In January 1965, Premier Zhou Enlai of China sat down for an interview with a reporter from CBS News. This unusual meeting, for the time — speaking without script or limit to an American reporter — took place in a reception room at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.
In 16 minutes, Zhou Enlai demonstrated his mastery of a wide range of topics: industrial and agricultural development; the looming U.S. involvement in Vietnam; the issue of Taiwan and the United Nations; China’s nuclear capability; the Bandung Conference and the Non-Aligned Movement he helped to found; the reason why Westerners often misunderstand China; and much more.
We retrieved the original film from the National Archives and found it old, tired, faded, with noisy edges from a sloppy film transfer. The sound was alternately high or low, and garbled. Not bad for such a vintage film, but it could be better.
We thought it important to have a high-quality version of this historic interview, so we gently equalized the audio, trimmed the edges, restored brightness and contrast, and reduced some noise. We left the film composition exactly as it was, with no edits; including the rough starting and ending film leaders. Restoration can sometimes result in well-intentioned destruction, so we did as little as possible to the essence of the film.
We appreciate Zhou Enlai now as a man well ahead of his time, as an intellectual and diplomat who impressed everyone he met, from Hammarskjold to Kissinger to George Marshall to Earnest Hemingway and Charlie Chaplin. He was a true son of his nation, whose example as a peacemaker is worthy of appreciation by people of all nations, then and now.
He was not perfect, as no man or woman is — he was often his own fiercest critic. He asked that no statues be erected to him, and that his ashes be scattered over the countryside. He lived and died the same as the poorest Chinese worker.
This essential humanity and humility ranks Zhou Enlai as one of a few rare world leaders, among whom such old-fashioned virtues are exceedingly rare. He is highly respected among the Chinese people even today, which reveals something important about them.
This is one of a very small number of informal film recordings in which Zhou Enlai can be heard speaking Chinese for extended times. Our only quarrel with the English voiceover translation is that it is sometimes inaccurate, and strident in tone, which does not match the Premier’s understated tone and style. Perhaps, somewhere, there is an unadulterated original, all in Chinese, with no English voice other than that of the original interviewer.
With great respect, on the 119th Birthday of the first Premier of China, March 5, 2017.
Much more at http://www.zhouenlaipeaceinstitute.org