Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976. Zhou served along with Chairman Mao Zedong and was instrumental in the Communist Party's rise to power, and later in consolidating its control, forming foreign policy, and developing the Chinese economy.
A skilled and able diplomat, Zhou served as the Chinese foreign minister from 1949 to 1958. Advocating peaceful coexistence with the West after the stalemated Korean War, he participated in the 1954 Geneva Conference and the 1955 Bandung Conference, and helped orchestrate Richard Nixon's 1972 visit to China. He helped devise policies regarding the bitter disputes with the United States, Taiwan, the Soviet Union, India and Vietnam.
Zhou survived the purges of other top officials during the Cultural Revolution. While Mao dedicated most of his later years to political struggle and ideological work, Zhou was the main driving force behind the affairs of state during much of the Cultural Revolution.