Zhou Enlai, Wade-Giles transliteration Chou En-lai, was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China. From October 1949 until his death in January 1976, Zhou was China's head of government. Zhou served under Chairman Mao Zedong and helped the Communist Party rise to power, later helping consolidate its control, form its foreign policy, and develop the Chinese economy.
As a diplomat, Zhou served as the Chinese foreign minister from 1949 to 1958. Advocating peaceful coexistence with the West after the 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 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 one of the main driving forces behind the affairs of state during much of the Cultural Revolution.