Chinese Women through Chinese Eyes

By Li Yu-Ning | Go to book overview

11
Remembrances of the May Fourth Movement

Teng Ying-ch'ao

THE MOST important woman in Chinese politics today, Teng Ying-ch'ao ( 1903--) has become more prominent since the death of her husband, Chou En-lai ( 1898-1976). Although her name has been inseparable from his, she has demonstrated her own abilities through a long and active political career.

Teng was born in Hsin-yang, Honan Province, where her father was a county magistrate during the late Ch'ing. He died when she was a small child, and she was raised by her mother, who instilled in her the idea that women should strive for independence.

In 1919, when a student at the Chihli First Women's Normal School, Teng threw herself into the May Fourth Movement and organized the Tientsin Association of Women Patriots, which was the most active organization among women students in Tientsin. A forceful speaker with a lively personality, she rapidly became a student leader. In 1924, at the beginning of the revolutionary upsurge that was to last until 1927, she joined both the Kuomintang and the infant Chinese Communist Party. In August 1925, she married Chou En-lai, then deputy director of the Political Department of the Kuomintang's important Whampoa Military Academy and secretary of the CCP's Kwangtung Provincial Committee. Like Chou, Teng was sophisticated and articulate, and she was to show a similar resilience and ability to weather the storms of factional conflicts within the CCP. In 1928 she was

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