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Zhu De
Marshal Zhu De
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress

In office
April 1959 – July 1976
Leader Mao Zedong
Preceded by Liu Shaoqi
Succeeded by Ye Jianying
Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China

In office
September 27, 1954 – April 27, 1959
Chairman Mao Zedong
Succeeded by Soong Ching-ling and Dong Biwu
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China

In office
28 September 1956 – 1 August 1966
Chairman Mao Zedong
1st Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

In office
November, 1949 – March, 1955
Succeeded by Dong Biwu
Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army

In office
November 28, 1946 – September 27, 1954
Preceded by post established
Succeeded by post abolished
Member of the
National People's Congress

In office
15 September 1954 – 6 July 1976
Constituency Sichuan At-large
Personal details
Born (1886-12-01)1 December 1886
Yilong County, Sichuan, Qing Dynasty
Died 6 July 1976(1976-07-06) (aged 89)
Beijing, China
Political party Communist Party of China
Spouse(s) Kang Keqing

Zhu De (Wade–Giles: Chu Teh; pronounced [ʈʂú tɤ̌]; 1 December 1886 – 6 July 1976) was a Chinese general, politician, revolutionary, and one of the pioneers of the Chinese Communist Party. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, in 1955 Zhu became one of the Ten Marshals of the People's Liberation Army, of which he is regarded as a principal founder.


Early life

Zhu was born on December 18, 1886 to a poor tenant farmer's family in Hung, a town in Yilong County, a hilly and isolated part of northern Sichuan province.[1] His family relocated to Sichuan during the migration from Hunan province and Guangdong province.[2][3] Despite their poverty, Zhu was sent to a classic private school in 1892. At age nine, Zhu was adopted by his prosperous uncle, whose political influence allowed him to gain access to Yunnan Military Academy later on.[4] Before the repeal of imperial examinations in 1906, he attained the rank of Xiucai, which allowed him to qualify as a civil servant.[5][6] Enrolling in Sichuan high school around 1907, upon graduating in 1908 he returned to Yilong high primary school as a gym instructor. An advocate of modern science and political teaching, rather than the strict classical education afforded by schools, he was dismissed from his post[2] and entered the Yunnan Military Academy in Kunming. There, he joined the Beiyang Army and the Tongmenghui secret political society (the forerunner of Guomindang).[7]

Nationalism and Warlordism

Zhe De on horseback

At the Yunnan Military Academy, Zhu met Cai E (Tsai Ao). He continued to teach at the Academy after his graduation in July 1911. Siding with the revolutionary forces after the Chinese Revolution, he joined Brigadier Cai E in the October 1911 expeditionary force that marched on Qing forces in Sichuan, and served as a regimental commander in the campaign to unseat Yuan Shikai in 1915–16. When Cai became governor of Sichuan after Yuan's death in June 1916, Zhu was made a brigade commander.[8]

Following the death of his mentor Cai E and his own wife, Zhu developed a strong opium habit and fell into a life of decadence. His troops continued to support him and he became a warlord. In 1920, after his troops were driven from Sichuan toward the Tibet border, he returned to Yunnan as a public security commissioner of the provincial government. Around this time, his second wife and child were murdered by rival warlords, which may have contributed to his decision to leave China for study in Europe. He first travelled to Shanghai where he broke his opium habit and reportedly met Dr Sun Yat-sen. He attempted to join the Chinese Communist Party in early 1922, but was rejected due to his former warlord ties.[9]

Converting to Communism

Zhu De in 1916

In late 1922,[10] Zhu went to Europe, studying at Göttingen University in Germany until 1925. Here he met Zhou Enlai and was expelled from Germany for his role in a number of student protests. Around this time he joined the Communist Party of China.[11] Zhou Enlai was one of his sponsors. In July 1925, he traveled to the Soviet Union to study military affairs, returning to China in July 1926 to persuade Sichuan warlord Yang Sen to support the Northern Expedition.[10] His failure to do this did not affect his standing in the Communist Party however, as he was soon named head of a new First United Front military institute in Nanchang.

Zhe De and his forces photographed with Fan Shisheng and his forces

In 1927, following the collapse of the First United Front, KMT authorities ordered Zhu lead a force against Zhou Enlai and Liu Bocheng's Nanchang Uprising.[10] However, having helped orchestrate the uprising, Zhu and his army defected from the Guomindang. The uprising failed to gather support, however, and Zhu was forced to flee Nanchang with his army. Under the false name of Wang Kai, Zhu managed to find shelter for his remaining forces by joining the warlord Fan Shisheng.

'Zhu Mao'

Zhu photographed with Mao and Zhou Enlai

Zhu's close affiliation with Mao Zedong began in 1928 when under the assistance of Chen Yi and Lin Biao, Zhu defected from Fan Shisheng's protection and marched his army of 10,000 men to the Jinggang Mountains. Here Mao had formed a soviet in 1927, and Zhu began building up his army into the Red Army, consolidating and expanding the Soviet areas of control. Zhu's leadership made him a figure of immense prestige. Locals credited him with supernatural abilities. During this time Mao and Zhu became so closely connected that to the local peasant farmers they were known collectively as "Zhu Mao" (homophonic to 猪毛, or pig's pelage).[12]

Cars of Mao and Zhu on display

In 1929, Zhu and Mao were forced to flee Jinggangshan to Ruijin following Guomindang military pressure. Here they formed the Jiangxi Soviet which would eventually grow to cover some 30,000 square kilometers (11,584 square miles) and include some three million people. In 1931, Zhu was appointed leader of the Red Army in Ruijin by the CPC leadership. Zhu successfully led a conventional military force against the Guomindang in the lead up to the Fourth Counter Encirclement Campaign; however he was not able to do the same during the Fifth Counter Encirclement Campaign and the CPC fled. Zhu helped form the 1934 break out that began the Long March.

Red Army leader

Chinese communist Red Army leader Zhu De


Zhu De with David D. Barrett of the Dixie Mission.

During the Long March, Zhu and Zhou Enlai organized some battles. There were few positive effects since the real power was in the hands of Bo Gu and Otto Braun. In the Zunyi Conference, Zhu supported Mao Zedong's criticisms of Bo and Braun. After the Zunyi Conference, Zhu coopered with Mao and Zhou on military affairs. In July 1935, Zhu and Liu Bocheng were with the Fourth Red Army while Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai with the First Red Army. When separation happened, Zhu was forced by Zhang Guotao, the leader of Fourth Red Army, to go south. The Fourth Red Army barely survived the retreat through Sichuan Province. Arriving in Yan'an, Zhu directed the reconstruction of the Red Army under the political guidance of Mao.

During the Second Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War, he held the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Red Army and, in 1940, Zhu devised and organized the Hundred Regiments Offensive. Mao supported this offensive at first. While a successful campaign, Mao attributed it as the main provocation for the devastating Japanese Three Alls Policy later and used it to criticize Peng at the Lushan Conference.

Later life

After 1949 Zhu was named Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Due to this appointment, he is regarded as a principal founder of the PLA. He was also the Vice-Chairman of the Communist Party (1956–1966) and Vice-Chairman of the People's Republic of China (1954–1959). In 1950 Zhu oversaw the PLA during the Korean War. In 1955, he was made a marshal. In 1959, he tried to protect Peng Dehuai in the Lushan Conference. He just gave some mild criticisms of Peng. Mao Zedong wasn't satisfied with Zhu De's behavior. After the conference, Zhu was dismissed from vice chairmen of Central Military Commission.

In April 1969, during the summit of the Cultural Revolution, Zhu was dismissed from his position on the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, and the activity of the National People's Congress was halted. However, due to the support of Zhou Enlai, he was not harmed or imprisoned. In August 1969, Lin Biao issued a command that dispatched important martial figures to distant areas due to the tension between China and Soviet Union, and Zhu De was driven to Guangzhou. In 1973 Zhu was reinstated in the Standing Committee. He continued to be a prominent elder statesman until his death in July 1976. His death came six months after the death of Zhou Enlai, and just two months before the death of Mao Zedong. Zhu was cremated three days after his death. He would have turned 90 years old in December 1976.

See also


  1. [Snow, Edgar: Red Star Over China]
  2. 2.0 2.1 朱德《母亲的回忆》英译
  4. &sig=yVWamsxXIGa2GA2qjktLzKP2ne0&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Mf2tUb6jBIa49gS8rIGgAg&ved=0CGQQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=zhu%20de%20yunnan%20military%20academy&f=false Yunnan Military Academy
  5. Zhu De
  6. Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 2-3.
  7. "The Manchu Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Internal Threats". Countries Quest. Retrieved 26 September 2011.  Tongmenghui
  8. Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 3-4.
  9. Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 4-5.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 William W. Whitson, Huang Chen-hsia, The Chinese High Command: A History of Communist Military Politics, 1927-1971, Praeger Publishers: New York, 1973, p. 30f.
  11. Zhe De in Germany
  12. Bianco, Lucien (1957). Origins of the Chinese Revolution, 1915-1949. Stanford Press. p. 64, note 10. 


  • The Great Road: The Life and Times of Chu Teh by Agnes Smedley, Monthly Review Press, New York and London 1956

External links

Political offices
New title Vice President of the People's Republic of China
Succeeded by
Dong Biwu and Soong Ching-ling
Preceded by
Liu Shaoqi
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Succeeded by
Soong Ching-ling
Preceded by
Dong Biwu
as Acting President of the People's Republic of China
Head of State of the People's Republic of China
(as Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee)

Party political offices
Preceded by
Xiang Ying
Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Soviet Republic
Succeeded by
Mao Zedong
New title Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
Succeeded by
Dong Biwu
Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Served alongside: Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai, Chen Yun, Lin Biao

Succeeded by
Lin Biao
Military offices
New title Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army
Succeeded by
Peng Dehuai
as Minister of National Defense

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