First Published: Canadian Revolution No. 5, April/May 1976
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Working people of China and the world suffered a great loss with the death of Comrade Chou En-lai in Peking last January. His death is both a source of sadness for the thousands who knew him and the millions who respected him, and an occasion to reflect on the accomplishments of the Chinese Communist Party in which he played such a large role for more than half a century. From 1924, when he led the training of communist cadres at the Whampoa Military Academy, until his death in 1976, Chou was a fearless fighter for the working class and the Chinese people.
Chou’s courage and dedication have often been noted and will be long remembered. It was he who led the organizing in Shanghai which led to the seizure of the city by the workers in a revolutionary uprising in 1927. It was he who worked in Kuomintang-occupied territory to build the united front in the war against Japan. It was he who led the Chinese delegation to the Bandung Conference in 1955, which greatly accelerated the drive by smaller Third-World nations to formal non-alignment with the imperialist states. But to cite these events is to restate the obvious.
The bourgeois press has fallen all over itself in its admiration for its class enemy. Why is this so? Because the contributions of Chou were such that they could not be swept under the table. Rather, the bourgeoisie tried to paint a different portrait of Chou. He was ’different’ from other communists. He was not like the faceless communist organizers. He was a pragmatist involved in power struggles to pursue a moderate course. He was intelligent and witty and urbane. All these things have been said and much more. And the purpose of all this? It is to try to separate the undeniable contributions of Chou En-lai on the one hand, from the struggle of the world’s people for liberation on the other hand.
Chou En-lai was first and foremost a communist – a fighter for the liberation of the people of China and the world. For more than forty years, Chou fought in the two-line struggle under the leadership of Mao Tsetung to defend Marxism-Leninism from the attacks of revisionists, and to defend the proletarian dictatorship from those like Liu Shao-chi and Lin Piao who would overthrow it.
We, in Canadian Revolution, can think of little more significant to say about Chou than the closing lines of the statement of the Chinese Central Committee on his death:
The life of Comrade Chou En-lai was one of glorious fighting for the cause of communism; it was a life of persevering in continuing the revolution. Eternal glory to Comrade Chou En-lai, great proletarian revolutionary of the Chinese people and outstanding Communist fighter!