr. Sun Yst-sen had made the headquaters to direct the national revolution, Zhou Enlai was appointed to the post of Political Director of the Whampoa Military Academy.”

Comments are closed.

Log in