Source:People’s Daily Online-Chinese Communist Party News Network

Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, these two people are inseparable.

In modern Chinese history, there are often instances where two people say it together. For example, Hong Yang (Hong Xiuquan, Yang Xiuqing) of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Kang Liang (Kang Youwei, Liang Qichao) of the Reform Movement of 1898, Sun Huang (Sun Zhongshan, Huang Xing) during the Revolution of 1911, and”South Chen Bei Li” before and after the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (Chen Duxiu, Chen Duxiu, Li Dazhao) and so on. One of the two people is always the main one, and the other also plays a role that others cannot replace. They are often interdependent and complementary, and work together to advance their careers.

In the first generation of the leadership of the Communist Party of China, although there is no such thing as”Mao Zhou”, the close relationship between the two is obvious to all. Of the two, Mao Zedong certainly played a leading role. Deng Xiaoping said that without Chairman Mao, perhaps we are still groping in the dark. Similarly, without Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai would not be the Zhou Enlai we see today. For Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai was the person he couldn’t live without. This is also true.

Nixon once said:Mao Zedong was the one who made decisions about major issues, and Zhou Enlai was responsible for the implementation. Generally speaking, this is not unreasonable. Mao Zedong really is more in overall planning, grasping the big direction, and making big ideas. Zhou Enlai is more responsible for execution and implementation in a careful and meticulous manner. But this is only relative. Mao Zedong didn’t just think big and didn’t care about specific tasks. On the contrary, he always grasped the key links that he thought was decisive in the overall situation, and he always grasped them to the end to get the results. And Zhou Enlai is by no means a person who can only play an executive role. He is also a strategist, with the ability to make major decisions. Many of Mao Zedong’s major decisions were jointly discussed by Zhou Enlai, and many new or unexpected problems were often encountered in the implementation process, requiring decisive decision-making. Without this ability, it is impossible to be a good performer.

Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai met and worked together in Guangzhou in 1924. They passed away in 1976, more than half a century, a long span, and too many major historical events. The organizer of the seminar asked me to focus on the scope of the discussion in the 1950s. I think it means the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.


The founding of the People’s Republic of China was not a general regime change in Chinese history, but an unprecedented and profound social revolution. There is no book theory or existing experience to copy how to build a new country and a new society. There is an old Chinese saying:”Everything is difficult at the beginning.” If there is any deviation in the beginning, it will have serious consequences, and it will be difficult to correct it in the future.

Mao Zedong began to consider this issue very early. His series of works on”On New Democracy”,”On the Coalition Government”,”The Current Situation and Our Tasks”,”On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship”, and his speech at the Politburo meeting in September 1948, the Second Session of the Seventh Session of the Chinese Communist Party In the report at the Central Plenary Session, the guiding principles of the new democratic politics, economy, and culture were all systematically expounded. On the eve of the founding of New China, for China, a unified multi-ethnic country, it was clearly proposed that a system of ethnic regional autonomy should be implemented instead of a federal state.

During the People’s Political Consultative Conference before the founding of New China, Zhou Enlai assumed the historical responsibility of presiding over the drafting of the”Common Program.” In order to draft the”Common Program”, Zhou Enlai was”closed” in the Qinzheng Hall in Zhongnanhai for about a week. He personally wrote and wrote the full text. After many repeated discussions and revisions, the opinions of all parties were widely absorbed. Finally, it was approved by the plenary meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. . This”Common Program” stipulates the nature of the new China, the basic rights and obligations of the people, the organs of government, the military system, economic policies, cultural and educational policies, ethnic policies, and foreign policies in clear and general language. Full consultation has become the consensus of all parties, people’s organizations, and people from all walks of life, so that the start of New China has rules to follow in all aspects, and it plays the role of a provisional constitution.

As soon as New China was founded, in the state power, Mao Zedong was the chairman of the Central People’s Government and Zhou Enlai was the premier of the Council of Government; in the Communist Party, Mao Zedong was the chairman of the Central Committee, Zhou Enlai was one of the five secretaries, and later the deputy Chairman:In the army, Mao Zedong is the chairman of the Central Military Commission and Zhou Enlai is the vice chairman. In all respects, Mao Zedong is certainly a big idea man. He coordinates the overall situation and concentrates his main efforts on the things he thinks are the most important. Zhou Enlai is the head of the family who manages every day, every aspect of the country’s important affairs must be taken care of. In one sentence from Bo Yibo:Prime Minister, he wants everything from the Prime Minister.

Zhou Enlai has several advantages that others cannot compare. First, he was familiar with all aspects of political, economic, military, cultural, and diplomatic work during decades of extremely rich and complex experience, and he was able to pick it up. Such talents are rare. At the beginning of 1949, Mikoyan of the Soviet Union went to Xibaipo, the seat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and said when talking about the new Chinese government:Don’t you have a ready-made prime minister there?

Secondly, Zhou Enlai’s work style has always been meticulous and thoughtful, he is sensible, stable and reliable, and he is always devoted. Guo Moruo once praised him like this:”I have always been convinced by Zhou Gong. His thorough thinking about things is like mercury, and his agility in dealing with problems is like electric fire and empty space, and he deals with everything with a dedication, as if he never gets tired. He is never tired. He can stay awake for days and nights. You seem to be tired. However, as soon as he comes into contact with work, his whole body and mind will be the same as a clockwork one, and he exerts regular tension in an orderly manner, giving out a harmonious and powerful force. Lulu.” The work he did in a short period of time, others often took a long time to complete. His long working hours and his energetic ability to deal with various complex problems, few people can compare with him.

Thirdly, he has been in charge of the highest leadership body of the Communist Party of China for nearly 50 consecutive years and is very familiar with party cadres. He has worked in the Kuomintang-ruled areas for a long time and has a deep knowledge of non-party democrats and intellectuals. He treats people with sincerity, modesty, generosity, and considers others everywhere, so he can win people’s hearts and unite people from all walks of life to fight for a common cause.

These points are just examples. From here, we can also see why the person Mao Zedong couldn’t live without was Zhou Enlai.

One year after the founding of New China, the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea broke out. When people talk about resisting US aggression and aiding Korea, among the leaders, Mao Zedong will first be thought of, followed by Peng Dehuai; but few people know Zhou Enlai’s contribution and role in this regard.

Of course, Mao Zedong made the decision to resist the US aggression and aid Korea. In the early battles of the war, he also guided very concretely. It was Peng Dehuai who directly commanded the battle ahead. It is natural for people to think of them first.

Where is Zhou Enlai?

Take command of operations as an example, Zhou Enlai was the vice chairman of the Military Commission who was in charge of daily work (Zhu De is getting older, Peng Dehuai is in the front, Liu Shaoqi is not mainly responsible for this aspect of work), Mao Zedong’s chief military officer assistant. This war is different from any war that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army has experienced in the past. How should this kind of battle be fought? Zhou Enlai went to the war room of the General Staff Headquarters every night to listen to reports. He has a good knowledge of the situation on both sides on the battlefield, especially the situation of the Volunteer Army, including the regiment-level units. It is very clear which troop is in which village and which mountain top. The daily report of the Volunteer Army Command requires the Central Committee to instruct. Zhou Enlai is the one who deals with it on the front line, and asks him all about major and minor matters. For major issues, he prepared his opinions before reporting to Mao Zedong for instructions. It was not until Peng Dehuai returned from North Korea in July 1952 that the day-to-day work of the Central Military Commission was replaced by Peng Dehuai.

In the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, logistical support was an extremely prominent issue. Unlike the civil war, hundreds of thousands of troops are on the front lines of North Korea. From the supply of soldiers to the necessary weapons, ammunition, food, clothing, medicine, medical equipment, daily necessities, etc., they are mainly supplied by the Chinese rear, and they cannot have any. Intermittent. At the beginning of the founding of New China, many indispensable conditions were not fully met. What a arduous and arduous task! With things, there is a question of how to transport them to the front. This is even more difficult when the US military controls the air supremacy, continuously bombing, strafing, throwing a large number of time bombs and triangular nails to block the traffic line! Nie Rongzhen said:”The entire logistics work was under the leadership of Comrade Zhou Enlai at the time. Caring. I asked him for advice on almost everything in this regard. He caught it very carefully.”

In July 1951, the Korean armistice negotiations began. The negotiations lasted for two years. It was Li Kenong and Qiao Guanhua who went to the Chinese side to participate in the negotiations. With the emergence of the situation of fighting and talking, Zhou Enlai assumed this dual task. He always works all night long, often dealing with issues on the battlefield in the first half of the night, and dealing with issues in the middle of the night during negotiations. The negotiating delegation sends telegrams every day to report on the day’s negotiations, U.S. trends, foreign journalists’ reports, and the delegation’s opinions. Mao Zedong himself drafted telegrams and gave specific guidance only at the beginning of the negotiation and at some major joints in the negotiation process. A large number of issues were handled directly by Zhou Enlai. For particularly important issues, he put forward his opinions and asked Mao Zedong to decide. When the negotiations entered a tense phase, the delegation had to report to Zhou Enlai by telephone every day before going to bed in the early morning, in addition to written reports. There are more than one hundred telegram manuscripts drafted by Zhou Enlai. These telegrams were all sent to Kim Il Sung, Peng Dehuai, and Li Kenong in the name of Mao Zedong. At the negotiating table, the struggle is very complicated and the situation is ever-changing. The matter is urgent, and the incoming call must be answered in time. Zhou Enlai was able to write thousands of words and thousands of words in one go at an astonishing speed. Mao Zedong read it and sent it out almost without changing a word. What a tacit understanding between the two. Zhou Enlai’s hard work, quick thinking, thoughtful style and excellent negotiation art are all on paper.

In the entire process of resisting US aggression and aid to Korea, Zhou Enlai’s workload was incredible. Besides, he is the prime minister of the Council of State, and a lot of domestic government affairs also need him to handle. In the summer of 1951, he fell ill. Following Mao Zedong’s suggestion and the decision of the Politburo, he went to Dalian to recuperate for more than a month, which was rare in his life.

Just like the formulation of the first five-year plan.

This is the beginning of China’s large-scale economic construction. In the past, there was almost no experience in formulating long-term economic development plans, and the required information was not complete. The difficulties can be imagined.

At that time, under the auspices of Chen Yun, the financial and economic departments worked out preliminary plans for the work during the five-year period. This is an important basis for planning work, but it still lacks an overall consideration.

At the beginning of July 1952, Zhou Enlai wrote to Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi, etc., and proposed:”In July, I intend to focus on studying the Five-Year Plan and diplomatic work.””For the Five-Year Plan, We should focus on comprehensive work so that we can put forward overall opinions to the central government and prepare negotiation materials.” The”negotiation materials” mentioned here refer to the materials negotiated with the Soviet Union. After a month of intense work, Zhou Enlai wrote the”Report on China’s Main Domestic Situation in the Past Three Years” and put forward the guidelines and tasks of the five-year plan. On this basis, he presided over the writing of”China’s Economic Status and the Tasks of Five-Year Construction” in mid-August, which elaborated on the principles and major indicators of the five-year construction. On August 15, Zhou Enlai led a Chinese government delegation (including Chen Yun, Li Fuchun, etc.) to visit the Soviet Union, exchanged views with Stalin and the Central Committee of the CPSU, and discussed related issues requiring assistance from the Soviet Union.

After the five-year construction policy was determined, the specific preparation of the first five-year plan was carried out under the auspices of Chen Yun and Li Fuchun. The first draft of the plan was carefully reviewed and revised by Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, and Li Fuchun in November 1954 in Guangzhou in 20 days. In the second year, it was officially adopted at the Second Session of the First National People’s Congress.

As for some fields, especially diplomatic work, Zhou Enlai is not only the executor, but also the proponent of many important decisions, such as the five principles of peaceful coexistence and the Geneva Conference and Bandung Conference. On the occasion of the decision and so on. These things are familiar to everyone, so I won’t say more.


Of course, between Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, it is impossible to have the same ideas on any issue. In particular, when China began its socialist modernization drive, it was normal for the two to show differences or even differences on some issues. This situation was also more obvious in the 1950s.

In general, Mao Zedong is superior to Zhou Enlai in terms of political vision and strategic vision, as well as the ability to control the overall situation. This is an indisputable fact, and it is also the reason why Zhou Enlai sincerely admired and obeyed Mao Zedong. However, Zhou Enlai’s thoroughness and stability sometimes played an important supplementary role to Mao Zedong. Due to their different positions and jobs, the angle of view and focus of attention between the two of them are sometimes different. There is another point that cannot be ignored:Zhou Enlai lived in Japan, France, Germany and other highly modernized developed countries for a long time in his youth. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, he also spent more time abroad to visit and participate in conferences; and Mao Zedong excepted twice. I have never left China outside of the Soviet Union. A person’s understanding is always affected by his experience to some extent, and this is also a factor that constitutes some differences and even disagreements in their understanding.

Let’s talk about the differences first.

1956 was an important year in China’s socialist modernization drive. This year, the first five-year plan is about to be successfully completed, and many problems have been exposed in the development of the Soviet model. Chinese leaders are considering how to take their own path based on China’s actual conditions. This year, Mao Zedong published the important work”On the Ten Major Relations”, which became the keynote of the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in the same year; Zhou Enlai made the”Report on Intellectual Issues.”

Mao Zedong said in”On Ten Major Relations”:”These ten questions are raised around a basic policy, which is to mobilize all positive factors at home and abroad to serve the cause of socialism.”His focus is on adjusting various relationships, mobilizing all positive factors, and building China into a powerful socialist country.

Zhou Enlai emphasized in the”Report on Intellectual Issues”:”The reason we want to build a socialist economy is, in the final analysis, to meet the ever-increasing material and cultural needs of the entire society to the maximum. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to continuously develop social productivity and continuously improve labor productivity, and it is necessary to continuously increase and improve socialist production on the basis of high technology. Therefore, in the socialist era, more than any previous era It is even more necessary to fully improve production technology, and to fully develop science and use scientific knowledge.” He added in this report:”Modern science and technology are advancing by leaps and bounds.” Change with each passing day”;”I want to talk a little more about science here, not only because science is a decisive factor related to our national defense, economy, and culture, but also because world science has been in the past two to three decades. In China, there have been particularly huge and rapid advances, and these advances have left us far behind the development of science.”

Later, he said in a speech in 1963:”Build our country into The key to a strong socialist country lies in the realization of the modernization of science and technology.”

Compared, it is not difficult to see how the two of them achieve the goal of socialist modernization. While they are consistent in general aspects, they also focus on peace and harmony. There are subtle differences in the emphasis.

But what I’m talking about here are only differences, not differences. Zhou Enlai also emphasized the need to properly handle various relationships and give full play to the enthusiasm and creativity of the masses. Similarly, Mao Zedong also attached importance to the development of science and technology, and raised the issue of technological revolution, and the realization of industrialization was the goal he pursued throughout his life. But he believes that this goal can only be achieved by solving the problem of production relations, so his focus is often on this aspect. On this issue, the two of them have subtle differences in focus, but there is no dispute of disagreement.

The obvious differences are manifested in the anti-adventurous issue from 1956 to 1958.

In early 1956, Mao Zedong proposed”opposing right-wing conservatism” in economic development. On February 8, Zhou Enlai said at a plenary meeting of the State Council:“All departments formulate plans, whether it is a 12-year long-term plan or an annual plan for this year and next. You can’t pour cold water on your enthusiasm, but if the leader’s head is hot, wash it with cold water, and you may be more sober.”

At the Second Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in November of this year, Zhou Enlai said about 1957. According to the report of the National Economic Plan in 2015, “Can the development speed of the long-term planning envisaged in the past be slowed down? After research before and after the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, we feel that it can be slowed down.” “Because we lack experience and knowledge, we are constantly We moved forward in the process of discovering and correcting mistakes. I took a small risk in 1953, and took a big risk this year.” Mao Zedong was obviously not happy. Five days later, he said at the same meeting:”We must protect the enthusiasm of the cadres and the people, and don’t pour cold water on them. We have poured cold water on the issue of socialist transformation of agriculture. Isn’t it also a promotion of retreat? At that time we had a promotion committee. Later we said that we should not pour cold water, so we came to a promotion meeting. The original arrangement was for 18 years, and one promotion was very fast.” But he was more restrained and did not criticize anyone.

In October 1957, Mao Zedong pointedly pointed out at the Third Plenary Session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China:Last year, several things were swept away. Don’t be too fast,”some comrades are calling offensive”; the other two things are the”National Agricultural Development Program” and the Promotion Committee. But he hasn’t called his name yet.

At the Nanning Conference in January 1958, Mao Zedong said from the very beginning:”Don’t mention the term anti-adventurous – this is a political issue.” It was not good at the beginning.” He told Zhou En in public:”Aren’t you anti-adventurous? I’m anti-adventurous.” Zhou Enlai made a review at the meeting. At the Chengdu meeting in March, Mao Zedong again criticized that:anti-advanced advancement is a policy issue. The Nanning meeting discussed this issue. The purpose of the clear discussion is to make everyone have a common language and work well. Zhou Enlai made a review again, and took the initiative to take the responsibility for anti-adventurous progress. At the second meeting of the Eighth National Congress of the Communist Party of China in May, Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun also reviewed the issue of anti-aggressiveness at the meeting.

Why did Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun make a review? This cannot be explained simply by factors such as political pressure. Zhou Enlai and Chen Yun are in charge of the country’s financial and economic work, and they have indeed seen the fact that there is rash progress in their actual work. But at that time, Chinese leaders still lacked experience in large-scale economic construction, and wanted to take a different path from the Soviet Union. How should this road go? Is groping. At that time, people had not experienced the various consequences of the”Great Leap Forward”, and many problems were still not clear. In Zhou Enlai’s own review manuscript, the first article is:The chairman always looks at problems from a strategic point of view, while I often consider problems from a tactical point of view. This should be from his heart, he is trying to figure out the problem. In his opinion, Mao Zedong has a long-term vision. In the past, many historical facts have proved that he always sees deeper and farther than him. Then maybe he is wrong this time. Maybe once the enthusiasm of the masses is fully mobilized, he will really create a command. An unexpected miracle comes, and the deficits and other issues he sees are just temporary tactical issues. His thoughts at the time were understandable.

After this disagreement, Mao and Zhou still maintained a very good cooperative relationship. But the frenzy of the”Great Leap Forward” is inevitable.

The historical phenomenon is complicated. For complex phenomena, simple methods cannot be used to make things clear. Even if only talking about the early days of New China, the relationship between Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai is still a big issue. What I’m talking about here is just a thick line description.

[Author Jin Chongji, Former Executive Deputy Director and Researcher of the Literature Research Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Beijing 100017]

(“Dang’s Literature” authorizes an exclusive release by the Chinese Communist Party News Network, please Do not reprint)