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Chen Yi
Vice Premier of the People's Republic of China
In office
September 1954 – January 1972
PremierZhou Enlai
2nd Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
11 February 1958 – 6 January 1972
PremierZhou Enlai
DeputyLuo Guibo
Preceded byZhou Enlai
Succeeded byJi Pengfei
Communist Party Secretary of Shanghai
In office
Preceded byRao Shushi
Succeeded byKe Qingshi
8th Mayor of Shanghai
In office
May 1949 – November 1958
Preceded byZhao Zukang
Succeeded byKe Qingshi
1st President of the China Foreign Affairs University
In office
Preceded bynone
Succeeded byLiu Chun
Closed until 1980
Personal details
Chen Shijun (陈世俊)

(1901-08-26)26 August 1901
Lezhi County, Sichuan Province, Qing Empire
Died6 January 1972(1972-01-06) (aged 70)
Beijing, People's Republic of China
Xiao Juying (萧菊英)
(m. 1930; died 1932)
Lai Yueming (赖月明)
(m. 1932)
(later separated due to war, each believing the other deceased. She later remarried.)
Zhang Qian (张茜)
(m. 1940)
RelationsWang Guangya
ChildrenChen Haosu, Chen Xiaolu
Nickname(s)元帅诗人 (yuán shuài shī rén, "The poet marshal")
陈老总 (Chén lǎozǒng, "Old Chief Chen")
501 (military call sign)
Military service
Allegiance People's Republic of China
Branch/service People's Liberation Army Ground Force
Years of service1927–1972
RankMarshal of People's Republic of China
  • Commander, PLA Eastern China Field Army
  • Deputy Commander, PLA Central China Field Army

Chen Yi (Chinese: 陈毅; pinyin: Chén Yì; Wade–Giles: Chen I; August 26, 1901 – January 6, 1972) was a Chinese communist military commander and politician. He served as Mayor of Shanghai from 1949 to 1958 and as Foreign Minister of China from 1958 to 1972.

Early life

Chen was born in Lezhi County near Chengdu, Sichuan, into a moderately wealthy magistrate's family.

Jakob Rosenfeld (center), Liu Shaoqi (left), and Chen Yi (right)
Bust of Chen Yi in China Foreign Affairs University campus.


A comrade of Lin Biao from their guerrilla days, he was prominent in the Jiangxi Soviet. Later, due to a leg injury, he was the only one of the later Ten Marshals to have not participated in the Long March. Thus, Chen was later made a commander under Ye Ting in the New Fourth Army. After the Wannan Incident, Chen succeeded Ye Ting as commander of the New Fourth Army during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). He played a pivotal role as commander of the 3rd Field Army working closely with his close friend and comrade Su Yu. When Su Yu showed his expertise and talent in large formational warfare, the division of labour between them meant that Chen Yi remained in command of 3rd Field Army, but mainly focused on rallying support for Su Yu's plans as well as focusing on political work, which was his area of expertise. Thus, he and Su Yu spearheaded the Shandong counter-offensive during the Chinese Civil War, and later commanded the Communist armies that defeated the KMT forces during the Huaihai Campaign and conquered the lower Yangtze region in 1948–49. After the capture of Shanghai, he remained in Shanghai as Mayor where he oversaw the economic stabilisation and reconstruction. In 1950, he offered to take command of the People's Volunteer Army in Korea, but Mao declined, possibly because Chen's partner Su Yu was in poor health due to shrapnel injury and selected Peng Dehuai instead. He was promoted to marshal in 1955.

People's Republic

After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Chen became mayor of Shanghai. He also served as vice premier from 1954 to 1972 and foreign minister from 1958 to 1972 and president of the China Foreign Affairs University from 1961 to 1969. As vice premier, he was present during the breakup of Sino-Soviet relations. In August 1960, Chen Yi attempted to ease tensions with the Soviets, declaring on one instance to the Soviet Ambassador to Beijing that Moscow should stop "severing the friendship between the two nations," and two weeks later to the Soviet deputy foreign minister that Moscow and Beijing should both try to save the alliance.[2]

Like other Chinese policymakers, Chen viewed the July 1963 Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty as demonstrating a US-USSR re-alignment against China.[3]: 96–97  Chen described it was "targeted against us."[3]: 96 

During the Cultural Revolution, Chen was one of the most vocal leaders in the February Countercurrent, which criticized the Cultural Revolution for creating social disorder and undermining China's leadership.[4]: 154  As a result, he was required to request a leave of absence and undertake self-criticism,[4]: 154  but he was never dismissed, so Zhou Enlai performed the duties of foreign minister in his place.

He was a member of the 8th CPC Politburo from 1956 to 1967 but was not admitted to the 9th Politburo (1969), though he was a member of the 9th CPC Central Committee.

After Marshal Lin Biao's death in 1971, he was restored to favour, although not to his former power. Mao Zedong attended Chen's funeral in 1972.[5] This was Mao's last public appearance and his first appearance at anyone's funeral during the Cultural Revolution.

Other work

When not in military uniform, Chen Yi was known for his trademark sunglasses and white shirt. He was an avid Weiqi player and was prominent in promoting the game to a professional level in the People's Republic of China.

See also


  1. ^ maokaikai, ed. (7 January 2016). "陈毅的子女后代 陈毅有几位妻子" [The descendants of Chen Yi. How many wives did Chen Yi have?]. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. Retrieved 9 February 2017.
  2. ^ Shu Guang Zhang, 2010, The Sino-Soviet alliance and the Cold War in Asia, 1954-1962. The Cambridge History of the Cold War, Vol 1, p.371.
  3. ^ a b Crean, Jeffrey (2024). The Fear of Chinese Power: an International History. New Approaches to International History series. London, UK: Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 978-1-350-23394-2.
  4. ^ a b Hou, Li (2021). Building for Oil: Daqing and the Formation of the Chinese Socialist State. Harvard-Yenching Institute monograph series. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Asia Center. ISBN 978-0-674-26022-1.
  5. ^ Perlez, Jane (6 December 2013). "A Leader in Mao's Cultural Revolution Faces His Past". New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
Government offices Preceded byZhao Zukang Mayor of Shanghai 1949–1958 Succeeded byKe Qingshi Preceded byZhou Enlai Foreign Minister of the People's Republic of China 1958–1972 Succeeded byJi Pengfei Party political offices Preceded byRao Shushi Secretary of the CPC Shanghai Committee 1950–1954 Succeeded byKe Qingshi Academic offices New title President of the China Foreign Affairs University 1955–1969 Succeeded byLiu ChunClosed until 1980