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Zhou Enlai – Biography – Free PDF Download


  • Zhou Enlai was born in Huai’an, Jiangsu province on 5 March 1898, the first son of his branch of the Zhou family.
  • His father Zhou Yineng had a reputation for honesty, gentleness, intelligence and concern for others, but was also considered “weak” and “lacking in discipline and determination”.
  • Soon after birth, Zhou Enlai was adopted by his father’s youngest brother, Zhou Yigan, who was ill with tuberculosis. Zhou Yigan died soon after the adoption, and Zhou Enlai was raised by Yigan’s widow, whose surname was Chen.


  •  Zhou’s birth mother Wan died in 1907 when Zhou was 9, and his adoptive mother Chen in 1908 when Zhou was 10.
  • In Shenyang, Zhou attended the Dongguan Model Academy, a modern-style school. His previous education consisted entirely of homeschooling.
  • At the age of fourteen, Zhou declared that his motivation for pursuing education was to “become a great man who will take up the heavy responsibilities of the country in the future.“
  • Zhou did well in his studies at Nankai; he excelled in Chinese, won several awards in the school speech club, and became editor of the school newspaper in his final year.
  •  Zhou was also very active in acting and producing dramas and plays at Nankai.At the school’s tenth commencement in June 1917, Zhou was one of five graduating students.


  • Following many of his classmates, Zhou went to Japan in July 1917 for further studies. During his two years in Japan, Zhou spent most of his time in the East Asian Higher Preparatory School.
  • By the time that Zhou returned to China in the spring of 1919, he had become deeply disenchanted with Japanese culture, rejecting the idea that the Japanese political model was relevant to China.
  • Zhou’s diaries and letters from his time in Tokyo show a deep interest in politics and current events, in particular, the Russian Revolution of 1917.In July 1919, however, Zhou became editor of the Tianjin Student Union
  • Zhou assumed a more prominent active role in political activities over the next few months and arrested.Soon after his release, Zhou decided to go to Europe to study.
  • Zhou left Shanghai for Europe on 7 November 1920 with a group of 196 work study students, including friends from Nankai and Tianjin.
  • By 1924, the Soviet-Nationalist alliance was expanding rapidly and Zhou was summoned back to China for further work. He left Europe probably in late July 1924,returning to China as one of the most senior Chinese Communist Party members in Europe.
  • Zhou returned to China in late August or early September 1924 to join the Political Department of the Whampoa Military Academy.


  • In July 1926, the Nationalists began the Northern Expedition, a massive military attempt to unify China. The Expedition was led by Chiang Kai-shek and the National Revolutionary Army (NRA).
  • The Communists, whose party headquarters was located in Shanghai, made three attempts to seize control of the city, later called “the three Shanghai Uprisings”, in October 1926, February 1927 and March 1927.
  • Zhou was transferred to Shanghai to assist in these activities, probably in late 1926. The third Communist uprising in Shanghai took place from 20–21 March. 600,000 rioting workers cut power and telephone lines and seized the city’s post office, police headquarters, and railway stations, often after heavy fighting.
  • As the Communists attempted to install a soviet municipal government, conflict began between the Nationalists and Communists, and on 12 April Nationalist forces, attacked the Communists and quickly overcame them


  • Zhou left China for the Soviet Union to attend the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Sixth National Party Congress in Moscow, in June–July 1928.
  • During the Sixth Congress, Zhou was elected Director of the Central Committee Organization Department. His ally, Li Lisan, took over propaganda work. Zhou finally returned to China, after more than a year abroad, in 1929.
  • When the capital of Nanjing fell to the Japanese on 13 December 1937, Zhou accompanied the Nationalist government to its temporary capital of Wuhan. As the chief representative of the CCP in the nominal KMT-CCP cooperation agreement.


  • Zhou was successful in organizing large numbers of Chinese intellectuals and artists to promote resistance against the Japanese.
  • January 1938, the Nationalist government appointed Zhou as the deputy director to the Political Department of the Military Committee.
  • Despite worsening relations with Chiang Kai-shek, Zhou operated openly in Chongqing, befriending Chinese and foreign visitors and staging public cultural activities, especially Chinese theater.
  • Under Zhou, Communist businessmen made great profits in currency trading and commodity speculation, especially in American dollars and gold


  • On 27 January 1946 the CCP Secretariat appointed Zhou as one of eight leaders to participate in a future coalition government.
  • By January 1949 Communist forces seized Beijing and Tianjin, and were firmly in control of north China.
  • In December 1949 PLA troops captured Chengdu, the last KMT-controlled city on mainland China, forcing Chiang to evacuate to Taiwan.


  • By the early 1950s, China’s international influence was extremely low.China’s international prestige had declined to “almost nothing”.
  • The 1950–1953 Korean War greatly exacerbated China’s international position by fixing the United States in a position of animosity.
  • Following the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on 1 October 1949, Zhou was appointed both Premier of the Government Administration Council (later replaced by the State Council) and Minister of Foreign Affairs.


  •  Zhou became the architect of early PRC foreign policy, presenting China as a new, yet responsible member of the international community.
  • Zhou’s first diplomatic successes came as the result of successfully pursuing a warm relationship, based on mutual respect, with India’s first post-independence prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
  •  Through his diplomacy, Zhou managed to persuade India to accept China’s occupation of Tibet in 1950 and 1951. India was later persuaded to act as a neutral mediator between China and the United States during the many difficult phases of the negotiations settling the Korean War.


  • n 1952, Zhou signed an economic and cultural agreement with the Mongolian People’s Republic, giving de facto recognition of the independence of what had been known as “Outer Mongolia” in Qing times.
  • In April 1954, Zhou traveled to Switzerland to attend the Geneva Conference, convened to settle the ongoing Franco-Vietnamese War.
  • In 1955, Zhou was a prominent participant in the Asian–African Conference held in Indonesia. The conference in Bandung was a meeting of twenty-nine African and Asian states, organized by Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Pakistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and India, and was called largely to promote Afro-Asian economic.


  • In 1971, Zhou Enlai 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
  • Zhou Enlai died from cancer at  on 8 January 1976, aged 77.

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