Zhou Enlai (Dictionary of World Biography: Twentieth Century)
Article abstract: Zhou Enlai was the premier of the new People’s Republic of China from its birth in 1949 until his death in 1976. He thereby guided the new China in solidifying the new order, led in domestic reform toward modernization, and was instrumental in having the new government accepted by the international community during trying times.
Zhou Enlai was born in Huaian, in China’s Jiangsu Province on March 5, 1898. Although the Zhou family was part of the aristocracy, it was in a state of decline. The increasingly impecunious position of the family made Zhou’s childhood most unstable and meandering. Before age one, he was taken by an uncle and aunt as a foster son to be nurtured and reared. His genteel and cultured foster mother was determined to prepare him for the civil service examination, passage of which was the ladder to success in imperial China. By age four, he was able to read; by age ten, he was devouring classical Chinese literature. Yet these days of security would end when his foster mother died. In 1910 and at age twelve, Zhou was dispatched to live with another uncle in the far northeast of China. There he entered elementary school, which continued his learning of Chinese tradition but which also added some of the new learning of mathematics and science.
In 1913, Zhou was enrolled at Nan-kai Middle School in Tientsin. This school, founded only in 1906, emphasized a...
(The entire section is 2491 words.)
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