New Book Speculates China’s Former Premier to Be Gay

New Book Speculates China’s Former Premier to Be Gay
photo credit: 新世紀出版社
What you need to know

Zhou Enlai, who is titled as the people's premier, had a long marriage of 50 years, but he had no children. Tsoi believes that Zhou had once been in love with a male schoolmate two years his junior named Li Fujing, and he and his wife Deng Yingchao had no romantic relationship. However, Tsoi does not provide any evidence. Her thoughts are merely speculations based on Zhou and Deng's diaries, letters and articles.

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Tsoi Wing-mui, a former editor at a liberal political magazine has released a new book, “The Secret Emotional Life of Zhou Enlai,” saying that the first Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai may have been gay. “Zhou Enlai was a gay politician who had the misfortune of being born 100 years early," Tsoi describes.

Zhou, who is titled as the people’s premier, had a long marriage of 50 years, but he had no children. Tsoi believes that Zhou had once been in love with a male schoolmate two years his junior named Li Fujing, and he and his wife Deng Yingchao had no romantic relationship. However, Tsoi does not provide any evidence. Her thoughts are merely speculations based on Zhou and Deng’s diaries, letters and articles.

Tsoi thinks that Zhou’s sexual orientation would explain several mysteries about his life, including why such a mild-tempered person would devote himself to the Communist revolution and his careful relationship with Mao.

Zhou was famous for being a tight-lipped man, and many speculations about his private life and work have come after his death. However, he did keep a lot of journals during his early life, in which Li Fujing had been an important figure. In Tsoi’s book, she mentions that Zhou wrote in his diary that he could not live one day without Li, the author says in the book, and being with Li can “turn sorrow into joy." Zhou had suffered a lot from being separated with Li after they graduated from middle school.

Lee’s father had funded Zhou to study in Japan. After Zhou’s return to China, he was arrested for participating in the student movement, and went to study in Europe with Li soon after he was released from prison. The two had once lived together in London. Later, Li was accepted to the University of Manchester, but Zhou was unable to afford the high cost of living in Britain. Despondent, he moved to France, Tsoi says.

The New York Times reports, “We don’t know what happened to them when they were in Great Britain,” Bao Pu, the book’s publisher, said in an interview. “It’s impossible for them to be together, and they know it.”

Tsoi notes that homosexuality was seen as a sin against socialism. “They viewed it as a capitalist way of life,” she says. She believes Zhou was afraid of Mao because he was afraid that his secret might be revealed. Therefore, even though Zhou did not stand with Mao’s decisions, he followed Mao’s demands.

Gao Wenqian, a U.S.-based biographer of Zhou, said he was aware of speculation about Zhou’s sexuality, but it was hard to say for certain if it was true. “There’s actually not that much information about it in the records," Gao told Reuters. “There’s no way to be sure."

Translated and compiled by Vic Chiang
Edited by Olivia Yang

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