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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Conversations with Zhou Enlai

Zhou Enlai served as Premier of the People's Republic of China from October 1949 until his death in January 1976 and concurrently as the first Foreign Minister from 1949 through 1958. Zhou's involvement and influence on China's foreign policy was immense. This collection features hundreds of conversations that Zhou held with leaders from dozens of countries. See also the Digital Archvie collection: Conversations with Mao Zedong. (Photo: Zhou Enlai is received by Ion Gheorghe Maurer during a visit to Romania in June 1966.)

  • June 23, 1954

    Record of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Pierre Mendès-France

    Mendes-France and Zhou discuss the Indochina issue during their first meeting together. Both men feel they are in agreement with each other regarding several points (establishing a cease-fire before discussing political issues, that no US military bases should be established in Indochina, elections in Cambodia and Laos, cooperation between France and Vietnam and between the two sides in Vietnam). They end on a positive note, both certain that their few differences of opinion will be worked out.

  • June 28, 1954

    Record of the First Meeting between Premier Zhou and Prime Minister U Nu

    Zhou Enlai and U Nu first talked about the decision made on the Geneva Conference regarding the armistice in the Korean Peninsula and the role of the US in it. Then they talked about the elements that complicated the Sino-Burmese relations and the need for building mutual trust and signing a non-political agreement. They also discussed the principles they would have in a joint statement before the signing of this potential agreement.

  • June 29, 1954

    Record of the Second Meeting between Premier Zhou and Prime Minister U Nu

    Zhou Enlai and U Nu first talked about the decision made on the Geneva Conference regarding the armistice in the Korean Peninsula and the role of the US in it. Then they talked about the elements that complicated the Sino-Burmese relations and the need for building mutual trust and signing a non-political agreement. They also discussed the principles they would have in a joint statement before the signing of this potential agreement.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes of Zhou Enlai’s Meeting with Jean Chauvel

    Chauvel presents Zhou with a draft agreement for a cease-fire in Indochina. Chauvel notes that the issue of armed forces limitation should be discussed by the entire conference, and that the draft has been handed out to all the delegations for suggested additions and corrections.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden

    Zhou describes his meeting with Mendes-France and his trip to visit India to Eden. Zhou mentions the Sino-Indian and Sino-Burmese statements, and asks Eden to consider them a binding statement that China has no designs on Indochina, contrary to American suspicions. The two also discuss the upcoming meeting of Mendes-France with Pham Van Dong, and the possibility for progress during this meeting.

  • July 13, 1954

    Minutes, Zhou Enlai's Meeting with Mendès-France (Excerpt)

    The minutes of the meeting between Zhou Enlai and Pierre Mendès-France. The topic of the discussion mostly revolves around the question of the demarcation line in Vietnam and the progress of the Geneva Conference.

  • July 17, 1954

    From the Journal of Vyacheslav Molotov: Memorandum of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong

    Record of a conversation between Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai and North Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Van Dong. Topics included the situation in Indochina in light of the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, and the 1954 Geneva Conference (3 days shy of ending and deciding the political fate of Vietnam).

  • July 17, 1954

    Minutes, Zhou Enlai’s Conversation with Mendes-France (Exerpt)

    Mendes-France and Enlai discuss the Indochina issue during their first meeting together. Both men feel they are in agreement with each other regarding several points (establishing a cease-fire before discussing political issues, that no US military bases should be established in Indochina, elections in Cambodia and Laos, cooperation between France and Vietnam and between the two sides in Vietnam). They end on a positive note, both sure that their few differences of opinion will be worked out.

  • July 17, 1954

    From the Journal of Molotov: Top Secret Memorandum of Conversation with Zhou Enlai and Pham Van Dong

    Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav M. Molotov, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, and Vietnamese Vice-Premier Pham Van Dong discuss various topics relevant to the Geneva Convention, including the construction of foreign military bases in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, the line of demarcation between North and South Vietnam, the establishment of regrouping zones in northeast Laos, the withdrawal of foreign troops from Indochina, and the possible formation of an international supervisory commission.

  • July 17, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Anthony Eden

    Eden assures Zhou that the US has no intention of establishing military bases in Indochina, and that although it has not been suggested that Cambodia and Laos join the Southeast Asian Pact, such an agreement would not threaten China. Zhou expresses concern over the pact, and suggests another model for peace in Indochina. The two debate over these issues.

  • July 18, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Laotian Foreign Minister Phoui Sananikone (Summary)

    Sananikone asks for Zhou's opinion on several problems/issues Laos faces regarding the armistice and unification in Laos. Sananikone also makes clear that Laos does not plan on joining the Southeast Asian Pact, saying there is no need to if the conference can reach an agreement.

  • July 19, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai, Pierre Mendes-France, and Eden

    Zhou, Mendes-France, and Eden discuss regrouping areas and French troops in Laos. The three are close in their opinions, but there are still points of division. Mendes-France agrees to limit the number of French troops, but insists a specified time limit is unreasonable. Mendes-France also insists that some regrouping areas are needed in the south. This last point, the three agree to leave to military experts.

  • July 20, 1954

    Minutes of Conversation between Zhou Enlai and Cambodian Foreign Minister Tep Phan (Summary)

    Zhou Enlai and Tep Phan discuss the Vietnamese proposal for conflict resolution. The Cambodian side discusses issues on which they agree with the Vietnamese (that the Vietnamese will not be discriminated against in Cambodia, that there will be no combatant personnel in Cambodia, etc.) and issues on which they disagree (military issues, Viet Minh withdrawal timetable, etc.). Zhou expresses hope that these issues will be resolved in an upcoming meeting with the Vietnamese, and that he will do what he can to assist in the resolution.

  • July 29, 1954

    Memorandum of Conversation, between Soviet Premier Georgy M. Malenkov and Zhou Enlai

    Soviet Premier Georgy M. Malenkov and Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai discuss the incidents between China and Taiwan, the US’s support of Taiwan, and the US bloc in the South Pacific. They contemplate various means through which China could prevent further provocations by Taiwan and how to break apart the American bloc. Zhou Enlai also offers suggestions concerning the elections in Korea that would help accomplish Soviet goals for the area.

  • October 07, 1954

    Memorandum of Conversation from the Meeting between Premier Zhou Enlai and the Pakistan Women’s Delegation (Excerpts)

    A conversation between Zhou Enlai and a Pakistani women's delegation on Sino-Indian-Pakistani trilateral relations, the Kashmir issue, and China's qualms about Pakistani membership in the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization (SEATO).

  • October 21, 1954

    Talking Points from Premier Zhou Enlai’s Third Meeting with Nehru

    Zhou Enlai and Nehru discuss Sino-Indian relations, as well as China and India's views toward Thailand, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

  • October 26, 1954

    Minutes of the Fourth Meeting between Premier Zhou Enlai and Nehru

    Zhou Enlai and Nehru touch on issues related to Yugoslavia, Pakistan, the Geneva Conference, and Indonesia.

  • November 06, 1954

    Cable from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, ‘Premier Zhou’s Talk with Members of Japan’s Diet’

    Zhou Enlai and Japanese Diet Members discuss Japan's relationship with the United States, the overall trends in Sino-Japanese relations, and some specific issues in Sino-Japanese relations, such as war criminals, fisheries, and communications.

  • January 04, 1955

    Minutes of Conversation between Premier Zhou Enlai and Soviet Ambassador Pavel Yudin regarding Dag Hammarskjold’s Trip to Beijing

    The Soviet ambassador brought to Zhou Enlai a telegram between the United Nations Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld and the UN Assistant Secretary-General. The telegram stated that Hammarskjöld was going to visit Beijing for negotiating the release of the US pilots who had served in the Korean War and been captured by the Chinese.

  • January 22, 1955

    Record of Conversation from Premier Zhou's Reception of the Indonesian Ambassador Arnold Mononutu

    The Indonesian ambassador tells Zhou that the Indonesian government has sent out the letter of invitation inviting China to attend the Asia-African Conference. Indonesia hopes that PRC will send delegation to this conference and that the Chinese premier will visit Indonesia. Zhou Enlai expresses that after the Chinese government receives the official letter of invitation, the government will give official reply.