Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Zhu De (1886–1976)

Chinese military leader, politician, and vice chairman of the People's Republic of China (PRC) during 1954–1959. Born in Yilong, Sichuan Province, on 18 December 1886, Zhu De went to Germany in 1922, studying in Berlin and Göttingen, and joined the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) the same year. He returned to China in 1926 and engaged in covert military activities. His two most innovative contributions were the development of the CCP's Red Army in 1927, which later became the People's Liberation Army (PLA), and the conceptualization of modern guerrilla warfare with its emphasis on control of the countryside. His military leadership and talents ensured the CCP's victories in both the Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945) and the Chinese Civil War (1946–1949). In both struggles, he commanded the CCP's armed forces.

After the birth of the PRC in October 1949, Zhu held a number of top positions, including commander in chief of the PLA, one of the vice chairmen of both the Central People's Government Council and the People's Revolutionary Council, and a member of the Standing Committee of the party's Central Committee. In September 1954 he gave up these posts and became the PRC's sole vice chairman and the first-ranking vice chairman of the National Defense Council, in political importance ranking second only to Chairman Mao Zedong. In 1955, Zhu was named one of the ten marshals of the PLA. Given his advanced age, he became less active in military affairs, participating only in important military conferences.

In foreign relations, however, Zhu became more active. During his tenure, he frequently traveled abroad on inspection tours to Moscow, Eastern Europe, and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, North Korea). In April 1959 he relinquished his two vice chairmanships and served as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, a nominal legislative body. Thereafter he seldom made public appearances until the mid-1960s, when he was persecuted during the ultraleftist Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) simply because of his military background and was perceived as a threat to Mao's leadership. Zhu died in Beijing on 6 July 1976.

Law Yuk-fun


Further Reading
Bamberg, James. British Petroleum and Global Oil, 1950-75: The Challenge to Nationalism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.; Joffe, Ellis. Party and Army: Professionalism and Political Control in the Chinese Officer Corps, 1949–1964. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.
 

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