This was listed as a Zhou Enlai (周恩来) quote in my 3-rd grade Chinese book:

Wèile Zhōnghuá zhī juéqǐ ér dúshū
Reading for the rise of China [Google Translate]

Question: How do I parse this quote?

Breaking it apart:

I think I get the general meaning: reading books will lead to China's steep rise. But it's not clear how it pieces together, and thus I may have totally misinterpreted it.

5 Answers 5


[为了 (A) 而 (B)] = [to (B) for (A)]

It is a two parts conjunction that connect A and B


为了[中华之崛起] = For [China's rising to prominence]

而 [读书] = to [read]

为了中华之崛起而读书 = to read for China's rising to prominence

you can omit 'to' in the English sentence and say "read for China's rising to prominence"

you can also omit "而" in the Chinese sentence and say "为了中华之崛起读书".

之 = 的. In this context,

A noun followed by 之/的 make it an adjectival phrase


中华(noun)- China

中华之 (adjectival phrase) - China's / of China

崛起 means rise abruptly; rise to prominence

  • 2
    "studying" might be a more idiomatic translation of 读书 Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 6:16
  • "Studying" is more general. You can study without going to school or read. Consider at the time of the speech, the education level in China was very low. 周恩来 was encouraging people to go get education in school or at least learn from reading books, so that the population's intellectual level would rise. I meant it was unrealistic to hope for having general education for all people in those days. But anyone could read books to improve himself
    – Tang Ho
    Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 6:37
  • Perhaps "educate yourself", then? Saying just "read" in English does not have any implication of bettering oneself. "Read (50 Shades of Gray) to bring about China's rise!" Commented Jun 22, 2019 at 17:52
  • 1
    @StumpyJoePete Might relieve some tension.
    – Mou某
    Commented Jun 23, 2019 at 1:35

You parsed the sentence correctly, and got the correct meaning for most of them.

means 的 (of). And is a conjunction, to connect the two subsentences. It's not necessary but if you want you can take its meaning as and / and then / and yet ... to help understanding.

PS: The google translation is quite straightforward and correct.


Found this here. Hope it is accurate!

1910年夏,12岁的周恩来,跟随伯父到东北奉天,先在铁岭银岗书院读了半年 书,后来,转入奉天关东模范学堂读书.

有一次,老师提出“为什么读书”的问题,要同学们回答. 有的说“为了明礼而读书”, 有的说“为了光宗耀祖而读书”, 还有一个学生说“为了帮助父亲记账而读书”, 弄得哄堂大笑. 当老师问到周恩来时,他站起来响亮而严肃地回答说:


充分表达了少年周恩来要为祖国独立富强而发愤学习的宏 伟志向.


For the betterment of our motherland we study.


为了中华之崛起而读书==为了+(中华+之+崛起)+而+读书 为了....而=for 中华+之+崛起=Chinese's standing up 读书==reading books

  • Please answer the OP's question.
    – zyy
    Commented Jun 28, 2019 at 13:20

It helps to put this quote into context. Zhou Enlai came from Chuzhou, which is today part of Huai'an. Chuzhou was undeveloped and very small at that time.

The lack of development in Chuzhou and all of that area, which is in northern Jiangsu Province, was bitterly felt during the brutal Japanese invasion of the region prior to Pearl Harbor.

That famous quote means:

"Study for the development of China"

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