This article reflects the personal views of Harsh Thakor
Today,on March 5th on his 117th birthday we dip our blood in memory of revered comrade Zhou En Lai.,one of the greatest revolutionaries the world has witnessed.
It is not a strange coincidence that Comrade Stalin expired on the same date of March 5th.
Zhou En Lai was a an icon amongst world leaders and played a major role in binding the Peoples Republic of China for 27 years .
He was one of the greatest and most progressive statesman of the 20th century who defended the Socialist foreign policy with an Iron hand whether in 1954 at Bandung ,whether with Nehru in 1962,,or whether in the 1960’s in U.S.S.R.
Few Communist leaders ever exhibited such humility and no Communist party leader in China stood in support of Comrade Mao Tse Tung for as long a tenure as Zhou En Lai.
Liu Shao-Chi,Deng Xiaoping, Lin Biao ,Peng De Huai,Chen Boda etc betrayed Mao but Zhou supported Mao with the strength of steel,traversing the most turbulent of waters.
In spite of originating from a mandarin family Zhou lived the simplest of lifestyles and was inspired by ant-imperialist ideals from his school days.
He traversed through the most turbulent of seas or the most hazardous paths in defending his ideas in pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary China. He never hesitated to self-criticize.
Comrade Zhou was brought up in a large family household within which he and his parents constituted only one sub-unit, to ensure collective security for everyone. However, within those boundaries, Zhou suffered some heart breaking losses and rejections, firstly by his natural parents who gave him up when he was only a few months old, then by his adoptive father dying even before he could come to know him, and later at the age of ten, his 2 mothers died in quick succession.
Zhou first came to national prominence during the May Fourth Movement of 1919 when he led a raid on a local government office during the student protests against the humiliating Versailles Treaty. In 1920 Zhou moved to France where he was active among radical Chinese students. In 1921 he became a member of the French Communist Party and spent the next two years travelling in Europe.
Upon his return to China, he served as the chairman of the political department at the Whampoa Military Academy in Guangzhou when it was founded in 1926 (Whampoa's Soviet Comintern sponsors saw this posting as a way to balance Chiang Kai-shek's right-wing nationalism).
After the Northern Expedition began, he worked as a labour agitator. In 1926 he organized a general strike in Shanghai, opening the city to the Kuomintang.
When the Kuomintang broke with the Communists, Zhou managed to escape the white terror. It has been said that he had been captured and released on the orders of Chiang Kai-Shek, to repay a debt from an occasion when Zhou had saved Chiang from violent leftists in Guangzhou. Zhou eventually made his way to the Jiangxi base area and gradually began to shift his loyalty away from the more orthodox, urban-focused branch of the CPC to Mao's new brand of rural revolution, and became one of the prominent members of the CPC. This transition was completed early in the Long March, when in January 1935 Zhou threw his total support to Mao in his power struggle with the 28 Bolsheviks Faction.
In the Yan'an years Zhou was active in promoting a united anti-Japanese front. As a result he played a major role in the Xi'an Incident, helped to secure Chiang Kai-shek's release, and negotiated the Second CPC-KMT United Front, and coining the famous phrase "Chinese should not fight Chinese but a common enemy: the invader". Zhou spent the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) as CPC ambassador to Chiang's wartime government in Chongqing and took part in the failed negotiations following World War II
Zhou was educated in the Dr Zhang Boling's Nankai School with Western help and then went around Japan, France, Belgium, Germany and the Soviet Union. He was active in the May 4th Student meetings. To evade the attention of Chinese opponents he made effective use of the tiny pockets of Western rule on Chinese Soil. During the May4th Student meetings he lodged at his mother-in-laws house in the French concession in Tinajinb in 1919, 8 years later after revolutionary plotting he took refuge in the same French concession. After the historic Nanchang uprising Zhou took refuge in the British flag at Honkong.
ERRORS OF THE PREMIER
No doubt although a great Communist,Zhou En lai made some serious errors during the Cultural Revolution both in internal and external policies. He rehabilitated several capitalist roaders or ex-party cadres like Deng Xiaoping.in 1974.and isolated the Maoist gang of four ‘s group.
He also promoted Sino-U.S.relations when meeting Richard Nixon during the Vietnam war ,placing greater emphasis on combating Soviet Social Imperialism.
An important error was his remaining silent on the U S coup in Chile over Allende in 1973.
Comrade Mao was equally responsible for these mistakes.
In the 1970’s to protect the Chinese state he elevated Deng Xiaoping as premier and did not sufficiently support the leaders of the Cultural revolution called the Gang of Four.
His centrist deviation internally promoted the rightist forces while externally weakened support to the revolutionary struggles in the third world.
Arguably he could not detect the treacherous line of Lin Biao at it’s formative stages like Comrade Mao.
Zhou was also not sufficiently supportive of the policies and line of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution like the strengthening of revolutionary committees and weakening the bureaucracy.
In fact his group in the view of Suniti Kumar Ghosh strengthened the position of the capitalist roaders aginst Mao’s clique.
In pre-revolutionary China he underestimated the might of Chiang Kai Skek at crucial stages in 1927 and in the late 1930’s.
Below I have reproduced an excerpt from the R.C.P.U.S.A.stand in 1978 on premier Zhou En Lai.
Chou’s Development into Revisionist Traitor
This is exactly the overall role that Chou En-lai ended up playing in the 1970s, when the class struggle centered on what stand to take towards the Cultural Revolution and the question of what road China would take was being raised more sharply than ever.
However, this clearly went through a process of development. During the mass movements of the 1950s and ’60s, Mao was able to win Chou’s support at key points–though this was often given begrudgingly since Chou never fundamentally united with the revolutionary thrust of these struggles.
This was primarily because Chou and other bourgeois democrats like him did support some of the transformations which cleared away China’s economic and cultural backwardness, particularly if the victories could later–after the mass movements had subsided–be turned into capital to bolster their power and authority.
In an important pamphlet released in 1975, On Exercising All-Round Dictatorship over the Bourgeoisie, Chang Chun-chiao touched directly on this subject. Referring to “some comrades among us who have joined the Communist Party organizationally but not ideologically,” Chang wrote:
They do approve of the dictatorship of the proletariat at a certain stage and within a certain sphere and are pleased with certain victories of the proletariat, because they will bring them some gains; once they have secured these gains, they feel it’s time to settle down and feather their cosy nests. (Page 18.)
Furthermore, when faced with the rising tide of mass struggle, especially at the beginning stages of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, Chou and others could sense which way the political winds were blowing and had enough sense to jump on for the ride in order to protect their positions. But by the early 1970s, Chou no longer saw this as necessary.
In fact a great opportunity presented itself to “get off the bus”–to make a decisive stand against the forward march of the revolution. The Lin Piao affair, the growing Soviet threat to China and the growing resistance among many Party leaders and cadre to the unprecedented breakthroughs and transformations of the Cultural Revolution all brought out Chou’s longstanding revisionist tendencies and crystallized them into a fully counter-revolutionary line–placing Chou and other veteran Party leaders allied with him directly in opposition to Mao and the proletarian headquarters he led.
In his famous speech at Lushan in 1959, Mao said that Chou En-lai had “wavered” in 1956-57 during the beginning stirrings of the mass upheavals that broke out with full force in the Great Leap Forward in 1958-59. In ideological terms, Mao labeled this “the sad and dismal flatness and pessimism of the bourgeoisie.”
At the same time, Mao noted that Chou was an example of people who were conservative earlier but now “stand firm.” (Chairman Mao Talks to the People, Talks and Letters: 1956-1971, edited by Stuart Schram, p. 138.)
However, only several years later–in the situation of the sudden pull-out of Soviet aid and a string of natural calamities–Chou “wavered” once more, joining forces with the revisionists centered around Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping to reverse many of the revolutionary transformations made during the Great Leap Forward. Chou apparently had a hand in formulating the infamous “70 points” for industry in the early 1960s (which among other things reinstituted bonuses and piece-work, adopted rules and regulations putting profit and industrial “experts” in command, and cut back the time workers spent in political study and struggle).
Mao often pointed out that at the start of the Cultural Revolution the majority of the old guard on the Central Committee disagreed with him, calling his views “outdated.” In fact, Mao later said, “I was the only one to agree with my opinion at times.” While Mao struggled with and eventually won over Chou and many of the other crusty Party officials grouped around him to go along with the Cultural Revolution, he clearly felt it was necessary to pass over most of these people in forming a leading group to carry forward the revolution.
Mao and the revolutionary Left–in which the four proletarian revolutionaries now vilified as the “gang of four” played a leading role–mobilized the masses to strike down the pro-Soviet revisionist headquarters centered around Liu Shao-chi and later the headquarters of Lin Piao and to assert their control and increase their mastery of every sphere of society.
But, at the same time, the veteran Party leaders centered around Chou En-lai tried to narrow the scope of the Cultural Revolution and at times attempted to outright put a stop to it (as they did in early 1967). To a large extent, Chou’s role consisted of guarding against “excesses” and protecting and shielding many of these same conservative Party bureaucrats from mass criticism.
By this time Chou En-lai and other top Party leaders allied with him had concluded that China’s defense and economic construction depended on accommodation and alliance with the Western imperialist countries–a consistent feature of Chou’s thinking since perhaps as far back as 1949 or even further.
Chou’s policies–that of placing modernization above class struggle, putting bourgeois experts and “efficiency” in command, telling the workers and peasants to stay in their place, and like it, and throwing the door open to the exploitation of China by foreign capital in exchange for advanced technology–had much in common with the revisionist lines that came under fire during the first few years of the Cultural Revolution (with the main difference being that Liu Shao-chi, “China’s Khrushchev,” and Lin Piao after him, were advocating capitulation to the Soviet social-imperialists instead of to the imperialist West).
Chou En-lai and others saw that their interests would be best served by the defeat of these Soviet-style revisionists; thus they joined forces with Mao and the revolutionary Left, who saw that Liu and later Lin Piao posed the most immediate danger of usurping power and dragging China back to capitalism.
By the end of 1971, a bourgeois headquarters which increasingly had Chou as its prime sponsor was in an extremely powerful position, due to both the internal and international factors. Lin Piao’s treachery threw many of the achievements of the Cultural Revolution into question, the possibility of a Soviet attack on China had increased considerably, and there were many Party cadre and some sections of the masses who were tiring of the mass struggle.
In the name of opposing Lin Piao, the Right–led by Chou En-lai–argued for rehabilitating the overwhelming majority of cadre knocked down during the Cultural Revolution, including unrepentant capitalist roaders such as Teng Hsiao-ping, with little more than a token self-criticism.
In the name of fending off a Soviet attack, the Right–again led by Chou–jumped on the necessity of making an “opening to the West” to advocate forming a strategic alliance with U.S. imperialism and its bloc and dropping support for revolutionary struggles around the world. (See “Three Worlds Strategy: Apology for Capitulation” in November 1978 Revolution for more on Chou En-lai’s role in developing and implementing this reactionary international line.)
At this point in time, Mao saw the need to rehabilitate many cadre, but only on the basis of the Party maintaining a firm proletarian line, and certainly not on the basis of reversing the correct verdicts of the Cultural Revolution.
Mao apparently agreed to bring back Teng Hsiao-ping because of the need to consolidate things after the Lin Piao affair, but Mao insisted Teng make a self-criticism and pledge to support the Cultural Revolution–which could be and later was used against him when he jumped out again. Mao also saw the need to make certain agreements and compromises with the West to deal with the growing Soviet threat to China. However, Mao was agreeing to some of Chou’s policies with completely different objectives in mind, as was to become clear later.
According to the Right it was now time to restore order, cut out all these mass political movements, and get back down to what really counts–the task of building China into a great modern country. The Cultural Revolution not only had to be declared over, but the many revolutionary transformations that it brought about–including revolutionary committees in factories to replace one-man management, the settling of educated youth in the countryside, and open-door scientific research–had to be attacked and reversed. Though Teng Hsiao-ping served as the Right’s open hatchet man, the current rulers give Chou full credit for spearheading a move to restore the old educational policies criticized during the Cultural Revolution, particularly calling for “raising standards” and for the enrollment of part of the college students directly from “talented” senior middle school graduates.
Mao undoubtedly struggled with Chou to reverse his reactionary line right up until Chou died in January 1976–particularly because Mao recognized that Chou had a powerful social base among Party cadres, intellectuals and sections of the masses, and Mao recognized the necessity of winning over as much of those as possible. However, Mao harbored no illusions about Chou and what he was up to.
Immediately after the Tenth Party Congress in late 1973, Mao, allied closely with the Four, opened up fire directly on the rightist headquarters led by Chou and most aggressively championed by Teng Hsiao-ping. This life-and-death struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie intensified right up to October 1976, when the Right took advantage of Mao’s death and mustered their forces to pull off a counterrevolutionary coup d’etat.
In each of the campaigns initiated by Mao–from Criticize Lin Piao and Confucius in 1973, Study the Theory of the Dictatorship of the Proletariat and Combat and Prevent Revisionism, Criticize Water Margin, to Criticize Teng and Beat Back the Right Deviationist Wind in 1976–Mao and the Four were in various forms attacking Chou’s counter-revolutionary political line and all but explicitly attacked him in name. This was particularly true of the Lin Piao/Confucius and the Water Margin campaigns, which indirectly targeted Teng, and Chou behind him, as modern-day Confucianists and renegades who were intent on opposing the revolution, restoring capitalism and capitulating to imperialism.
(See The Loss in China and the Revolutionary Legacy of Mao Tsetung, an important speech by Bob Avakian, Chairman of the Central Committee of the RCP, pp. 61-93, for a more thorough analysis of this period.)
In these final years, Chou was acting behind the scenes, using his considerable bureaucratic powers to place leading Rightists in important Party and government posts, and unleashing a social base for capitalist restoration under the signboard of “modernization.” Mao, just as typically, was initiating mass campaigns to criticize the capitalist roaders and get at the roots of revisionism; he threw his support squarely behind further socialist transformation, particularly the “socialist new things” brought about through the Cultural Revolution and he treid every possible means to politically arm and mobilize the masses to guard against revisionism, take the road of revolution and keep their sights set on the lofty goal of communism.
Thus, Mao Tse tung and Chou En-lai–and the proletarian and bourgeois headquarters they represented–ended up in fundamental and total opposition to each other. Even two decades earlier, as shown by an analysis of their differing speeches in 1949 and 1956, their world outlooks differed radically. As Mao pointed out in the last years of his life, with the advance and deepening of the socialist revolution, it was an objective law that “ghosts and demons”–especially top Party leaders such as Chou En-lai and his revisionist predecessors like Liu and Lin–would jump out every few years for a trial of strength with the proletariat.
RCP’s Line on Chou
It is only within the last year that our Party has correctly summed up the actual role played by Chou En-lai in the Chinese revolution. In January 1976, just after Chou’s death, Revolution carried an article calling Chou a revolutionary and a communist all his life. Though the Party followed the line struggle in China closely, and placed its support squarely behind the revolutionary line, we did not understand thoroughly the role that many individuals, including Chou En-lai, were playing at that time. This was also compounded by the influence of the revisionist Jarvis/Bergman headquarters in the RCP, who shared the revisionist line of the current rulers and who all along looked to Chou as their idea of a “model communist.”
Through the decisive defeat of these revisionists in our Party in late 1977, the RCP reached correct conclusions about the class nature of the current Chinese rulers, as well as about Chou’s role–which has been revealed all the more clearly by the Chinese revisionists themselves in the last year, with more certainly to come.
Therefore we obviously have to repudiate the position we took on Chou En-lai in 1976. Instead of being “a communist all his life,” Chou was in fact a bourgeois democrat all his life, who ended up commanding, and then in death became the rallying point for, the counter-revolutionary forces that have re-imposed the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie on the Chinese people and are now dragging China back to the living hell of capitalism.
The full glory of Chou En-lai’s line is now being displayed in China, enshrined in the “four modernizations” and the “three worlds” strategy of capitulating to imperialism. This is truly a fitting conclusion to Chou’s life, for he will go down in history as a bitter enemy of the proletariat and a leading representative of the Chinese bourgeoisie who tried to turn back the forward march of the international working class towards communism.
My reply to R.C.P’s statement
Internationally Communists should condemn this position as it condemns premier Zhou to be a bourgeois democrat and not a proletarian revolutionary.
It’s analysis is baseless on Zhou’s role in the New Democratic and Socialist Revolution earlier.
It fails to objectively assess different characters within a Socialist Society and how ideological perspectives evolve just as that of premier Zhou.
In fact this was the serious error of Mao’s gang of 4,particularly Chiang Ching who wrongly accused some sections as ‘capitalist roaders’.
We must remember how Mao rebuked the gang,particularly his wife for factionalism and splittism.
The R.C.P.fails to understand that even if a comrade possesses certain weaknesses in poltical line he can still be a revolutionary communist.
In fact there has been a tendency in the International Communist movement to slander genuine Communist revolutionaries and renegades just as what Charu Mazumdar dubbed comrades, D.V.Rao,T.Nagi Redy and C.P.Reddy in India.
The R.C.P stand goes against the concept of the unity of the broadest forces propagated by Mao Tse Tung.
It is this very ecclectism that stands against the mass line.
A separate study has to be done on the phenomena of why the gang of 4 was antagonistic to premier Zhou En Lai and why differences occur in the political character of members within a proletarian party itself.
The R.C.P.,U.S.A ‘s claim that Zhou only verbally preached Mao’s line in 1973 and 1975 but actually stood for capitalist restoration.
They distort history forgetting the overt support premier Zhou gave to Mao in the New Democratic Revolution, Socialist Revolution, hundred flowers campaign,Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
It is not possible that a bourgeois democrat could provide the tacit support Zhou did to Mao in all these important events.
He possessed that unique communist quality of humility and anti-careerism by rejecting important positions in the party.
Let us also never forget his role in the Long March,anti -Japan war in 1943 etc. Zhou’s political greatness can be judged by the switches he made in his political thinking and practice at crucial stages of the Chinese revolution.
Zhou exhibited 2 brilliant political choices by rejecting Wang Ming during the rectification campaign in 1943-45 and earlier backing Mao against Zhang Kuo Ta in the long march.
Earlier Zhou had backed Li Li San in 1930 and Wang Ming in 1931.
At Tsunyi in 1935 he made a dramatic twist from being Mao’s critique and superior to becoming his ardent servant and supporter.
He was humbly critical of his earlier pro Li Li San urban insurrectionist line. This virtue of humility stood by Zhou till his death. Who can forget Zhou’s fortitude in defending Mao’s stand in the Great Debate and defending Stalin against Khruschev in U.S.S.R.in the late 1950’s..
Zhou proclaimed the Cultural Revolution in 1966 and played an important role in checking the excessive attacks of the Red Guards and asserting a greater role for civilians to play as against Lin Biao’s militarist policies.
Zhou stood as a boulder against Liu Shao Chi and Lin Biao.
Zhou assisted Mao in combating Lin Biao’s policies which believed in only strengthening the role of the Peoples Liberation Army.
In 1973 it was Zhou who read out the C.C.P. 10th Congress report and in 1975 and the report of the 5th National Peoples Congress of the C.C.P.
In both these conferences Marxism-Leninism-Mao Tse Tung Thought was defended tooth and nail.Premier Zhou stood by Mao in the most testing of times.
Sadly even comrades of the gang of four rebuked premier Zhou after 1973 and made him the main target in the anti-confucius and anti-Lin Biao campaign, Although they played a great revolutionary role they could not correctly demarcate from the allies and the bourgeoisie.
This reflected the gang of four’s left-sectarian tendencies.
Premier Zhou played an important role in isolating Lin Biao’s policies.
Chiang Ching was particularly hard on premier Zhou and at times even Mao tried to counter the ‘left’ trend.
It is difficult to visualise being in the place of Premier Zhou who had to administer a struggle in a Socialist Society,above everything.
The fall of Lin Biao in 1971 had done untold damage and the Chinese state could hardly fill the posts.
In spite of all the complications Zhou morally defended Mao till his death bed.
It was tragic that at his funeral the gang prevented the people from actively commemorating it and tried to thwart demonstrations or public.
Bob Avakian and the R.C.P. U.S.A. distort history by claiming that Mao never paid a moral tribute to Zhou or did not admire his great contribution.
The complexity of the situation prevailing prevented Mao for making a public stand on Zhou En Lai. or openly holding a commemoration meeting.
It was Mao who often rebuked the gang for splittism and left sectarianism.
The peoples rally at Tianmen square in 1976 is a testimony to the popularity premier Zhou enjoyed.
What is remarkable is that Zhou never promoted his personality cult. or eulogized his personal writings in his time.
Zhou also gave important advice to comrades from other countries like to Souren Bose of India in 1970.He never indulged in big-brotherly treatment of comrades from other countries.
He exhibited utmost humility when redressing contingents of comrades from other countries. Internationally it was the premier who lit China’s red torch.
What is significant is that Zhou never had a formal clique of his own.
Although displaying the utmost loyalty to Mao he never indulged in flattery like Lin Biao.
Zhou never hesitated to make constructive self –criticism from the pre-revolution days in the Long March.
We have to be sympathetic to the pressure premier Zhou faced when confronted with the tyranny of the twin threat of American Imperialism with Soviet Social Imperialism. and the factionalism prevailing internally after Lin Biao’s treachery which threw China into a state of chaos.
Ultimately we have to throw light on the fact that it was a 2 line struggle within a Socialist Society and analyse the trend of confrontation of the gang of four with Premier Zhou in that light.
Overall we must complement Zhou for respecting Comrade Mao’s ideology and playing the role of a backbone and an architect..
The contradictions of Zhou with Mao are not antagonistic in nature .and reflected the complexities of a struggle within a Socialist Society itself.
The author spoke to comrades like Varavara Rao of the Revolutionary Writers Association or Comrade Sinha of the Rahul Foundation India who felt it was an aberration to term Zhou as a capitalist roader.
Earlier even late Comrade Harbhajan Sohi upheld Zhou as a very great revolutionary. Zhou committed centrist deviations or aberrations but could not be termed a capitalist –roader in their view.
The R.C.P.U.S.A just could not differentiate the bourgeoisie from true revolutionaries in 1978 when they denounced premier Zhou.Zhou he could never be bracketed with Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shao Chi and Lin Biao.
Today several bourgeois writers praise Zhou for combating Mao’s policies in the Cultural Revolution and laying the ground for the 4 modernizations as laid down by Deng Xiapoing.
The post 1978 C.C.P.distorted Zhou’s role by propagating that Zhou opposed the Cultural Revolution, tooth and nail.
I recommend readers to read Zhou En Lai’s report to the 10th Congress in 1973 and the 5th National peoples Congress in 1975.It is also worth reading Dick Wilson’s book on Zhou En Lai.
Below I would like to quote some bourgeois writers or enemies of the Cultural Revolution who depict how much Zhou stood by Mao and his revolutionary policies.
The Role of Zhou Enlai in the Cultural Revolution:A Contradictory Image from Diverse Sources*
Issues &Studies 37,no.2(March/April 2001):1-28
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)has worked hard of late to create a larger-than-life and infallible image of Zhou Enlai’s role in the Cultural Revolution through the use of massive, inaccurate data in numerous official publications.
At the same time, the CCP also keeps thousands of archives of Zhou’s activities in the Cultural Revolution as “top state secrets.” Based on newly published materials including memoirs, interviews with participants of the Cultural Revolution, and many party leader speeches both reprinted in the West as well as delivered to the “masses”in China during the Cultural Revolution,this paper strongly challenges the perfect image of Zhou that exists in these official publications in China.
According to author’s textual examination, Zhou was the one who served as Mao’s enthusiastic helper and strong supporter for launching the cataclysm.
Zhou was the one who cooperated with the so-called “arch-criminals”of the Cultural Revolution—Lin Biao and the “Gang of Four”—on many occasions.
Zhou tried his best to follow Mao closely by supporting the chaotic mass movements of the period.
Relationship to the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing Cliques
Sine the end of the Cultural Revolution,the Chinese government has stressed how Zhou fought with the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counterrevolutionary cliques for the benefit of the people and the nation.In the conclusion of the CCP's official document in 1980,“Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China”(關於建國以來黨的若干歷史問題的決議hereafter “Resolution on Certain Questions”),Zhou was praised because “he made unremitting efforts to protect a great number of cadres inside and outside the party and minimize damages from the Cultural Revolution.
He confronted the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing counterrevolutionary cliques in a variety of ways about the destruction they had brought about.”Since 1998,the exaggeration of Zhou’s "fighting"with the Lin and Jiang cliques has gone much further than the praise above.
First,party historians made up stories of the so-called "infighting" between Zhou and the Lin-Jiang cliques.
Second, these historians shifted surreptitiously the power struggle between Zhou and the Lin-Jiang cliques after 1970 into the early years of the red terror to highlight Zhou’s "long-lasting struggle” with Lin Biao and Jiang Qing.
Finally, official historians simply left out a number of deeds that Zhou committed together with the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing cliques in order to hide the historic truth or lead unwary readers astray by selective omission of detail.
Since the CCP’s “Resolution on Certain Questions”pinned the criminal responsibility of the historical turbulence on Lin Biao and the “Gang of Four”(四人幫)only,necessary is to carefully examine the relationship between Zhou and these actors during this period.
As an interesting example,one significant early account of "infighting"between Zhou and Lin was recorded in A Chronicle of Zhou Enlai 1949-76:
July 26.In the CCP's Enlarged Meeting of the Politburo,[Zhou]said,I had discussed with Chairman Mao and also exchanged opinions with Lin Biao about the use of terms such as “peak,”“the highest and most flexible,”and “the highest instructions”[for describing Mao Zedong Thought]from Lin Biao.The use of words should be as scientific,accurate,and proper as possible.#
From the above quotation, two things stand out.All along, Zhou opposed these terms for the establishment of Mao's personality cult,and he did criticize Lin Biao for doing that at the outset of the Cultural Revolution.
On the other hand, a number of historical records depicted a totally contradictory image of Zhou.
In the Cultural Revolution, both prior to and after July 26,1966, Zhou flattered Mao and extolled Mao Zedong Thought by using the same anti scientific, inaccurate,and improper terms.
A case in point was the synopsis of Zhou's aforementioned speech at the Enlarged Meeting of the Politburo on May 21,1966.
Another even more significant illustration is Zhou's welcome speech to the delegation of the Albanian Communist Party and Government on April 30,1966,which was also printed in the People's Daily:“Comrade Mao Zedong has completely developed Marxism-Leninism with genius and creativity.
Mao Zedong Thought is Marxism-Leninism in the era when imperialism starts to fail and socialism advances toward victory in the entire world.”Zhou went on to say,“Mao Zedong Thought is the peak of contemporary Marxism-Leninism.”
The textual reexamination of the diverse sources leads one to assume that the account in China's official publications is false or inaccurate. While entirely possible is that the official account was integrally made up by the official historians for propaganda purposes, there still exists yet another possibility.
On July 8,1966,Mao wrote a letter to Jiang Qing who circulated it to Zhou and other central leaders.
In this letter,Mao seemed to mildly criticize the ongoing adulation of him by Lin and others, but Mao’s criticism was only an act.
Both Zhou,as a major adulator of Mao,and Lin Biao must put on an act when presenting their mild self-criticism under Mao's instruction.This matter may be the basis of this early “infighting”story,although the event was far from being a "fight"between justice [embodied by Zhou]and evil [Lin].
Since Mao,Lin,and Zhou all behaved in an affected manner in this matter,understandable is that Zhou and Lin continued to flatter Mao by using the same terms just a few days after their self-criticism.
In stark contrast to the depiction of Zhou's so-called “long-lasting fight”with Lin Biao,a great many documents show that Zhou actually flattered Lin in the same manner he flattered Mao.In his speech at the Enlarged Meeting of the Politburo on May 21,1966,Zhou said:"Comrade Lin Biao is the one who promotes Mao Zedong Thought the soonest;holds it the highest;elaborates it most abundantly;applies it in the most flexible ways and has the most success.”At a mass rally of over one hundred thousand people in Beijing Workers Stadium on March 27,1968, Zhou Enlai was the one who,as the first person among all the CCP central leaders in such a huge mass assembly,shouted the slogan of “I wish Vice-Chairman Lin,the closest comrade-in-arms of our great leader,the best of health;the best of health forever,and the best of health forever!”Zhou’s speech at the CCP’s Ninth National Congress on April 14,1969was full of flattering words to Lin Biao as well.Zhou stated,“
Comrade Lin Biao is Comrade Mao Zedong’s close comrade-in-arms and successor.This is the most correct conclusion that results naturally from Comrade Lin Biao’s more than forty years of revolutionary struggle.It is totally in accordance with the facts.”Zhou continued with adulating expressions for Lin that he had not used before:
[Lin]has won the enthusiastic support of the whole Party,the whole army,and the revolutionary people of different nationalities in China,and he has also been given the backing of the broad revolutionaries of the whole world.
Not only do we feel boundless joy because we have as our great leader the greatest Marxist-Leninist of our era,Chairman Mao,but we also feel great joy because we have Vice-Chairman Lin as Chairman Mao’s universally recognized successor.
In analysing “a long-lasting fight”between Zhou and Jiang Qing's clique,one simple but essential historical fact should not be overlooked: the so-called “Gang of Four”was indeed the “Gang of Five,”namely,Mao was the true leader behind the clique .
Based on Zhou's servility and subservience to any superiors,one cannot imagine that Zhou could have been in any serious conflicts with Mao. Likewise, Zhou was never in any serious conflicts with Jiang and the Central Cultural Revolution Group in the turbulent decade ,especially during the most chaotic period of the Cultural Revolution (1966-71).
Only words of boasting and mutual protection could be heard between Zhou and Jiang’s clique.
Aside from much flattery of the Central Cultural Revolution Group members by Zhou,there was another important illustration of Zhou's performance in the rally at Beijing Workers Stadium on March 27,1968 that shows how Zhou flattered Jiang and how CCP official historians have today covered up Zhou's dark side.
In the middle of Jiang Qing's remarks on some rivals’plot to kill her, Zhou suddenly shouted "Defend Comrade Jiang Qing with Our Lives!”
In his speech following the one where he shouted two usual slogans of "Defend Chairman Mao with Our Lives”and “Defend Vice-Chairman Lin with Our Lives,”Zhou shouted the same unusual slogan for Jiang Qing again. Zhou's shouting actually promoted Jiang up to the number three figure in China, when Jiang was only the deputy head of the Central Cultural Revolution Group.
Only one year later ,according to newly released CCP documents, Zhou officially nominated Jiang as a member of the Politburo Standing Committee at the Party’s Ninth National Congress.