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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Comrade Zhou Enlai: A remarkable revolutionary life in 55 photos



Published in 1978 in honour of the great Marxist-Leninist revolutionary hero of the Chinese people, Comrade Zhou Enlai, this archive of many unusual photos contains images of significance from throughout his remarkable life.


Here we have published 55 of these photos along with some commentary from the original publication and some added new commentary.


(Please note that some of the original text uses older versions of Chinese place names.)


Comrade Zhou Enlai:


Comrade Zhou Enlai was a fine member of the Communist Party China, a great proletarian revolutionary, an outstanding communist fighter and an eminent, long-tested Party and state leader of the Chinese people. He was a close comrade-in-arms of the great leader and teacher Chairman Mao. Comrade Zhou Enlai's life was one of glorious struggle for the cause of communism and one of continuing the revolution with perseverance. He is an example that the whole Party, army and people should learn from.


From his youth he dedicated himself to the cause of the liberation of the Chinese people. He took an active part in the May 4th Movement of 1919. undertaking revolutionary activities against imperialism and feudalism. Between 1920 and 1924. he studied in France and Germany under a work-study programme and spread Marxism among Chinese students and workers living in Europe. He joined the Communist Party of China in 1922. became Secretary of the European General Branch of the Chinese Communist Youth League and worked in the European General Branch of the Communist Party of China. During the period of the First Revolutionary Civil War, he participated in the Northern Expedition and made important contributions to the overthrow of the reactionary rule of the northern warlords. From 1924 to 1926. he served successively as Chairman of the Kwangtung-Kwangsi Regional Committee of the Com-munist Party of China. Director of the Political Department of the Whampoa Military Academy. Director of the Political Department of the First Army of the National Revolutionary Army and Standing Committee Member and concurrently Military Affairs Department Director of the C.P.C. Kwangtung-Kwangsi Regional Committee. He went to Shanghai in the winter of 1926 to work with the Party Central Committee and later became Secretary of the C.P.C. Kiangsu-Chekiang Regional Military Committee and Secretary of the Military Commission of the C.P.C. Central Committee. He was the principal leader of the 1927 Shanghai workers' armed uprisings.


After Chiang Kai-shek and then Wang Jingwei betrayed the revolution. Comrade Zhou together with other comrades, led the August Nanchang Uprising to Save the revolution; in that uprising he was Secretary of the C.P.C. Front Committee. During the Second Revolutionary Civil War period, he also carried on the Party's underground revolutionary work in Shanghai. served as Director of the Organization Department of the C.P.C. Central Committee and Secretary of the Military Commission of the Party Central Committee and held other posts. After he entered the Central Revolutionary Base Area in Kiangsi in December 1931, he was Secretary of the Central Bureau of the Central Soviet Arm, Political Commissar of the First Front Army of the Chinese Workers and Peasants' Red Army and Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Party Central Committee and held other posts. He remained after the Tsunyi Meeting as Vice-Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Commission of the Party Central Committee under Chairman Mao's leadership and took part in organizing and leading the Chinese Workers and Peasants' Red Army in its triumphant Long March. When the Sian Incident occurred in December 1936, Comrade Zhou Enlai, as the representative with full powers of our Party, held talks with Chiang Kai-shek who was then under arrest by the patriotic Kuomintang generals advocating resistance against Japan.


During the negotiations. he firmly adhered to Chairman Mao's policy and compelled Chiang Kai-shek to stop the civil war and brought about the peaceful settlement of the Sian Incident, and thus promoted the formation and development of the national united front against Japanese aggression. During the War of Resistance Against Japan he engaged in united front work in the Kuomintang areas and led the work of the Party organizations there as the representative of the Party Central Committee and Secretary of its Southern Bureau. Stationed for a long time in Chungking, then the seat of the Kuomintang government, he was fearless in the face of danger. firmly adhered to Chairman Mao's policies and fought heroically against the Kuomintang's counter-revolutionary policy of being passive in resisting Japan but active in anti-communism.


In August 1945. during the early period of the Third Revolutionary Civil War, he accompanied Chairman Mao to Chungking for negotiations with the Kuomintang, After the signing of the "October 10th Agreements", he, as leader of the C.P.C. delegation, continued to wage tit-for-tat struggles against the U.S.-Chiang reactionaries in Chungking and Nanking. Comrade Zhou Enlai returned to Yenan from Nanking in November 1946. When the Chiang Kai-shek forces launched massive attacks on the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region in March 1947. Comrade Zhou Enlai remained in northern Shensi with Chairman Mao and took part in directing the People's Liberation War.


During the new historical period in China of socialist revolution and proletarian dictatorship. Comrade Zhou Enlai was Premier of the Government of the People's Republic of China from the time of its founding and for a period was concurrently Minister of Foreign Affairs; he was Vice-Chairman of the Military Commission of the C.P.C. Central Committee, Vice-Chairman of the First National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Chairman of its Second and Third National Committees. He was also elected a Deputy to the First. Second, Third and Fourth National People's Congresses.


Comrade Zhou Enlai was elected to the Central Committee at the Fifth and all subsequent National Congresses of the Party. He was elected Alternate Member of the Political Bureau at the August 7 Meeting of 1927 of the Central Committee. Starting with the Party's Sixth National Congress he was elected uninterruptedly to full membership in the Political Bureau of the Central Committee. Comrade Zhou Enlai was elected Secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee at the Fifth Plenary Session of the Sixth Central Committee and at the First Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Party. He was elected a Member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee at the First Plenary Session of the Eighth, the Ninth and the Tenth Central Committee of the Party. He was elected Vice-Chairman of the Central Committee at the First Plenary Session of the Eighth and the Tenth Central Committee of the Party.


Comrade Zhou Enlai was loyal to the Party and the people, and true always to the principles of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought.


He died on January 8, 1976.

Comrade Zhou Enlai on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, delivers the Political Report to the CPC's Tenth National Congress, August 1973


Zhou Enlai in Tientsin during the May 4th Movement in 1919


Zhou took an active role in the May 4th Movement of 1919, undertaking revolutionary activities against imperialism and feudalism.


Zhou Enlai in Paris


Zhou Enlai in Berlin, 1922


Between 1920-1924 he studied in France and Germany under a work-study program and spread Marxism among Chinese workers and students living in Europe.


Zhou Enlai in Guangzhou during the First Revolutionary Civil War period


During the period of the First Revolutionary Civil War, Zhou participated in the Northern Expedition and made important contributions to the overthrow of the reactionary rule of the northern warlords. From 1924 to 1926, he served successively as Chairman of the Kwangtung-Kwangsi Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China, Director of the Political Department of the Whampoa Military Academy, Director of the Political Department of the First Army of the National Revolutionary Army and Standing Committee Member and concurrently Military Affairs Department Director of the C.P.C. Kwang-tung-Kwangsi Regional Committee. He went to Shanghai in the winter of 1926 to work with the Party Central Committee and later became Secretary of the C.P.C. Kiangsu-Chekiang Regional Military Committee and Secretary of the Military Commission of the C.P.C. Central Committee. He was the principal leader of the 1927 Shanghai workers' armed uprisings.


Zhou Enlai upon his arrival in northern Shaanxi


From October 1934 to October 1935. Comrade Zhou Enlai took part in organizing and leading the Chinese Workers' and Peasants' Red Army in its triumphant 25,000-li Long March.


Zhou Enlai at an airfield in Yan'an after returning from negotiations that resolved the Xi'an Incident and led to a united popular resistance front with the Kuomintang against the Japanese invasion and occupation.


Mao and Zhou Enlai in front of the cave dwellings, Phoenix Hill, Yan'an 1937


Zhou Enlai and Kang Sheng (left) in Yan'an, 1937


Kang Sheng after the Revolution went on to hold a number of important posts including Vice Chairman of the Chinese Communist Party and Vice Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. He died in 1975.


Zhou Enlai and New Fourth Army Commander Ye Ting, southern Anhui, March 1939


Originally with the Kuomintang Ye Ting became a Communist in 1924 and fought with them. In 1941 he was arrested by order of Chiang Kai-shek and jailed until 1946. Right after his release he was killed in a plane crash along with his family and several other Communist leaders. The crash has always been regarded as suspicious.


Zhou Enlai in the office of the Delegation of the Communist Party of China, No.50, Chongqing c. 1939


Chongqing was provisional wartime capital of the Republic of China during the resistance against occupation and invasion by fascist Japan. At this time the Communists and the Kuomintang were in an alliance.


Mao and Zhou Enlai, Yan'an 1945


Mao and Zhou Enlai on the rostrum of the 7th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, April 1945


Zhou Enlai and Mao arriving for negotiations with the Kuomintang, August 1945


Comrade Zhou Enlai and Comrade Dong Biwu


After the signing of the "October 10th Agreements" between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party in 1945, Zhou Enlai as head of the Delegation of the Communist Party of China continued to wage a tit-for-tat struggle against U.S.-Kuomintang reactionaries in Chongqing and Nanjing. Photograph shows Comrade Zhou Enlai and Comrade Dong Biwu (who would go on to become the acting Chairman of the People's Republic of China between 1972 and 1975) in the courtyard of the Meiyuan Xincun complex in Nanjing which held the office of the CPC delegation. Meiyuan Xincun is now a memorial museum devoted to the CPC and Zhou Enlai.


Zhou Enlai and Mao, Xibaipo Village, Pingshan County, north China's Hebei Province, 1948


Xibaipo became famous as the village where the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) often stayed in the final months and days leading up to its victory. "New China set off from here" is the village's slogan.


Zhou Enlai press conference, 1946


On November 16. 1946. Comrade Zhou Enlai held a final conference for the Chinese and international reporters in the conference room of the Delegation of the Communist Party of China in Nanjing. He angrily denounced Chiang Kai-shek for launching a reactionary civil war and all-out attack on the liberated areas.


Zhou Enlai at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, March 1949


Zhou Enlai giving a mobilization report in Shenchuanpu, Northern Shaanxi, during the People's Liberation War, March 1947


When the Chiang Kai-shek forces launched massive attacks on the Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region in March 1947, Comrade Zhou Enlai remained in northern Shaanxi with Chairman Mao and took part in directing the People's Liberation War


Zhou Enlai at the grand ceremony in celebration of the founding of the People's Republic of China on the on the Tiananmen rostrum, October 1, 1949.


One of the most important days in modern human history.


Comrade Zhou Enlai speaking at the First Session of the First National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, September 1949.


Premier Zhou Enlai delivering the "Report on the Work of the Government" at the First Session of the First National People's Congress. September 1954.


Zhu De, Mao and Zhou Enlai at the opening of the First People's Liberation Army Sports Meet in 1952.


At the time Zhu De was the Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army.


Premier Zhou Enlai discussing a document with Chairman Mao at the 24th Session of the Central People's Government Council, 1953.


Comrade Zhou Enlai delivering a speech at the Ninth National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, April 1969.


Zhou Enlai with famed American Left journalist Anna Louise Strong in Yan'an, 1947


Comrade Zhou Enlai at the Second Plenary Session of the Ninth Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. August 1970


Zhou Enlai at the head of the Chinese government delegation attending the Geneva Conference convened in Switzerland, April 1954.


Zhou Enlai returning to Beijing, 1964.


From December 1963 to February 1964, in the company of Vice-Premier Chen Yi, Premier Zhou Enlai visited Albania. ten African countries and three Asian countries, thereby further strengthening the friendship and unity of the Chinese people with the people of these countries. Photograph shows Zhou Enlai and Vice-Premier Chen Yi receiving a rousing welcome upon their return to Beijing.


Comrade Zhou Enlai and Comrade Deng Yingchao with American author and supporter of Communist China Edgar Snow during a visit to the Miyun Reservoir, August 1960.


Comrade Zhou Enlai with Vice-Premier He Long greets champion Kimiyo Matsuzaki and other Japanese table tennis players on a visit to the People's Republic, April 1961.


Zhou Enlai visits a rural People's Commune in 1958.


Comrade Zhou Enlai talks with commune elders at a rural People's Commune in Hebei province, May 1961.


Comrades Zhou Enlai and Li Xiannian visit the rural communal Dazhai Brigade, Hsiyang County, Shanxi Province, May 1965. First from right is Comrade Chen Yonggui.


Comrade Zhou Enlai enjoying food and drink with workers at the Hantan No. 1 Cotton Mill in Hebei province, 1961


Zhou Enlai inspecting hydraulic coal drilling at the Tangchiachuang Mine at the Kailan Colliery, 1958


Zhou Enlai warmly greets Wang Jinxi, the "Iron Man" of the Daqing Oilfield while receiving representatives of advanced units on the petroleum front, October 1966


Legendary oil worker Jinxi went on to be elected as a member of the presidium and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China at the 9th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 1969.


Mao and Zhou Enlai with Beijing's militia


Comrade Zhou Enlai inspecting a People's Liberation Army ground unit


Comrade Zhou Enlai visits a People's Liberation Army naval unit


Comrade Zhou Enlai and Chairman Mao at a performance of the musical and dance epic The East is Red, October 1964


Comrade Zhou Enlai congratulates members of amateur artist theatrical groups from various nationalities of the People's Republic after a performance


Comrade Zhou Enlai inspects a model of the Miyun Reservoir during its construction in 1959


The remarkable Miyun Reservoir was opened in September, 1960. As Wikipedia states: "The reservoir covers an area of 180 square kilometers, with a reservoir capacity of 4 billion cubic meters and an average depth of 30 meters, making it the largest and only source of drinking-water supply for Beijing, serving over 11 million people.


The Miyun Reservoir is the largest artificial lake in Asia and is billed as the "Pearl in North China"


Premier Zhou Enlai visits an exhibit in March 1963 dedicated to the life of Communist hero Lei Feng after his death, leaving a notable inscription


From Peking Review, 1977:


"A squad leader of the Shenyang Units of the Chinese People's Liberation Army and a Communist Party member, Lei Feng died a martyr at his post on August 15, 1962 at the age of 22. His life was one of persisting in combating and preventing revisionism and continuing the revolution under the dictatorship of the proletariat. In him we find the expression of the noble qualities of the Chinese working class and other Iabouring people and the fine tradition of our Party and army.


When he was alive, Lei Feng had been cited as a model Communist Youth League member and awarded other titles of honour, and was elected a deputy to the people's congress of Fushun city in Liaoning Province. After his death, his heroic deeds circulated widely among the people all over the country.


The inscriptions by Chairman Mao, Premier Zhou and Chairman Zhu De all called on the people to learn from Lei Feng.


Chairman Mao's inscription was: "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng."


Premier Zhou's inscription was: "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng's clear-cut class stand on what to hate and what to love, his revolutionary spirit of fitting his actions to his words, his communist style of working selflessly for the public interest, and his proletarian fighting will that defies personal danger."


Chairman Zhu De's inscription was: "Learn from Comrade Lei Feng and be good fighters of Chairman Mao."


The publication of Chairman Mao's inscription...was immediately followed by a nationwide movement to learn from Lei Feng."


Comrade Zhou Enlai playing ping pong


Comrade Zhou Enlai at work


Comrades Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao together with Young Pioneers when they visited a farm on established for returned overseas Chinese Hainan Island, February 1960


Premier Zhou Enlai offering a toast at the grand reception September 30, 1974 celebrating the 25th anniversary of the formation of the People's Republic of China, October 1, 1949


Comrade Zhou Enlai speaks at a rally during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution


Holding high the Red Banner, Comrade Zhou Enlai leads Party Comrades to work on the Ming Tombs Reservoir construction site, June 1958


Comrade Zhou Enlai works at the Ming Tomb Reservoir construction site in Beijing, June 1958


Comrade Zhou Enlai expressing gratitude at a reception for foreign women experts and workers in the People's Republic on International Women's Day, 1973


Comrade Zhou Enlai listening as the downing and capture of an imperialist spy plane is described, 1965


Comrade Zhou Enlai chats with students from Shanghai doing volunteer construction work on a farm in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, July 1965


Comrade Zhou Enlai singing revolutionary songs with youth from around the People's Republic


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