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Leadership changes Voices from modern China
Inside China's ruling party


Chinese premier Zhou Enlai and visiting US President Richard Nixon, at a banquet in Shanghai, 28 February, 1972 (AP)
Zhou oversaw the normalisation of US relations

Zhou Enlai was one of the most powerful and respected Party leaders among Mao's generation.

The civil war veteran became Mao's premier and foreign minister after the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.

He retained a guiding hand on China's foreign relations for three decades.

He was instrumental in the normalising of ties with the United States, which until then recognised the defeated Nationalists in Taiwan as China's legitimate government.

In 1971, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger travelled secretly to China and met with Zhou. Their talks led to the historic visit to Beijing by US President Richard Nixon in 1972, paving the way for full diplomatic relations.

Zhou retained his influence through all of China's ideological upheavals, including the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, although he was periodically targeted by Red Guards for attempting to shelter its victims.

He died in 1976.


"It is too early to say"
Zhou Enlai, asked for his assessment of the 1789 French Revolution

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