Zhu De

Zhu De
Zhu De
Marshal Zhu De
2nd Chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC
In office
April 1959 – July 1976
Preceded by Liu Shaoqi
Succeeded by Ye Jianying
1st Vice Chairman of the People's Republic of China
In office
September 27, 1954 – April 27, 1959
President 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
Member of the
National People's Congress
In office
15 September 1954 – 6 July 1976
Constituency Sichuan At-large
Personal details
Born 1 December 1886(1886-12-01)
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 (pronounced [tʂú tɤ̌]; 1 December 1886 – 6 July 1976) was a Chinese militarist, 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 the founder.



Early life

Zhu was born to a poor tenant farmer's family in Yilong County, a hilly and isolated part of northern Sichuan province. His father, a Hakka, was born in Guangdong province.[1] His ancestors 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. Before the repeal of imperial examinations in 1906, he attained the rank of Xiucai, which allowed him to qualify as a civil servant.[4][5] 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)

Nationalism and Warlordism

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.[6]

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 apparently 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.[7]

Converting to Communism

In late 1922,[8] 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. 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.[8] 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.

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.[8] 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 De
Chinese 朱德
Zhu Yujie ()
Chinese 朱玉阶

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).[9]

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 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 Zhang Guotao commanded the "western column" of the Red Army, which 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 without Mao's support. While a successful campaign, it has since been attributed as the main provocation for the devastating Japanese Three Alls Policy.

Later life

After 1949 Zhu was named Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (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 1966, during the onset 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 1973 Zhu was reinstated in the Standing Committee.

He continued to be a prominent elder statesman until his death in July 1976.

See also


  1. ^ Gov.cn
  2. ^ a b 朱德《母亲的回忆》英译
  3. ^ Asiawind.com
  4. ^ Zhu De
  5. ^ Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 2-3.
  6. ^ Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 3-4.
  7. ^ Shum Kui-kwong, Zhu-De (Chu Teh), University of Queensland Press (St. Lucia: 1982), p. 4-5.
  8. ^ a b c 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.
  9. ^ 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
New title Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China
Served alongside: Chen Yun, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi, Lin Biao

Succeeded by
Lin Biao

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