Portrait of Zhou Enlai as a Young Man

To commemorate the 110th anniversary of Zhou Enlai’s departure from his hometown to study in the Northeast of China, the Zhou Enlai Memorial Bureau of Huai’an, Jiangsu Province, premiered an inspirational animated short film about the Premier’s youth.

The Shanghai Art Film Studio and  Shanghai Shangying Tutu Film and Television Media produced the nation’s first such program, “Story of Zhou Enlai’s Childhood Reading,” in a national premiere event at the City Experimental Primary School. For the first time, this film tells original stories of Zhou Enlai’s youth on the big screen.

The niece of Zhou Enlai, Zhou Bingde, was one of the technical and historic consultants on the film, which features actual events and dialogue of the parents, teachers, and fellow students of Zhou Enlai. In one of the key stories, the 10-year-old Enlai sparks a change in his private school: to accept young girls as full students for the first time.

Stories of a student:
Young Zhou Enlai

March 5th, 1898

I was born at No.7 Fuma Lane, in Huaian.

My father’s name was Zhou Shaogang

He was loyal, honest and kind

My mother was from the Wan family; smart and virtuous, she could handle anything


Zhou Yigan, my uncle, was very ill when I was less than a year old

To help him recover, my mother voluntarily

sent me, her eldest son, to my uncle to be his heir.

Soon, my godmother died because of overwork when I was 9 years old. 

Shortly after that, my mother also became very sick.

At last, she was gone too, younger than 30.


We returned back to Huaian from Qing Jiangsu

My family was deep in debt

Often some people came by, to collect their debts


Since childhood, I have learned that life is hard

I took care of the family on my own, from age 10 to 12

It was very difficult

In those dark days

Only my uncle, Gong Yinsun, brought me light

And he admired Sun Yat-sen, who enlightened my new ideas


Uncle  —

What is this drawing?


The western powers are like the bear and tiger

Invading and occupying China

The Qing dynasty was weak,  they submitted 

Throwing away the pride of the Chinese people

Da Luan, you are still young

But you need to study hard

Serve and renew our nation, our future.


I left home and went to Northeast China at age 12

If I had not left home, my whole life might achieved nothing   

I studied there for three years

I started to read revolutionary books; this was key to my transformation


Why should we study?

Zhou Enlai, what is your answer?  

Why do we need to study?

Return to the motherland  

Study hard and serve our nation.

Each of us is responsible for her rise or fall

I want to study, so China may rise.

Study for the rise of China.

We sincerely thank our friends and colleagues at the Zhou Enlai National Memorial in Huaian, for their great work in the research and production of this innovative film. We thank them for allowing us to share it with the world.

Here is the complete film.