Created: 9/8/1967

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Chou En-iai and the Cultural Revolution

Special Report



87 SC



Premier Chou En-lai hasey member of the triumvirate that has ruled in Peking sincend his behavior during the period suggests that he is the only reasonable man left at the top of theheap in China. He has reached his key position after decades of savage struggle and subtle compromise Chou has had more experience in the outside world than any other Chinese leader. By temperament moreheoretician, heuave, urbane pragmatist who has proved his competence andin mora thanears of service to Chinese Com-rauni sm.

Throughout che Cultural Revolution, all regime propaganda portrayed Chou as loyally supporting and operating on behalf of Mao Tse-tung and Lin Piao. In fact, however, Chou has persistently worked toextreme policies ordered by his superiors and at times has even seemed to be working at cross-purposes. Although not antirely in step with the Maoists, Chou appears publicly as the icost active member of the leadership and has even taken on iom of theduties of the chief-of-state role. Capable of being all things to all sen, and possessed ofpolitical skill,all those at the top of tho powerthe bast prospect toin authority.

nd Background

Sincehou En-lai has appeared to be [irmlyas the number three man inanking he had held for years. At the eight mass rallies last fall and in allturnouts of tha leadership this year, he has beenranked directly after Mao and his heir apparent, Lin Piao. Chou's prominence derives in large

part from his position at theof China's huge governmant structure and from his role as chiaf spokesman for the regime's policias. As premier, Choupolicies that have bean decided upon in the inner councils of the regime where his voicecarriesight.

Chou's characteristically practical attitude toward problems is logondary. Soviet officials,

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example, have said they would rather deal with Chou than almost any other Chinese leader, because they consider him more flexible and intelligent. He hasan uncanny knack foron the right side of issues and riding out crises. In his ability to survive in the jungle of intraparty politics, he has been likened to Mikoyan. Time and again he has been called on tc undertake delicate negotiations and to rationalize embarrassing policy retreats. While many of his colleagues in Peking arc rigid and often press for extreme measures, Chou almost invariably emerges as the exponent of the possible.

Inside China, Chouuch-admired and popular figure, and he has long been Peking's best salesman with foreigners -In earlier years, many foreign visitors of differing political beliefs came away from Peking much impressed by his intelligence and taken in by his personal charm. His experience in the Western world has givenroader, more cosmopolitanthan that possessed by any other Chinese Communist leader, when he chooses, Chou can be sociable, affable, and informal, and is not abovetiff drink ondisplay of humanity his more woodenwould not dare to permit themselves.

He has always been somewhat of an anomaly in Mao's entourage-He was bornell-to-do east China Mandarin family and

was steeped in the tradition of Confucianism--in contrast to other Chinese Communist leaders, most of whom spring from more humble At the agehouecondary school in Tientsin sponsored by American missionaries and, upon graduation studied in Japan and later in Germany andwhere he also workediner and factory laborer. While in France, he associated with several other men who also rose to the top ranks of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in later years.

Back in China, Chou became involved in patriotic studentwith his futureboth were imprisoned in Tientsin. , durinc the period of the Kuo-mintang (KMT) CP entente, Chou was acting director of thedepartment at whampoa Military Academy, China's West Point. Later he served as aarmy commander. In the, he supported two of Mao's rivals for the leadership of the CCP, not joining Mao's campafter Mao had seized control of the party at the Tsunyiwhich took place early in the course of the Long March. For the remainder of this ordeal, Chou proved his usefulness to Mao and heey role during the period of exile in Yenan.

During the war years Chou handled contacts with thein Chungking and later served as chief negotiator for thein dealing with the KMT and the US.

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eading role in the hard bargaining that eventuallythe Sino-Soviet MutualTreaty. Chou was thafigure on the Chinese aide in the talks that led to thaand Vietnamese settlements.

In all of these negotiations, Chou proved to be tough, careful, and patient. He scored what was probably his biggest international public relations success with his brilliant performance at the Afro-Asian Conference at Bandung Beneath his skillfully projected exterior of reason and

pragmatism, however, Chou isas ruthless as any of his colleagues. This has been amply demonstrated by his survival through three decades of service in his precarious post so near the summit of power in the CCP. Chou has served as China's premier since establishment of the regime9 and was concurrentlyminister

Chou En-lai's Official Status

Chou has for yearsone-crushing schedule ofduties that would tax the energy and Constitution of many


ypical work day runs. until two or three the next morning. These duties include frequent ceremonial appearances, the management of China's huge government machinery in ever-increasing detail,rime public (and doubtlessly role in theRevolution. During the course of the Cultural Revolution, moreover, additionalhas devolved on him almost by default, for he is the only one of the ruling triumvirate with sufficient vigor to engage in the day-to-day direction of thegovernment machinery.

The evident importance of these activities has led someto judge that hisstature is growing, hinese Communist diplomat in Paris is reported to havehinese student there that Chou. not Lin, would be Mao's ultimate heir. This probablyidespread view in the Chinese foreign service, not untinged by wishful thinking. Similar views had been expressed by Chineseoverseas as far back as October. British diplomats in Peking have judged that, despite the persistent attacks on men identified with Chou, the premier was holding onair degree of Confidence, and continuing his efforts to impose order on the social turmoil of the cultural Revolution.

Chou's formal ranking as number three in the rulinghas been reinforced on countless occasions in thetreatment of leadership

gatherings, Ha has appeared at each turnout of the elite inner circle in the last several months, always listed just after Mao and Lin when they are present (the protocol established in, or heading the group in their absence. In recent months when Lin has appeared in public without Mao, Chou has been at his elbow--most recentlyally onuly.

Chou appears to be taking on additional formal functions. When Peking was indicating its support of the Arab nations during the recent Middle East crisis. Premier Chou not only spoke for theand government, but received correspondence from Arab leaders. Onay, Foreign Minister Chen ti received diplomaticfrom six Arab nations and the Palestine Liboration"on behalf of Chougain, during the state visit of Zambia's President Kaunda to Chinaune, Chou appeared to occupy the roles of both chief of government and chief of state, as does Xaunda. He greeted, wined, and dined Kaunda, held summit talks with him, gave speeches on the occasion, and presided at the signingrade agroencnt. Since Peking has made no attempt to provide an alternate stand-in for tho denigrated Liu Shao-chi, foreign diplomat! in Peking have been led to assume that Chou is now acting as Peking's chief of state, adding ona morejob.

As if this were not enough, there have been several reports since January that Chou has taken

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part of the day-to-dayduties of those of his subordinate officials on the State Council who are now in trouble with the inquisitors of theRevolution, ajorspeech onpril, Chou stated that he had assumed direct management of the state offices for foreign affairs, for finance and trade, and for agriculture and forestry, thus filling in for the beleaguered Chen Yi, Li Hsien-nien, and Tan Chen-lin.

Chou's Role in the Cultural Ren

In addition to his full-time formal functions, Chou has been pictured in poster reports as serving as chief* executive off cer for the Cultural Revolution, ordering military actions,revolutionary rebels to ac- cept guidance, setting downand negotiating agreements between contending factions--all this professedly in compliance with the policies of Mao and Lin. In his role of Culturaltrouble shooter, Chou has

personally met numerousfroin the provinces, and several central committeeor directives endorsing or criticizing provincial leaders have been issued in his name,

Chou's policy statements have fairly constantly supported the more rational options, such as the three-way alliances to end dissension and restore order, calls for the reopening of schools this summer to absorb restless youth, and statements concerning

central con-nit tee approval for moderate economic policies toindustrial and agricultural productionBoth his public and private speeches have often been treated as major statements of Cultural Revolution policy.

After the collapse of the provincial party machinery it was Chou's task to try to keep the governmentintact in the largeof provinces where the Maoists were unable to form"revolutionary" Chou's authority inwith the new leaders, mainly local inilitary commanders, was undercut in April, however, when several arrangements he had made were contested by Maoistand overturned by thecommittee. Also, in May and June, radical Maoist leaders such as Kang Sheng, Chen Po-ta/ and Madame Mao for the first time began to be publicly associated with the settlement of someproblems,

Chou remained very active in provincial affairs, however. In April he flew to Canton to endorse leaders of the CantonRegion who had beenby Maoists for supporting "conservative" groups, Asspread in Kwangtung and Hunanin theof the Canton Military Region--Chou personally In late July he orderedh Army to take control of Hunan away from the HunanDistrict, and several times during August Chou issued orders

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Bed Guard groups and localauthorities in the Canton area in unsuccessful attempts to stem tha spread of violence. Chou's most dramaticact in the post-April turmoil was to arrange the release of two high officials who were beingin Wuhan by the localcommander.

Attacks on Chou En-lai

Zn the early months of the Cultural Revolution, Chou and the men working for hio in themachineryleft strictly alone by Maoist leaders and Red Guards, who were then concentrating their fire onin the party apparatus. Soonrucial high-levelin Poking in October, Red Guard groupsajor onslaught against vice premiers and government ministry officials. During late October and early November the Guards broke into government buildings, paraded and manhandled many of-ficials--at least one minister died at theirthe capital with vicious poster attacks on proteges of Chou. Chou himself did nota major target, but theattack on his personal base of powor strongly suggested that he had clashed with Maoistat the October meeting.

Attacks on government, as distinct from party, officials were renewed in the first two weeks of January, but subsided quickly when Chou, seconded by Madame Mao and CulturalGroup head Chen Po-ta, spoke out strongly at Red Guard rallies in defense of the vice premiers under attack; Madame Mao and Chen also used theto praise Chou. Once again, the episode suggested chat Chou had incurred the wrath of the Maoists but had weathered the storm because they were convinced that he was needed to hold the country together. Chou was almost certainly the architect of the moderate policies pursued by the regime in late Januaryeriod when his prestige and authority seemed to begreat.

By March, however, therealized that the Cultural Revolution to which they werewas losing its steam, and they decided to open the throttle wide again, regardless of the cost. This decision, reached at reportedly stormy meetings of the politburo standing committeethe first two weeks of March, was immediately followed by heavy and sustained Red Guard attacks, through posters and rallies, on policies associated primarily with Chou's name, and on men who worked for him.

As in earlier periods, the Maoists avoided launching direct attacks on Chou himself, but the existenceoncealed threat to Chou's position has beenin staunch defenses of him against unidentifiedoster put up by the powerful Peking Aviation Institute Red Guards onarch stated that Chou "is Chairman Mao's closeombarding

Chou En-lai is the some asthe proletarian the same as opposing the revolution." Similarhave often been publicized in major Red Guard newspapars.

A poster ofayore high-powered defense. to this account, Chen Po-ta and three other top Cultural Revolution leaders met with Red Guard representatives and critics of Chou, and told them not to criticize him. Chen Po-ta laid, "Chou is respected abroad as well as ateesponsible person who is carrying out the policies of Chairman Mao and Vica Chairman Lin. Nobody is allowed to find fault with him."

Chou's Defense of His Allies

Chou has repeatedly come to the public defense of his ownwho have been undercriticism for many months, and this has undoubtedlyto the ire of his

Onay, for example, haonference thath Chien-ying was loyal to Mao, and "good for the mosthat he had performed signal for Mao upnd had made mistakes in Szechwan and Tsinghai early this year (when ha reportedly backed tha PLA's suppression of rebelonly because he had beon misled by reports from lower Moreover, Chou openly defended Li Hsien-nien. the finance minister, onune,

as he had done implicitlyeetingpril.

The official for whom Chou has accepted the greatestrisk, however, has been Foreign Minister Chen Yi. According to pamphlets passed out onune by Red Guards at the No. 1Languages Institute, Chou presidedally0 onanuary at which Chen Yiublic self-criticism. Choucharacterized this self-abasement as "exceedinglypparently trying by this means to end the vitriolic publicagainst Chen Yi. Whan it resumed with greater ferocity in March and April, Chou again rose to the defense.

Subsequently, Chou has on three occasions faced down Red Guard "rebels" from the Foreign Language Institute and otherconnected withfollowingmob "invasions" of buildings of the Ministry of Foreign Angrily rebuking the Guards for breaking into theChou refused their demands for tho oustor of Chen and other officials and bluntly told them that they wore "not the politburo. Don't try to pressure me. That is quite unacceptable."

Most recently, according to news posted by rebels in the 7th Ministry of Machine Building, which oversees missile production, Chouroup of rebelsuno andival rebel group from the 7th Ministry for having attacked Nieh Jung-chen,

until recently in over-all charge of advanced weapons development. Chou then took this occasion to extend his protection to all vice chairmen of the Military Affairs Committee, vice premiers, and politburo members by objecting to all poster criticism of this group.

Chou and the Wuhan Incident

New efforts by the Maoists to accelerate the Culturalduring July resultedesture of open defiance ofby the commander of theWuhan Military Region. Chou was deeply involved in thisand complicated

Another drive against the discredited Liu Shao-chi had been launched just before the middle of July. Official broadcaststhat this was necessary because Liu still had "henchmen" in nearly every sector of the army--who must be brought down. At the same time, the Red Guards were given new encouragement to press ahead with their destructivecampaign. In short,at the center and in the provinces who had survivedattacks were confrontedew personalthe midst of spreading disorder and violence which promised tointo ruinous chaos.

The Wuhan commander responded by seizingumiliating two key officials sent out from This was probably intendedesture of protest against tha Cultural Revolution rather than an attempt to raise the flag of rebellion. It was anchallenge of the mostsort, however, and may haveefinitive turning point in the course of China's internal political struggle.

A strong central authoritynited leadership would have reacted by immediately removing the defiant official andublic example of him. Peking did neither. It was more than two weeks before the dismissal of the Wuhan commander was announced and no further punishment for him was publicized. The circumstances suggest that the reason for this failure to deal promptly andwith the situation in Wuhan resulted from pressure brought to bear by other keymilitary leaders.

Chou was apparentlyin obtaining the release of the two detained officials and probablyajor, if not primary, role in negotiationsMaoists and the militaryolution. In this, he was supporting Mao and Lin, but he probably attempted at the same time to maintain ties and influence with those opposing them. The result of thewas ato all parties concorned--which was soon followedew and more violent phase ol the struggle.

jfn^oreign Disv^r

Current Position and Prospects

Chou's toughness, caution, and willingness to use the knife when necessary have served hia well in the vicious infighting that has been part of thaRevolution from tho outset. Throughout this period ofencouraged violenca and disorder, Chou has consistently been the spokesmen for moderation. He has repeatedly defended like-minded adherents and allies within the bureaucracy and military

Chou's ability to appearout of stop with the Cultural Revolution in somewhileosition

close to the top of the political hierarchyeflection bothhis adroitness and of the fact that he is-as close to being the indispensible man as any official in China today. Because he has not been identified with the worst excesses of the Cultural Revolution, Chou is probably the only high-ranking official stillosition to talk with all groups engaged in the current struggle for supremacy. ollapse of central authorityescent into civil war that destroys the Communist regimeChou can be expected to end uposition at or near the top of the political hierarchy that eventually emerges from the current turmoil. I'u fill -

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