Zhou Enlai

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All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.

Zhou Enlai (March 5, 1898January 8, 1976), a prominent Chinese Communist leader, was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, from 1949 until his death.


  • All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.
    • As quoted in Saturday Evening Post (27 March 1954); this is a play upon the famous maxim of Clausewitz: "War is the continuation of politics by other means".
  • For us, it is all right if the talks succeed, and it is all right if they fail.
    • On President Richard Nixon’s visit to China (5 October 1971), as quoted in Simpson's Contemporary Quotations (1988) edited by James Beasley Simpson.
  • China is an attractive piece of meat coveted by all … but very tough, and for years no one has been able to bite into it.
    • To the Chinese Communist Party Congress, as quoted in The New York Times (1 September 1973).


Chou En-lai to me appears as the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics… ~ Dag Hammarskjöld
  • The more troops they send to Vietnam, the happier we will be, for we feel that we shall have them in our power, we can have their blood. So if you want to help the Vietnamese you should encourage the Americans to throw more and more soldiers into Vietnam. We want them there. They will be close to China. And they will be in our grasp. They will be so close to us, they will be our hostages. … We are planting the best kind of opium especially for the American soldiers in Vietnam.
    • Reported in Christian Crusade Weekly (March 3, 1974) as having been said be Zhou to Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1965; reported as a likely misattribution in Paul F. Boller, Jr., and John George, They Never Said It: A Book of Fake Quotes, Misquotes, & Misleading Attributions (1989), p. 133.

Quotes about Zhou[edit]

  • It is a little bit humiliating when I have to say that Chou En-lai to me appears as the most superior brain I have so far met in the field of foreign politics... so much more dangerous than you imagine because he is so much better a man than you have ever admitted.
    • Dag Hammarskjöld, in a letter to a friend, as quoted in Hammarskjöld (1972) by Brian Urquhart.
  • Mao dominated any gathering; Zhou suffused it. Mao's passion strove to overwhelm opposition; Zhou's intellect would seek to persuade or outmaneuver it. Mao was sardonic; Zhou penetrating. Mao thought of himself as a philosopher; Zhou saw his role as an administrator or a negotiator. Mao was eager to accelerate history; Zhou was content to exploit its currents.
  • He's the truest friend I've ever had. What's more, he's an exquisite man, full of kindness and sophistication, the most aristocratic aristocrat one can meet. To those who can't understand how I, a non-communist, could be friends with Zhou Enlai, I say: "But he's a prince more princely than I am!"

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