Chen Yun

Name in Chinese
Name in Wade-Giles
Ch'en Yun
Related People

Biography in English

Ch'en Yun (1900-) began his political career as a Communist labor organizer in Shanghai. In 1938 he directed the organization department of the Central Committee. From 1940 to 1945 he was chairman of the northwest regional economic-financial committee. From 1946 to 1949 he was chairman of the party's Northeast bureau. After 1949 he was vice president of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau and held senior economic planning posts in the Peking government.

Little is known about Ch'en Yun's family background and early education except that he was born in the Shanghai area and probably received only limited primary schooling. As a young man, he worked at the Commercial Press in Shanghai as a typesetter. After joining the Communist party about 1924, Ch'en Yun became a labor organizer in Shanghai, where his knowledge of local conditions was useful to the party. During this period he came into contact with Liu Shao-ch'i (q.v.), who was in Shanghai in the summer of 1925 to organize anti-British agitation following the May Thirtieth Incident, when police in the International Settlement had fired on and killed several Chinese demonstrators.

Ch'en Yun rose gradually in the ranks of the Communist party. From 1931 to 1934 he was in the central soviet area in Kiangsi, where he directed programs aimed at organizing handicraft and other workers. He was elected to the Central Committee of the party in January 1934.

Ch'en Yun left Juichin at the time of the evacuation in October 1934 and accompanied the Communist forces from Kiangsi during the early stage of the Long March. He was at Tsunyi, Kweichow, when the meeting was held in January 1935 to debate intraparty differences regarding strategy and tactics appropriate to the Long March emergency. Since the views of Mao Tse-tung prevailed over those held by the group which had formerly dominated the central party apparatus in Shanghai, later official party histories date the beginning of Mao's political ascendancy in the party from the Tsunyi meeting. Ch'en Yun apparently was a member of the group which supported Mao at Tsunyi, for at that time Ch'en gained a position on the military council headed by Mao. In May 1935, after the Long March units completed the difficult crossing of the Tatu river in Sikang province, Ch'en left the main Communist forces and made his way overland to the Soviet Union. He remained in Russia for about two years. In Moscow, Ch'en Yun attended the Seventh Congress of the Comintern (July-August 1935), when the Comintern for the first time elected Mao Tse-tung to its Executive Committee. In addition to Ch'en Yun, the Chinese delegation at the 1935 Congress included Ch'en Shao-yu and K'ang Sheng (qq.v.). The three men left Moscow together in 1937, traveling to Shensi by way of Sinkiang. Ch'en Yun remained in Sinkiang for a time in 1937 and 1938, working with Soviet economic and technical officials during the period when Sheng Shih-ts'ai (q.v.), the dominant figure in the province, was collaborating closely with the Soviet Union {see Teng Fa) .

After his arrival at Yenan in 1938, Ch'en Yun was assigned to direct the organization department of the Central Committee, succeeding Li Fu-ch'un. That post was extremely important during the Japanese war years, when the Communist party was extending its control and expanding its membership at an unprecedented rate in the rural areas north of the Yangtze. Ch'en Yun came to be an increasingly influential figure at Yenan in the training and indoctrination of party members and cadres. His "How To Be a Communist Party Member," which appeared in May 1939, and Liu Shaoch'i's "How To Be a Good Communist" presented a concise formulation of the standards required for membership. Ch'en Yun's report later became one of the basic documents used in the cheng-feng [rectification] movement, the program which Mao Tse-tung initiated early in 1942 to strengthen political discipline in the party organization. The cheng-feng campaign, which affirmed the essential orthodoxy of the Communist party within its Chinese environment, did much to tighten that party into a closely knit machine organized on Leninist lines. Ch'en Yun also exerted growing influence on the economic affairs of the Shensi-Kansu- Ninghsia Border Region. As chairman of the regional economic-financial committee from 1940 to 1945, he guided programs designed to overcome the difficulties created by the economic backwardness of the area and by the military blockade imposed by Nationalist troops commanded by Hu Tsung-nan (q.v.).

During the Sino-Japanese war, Ch'en moved steadily upward through the senior echelons of party leadership. A member of the Central Committee since 1934, Ch'en had become a member of the Political Bureau of the party by 1940. At the Seventh National Congress, which met at Yenan in 1945, he was elected eighth-ranking member of the Central Committee and was reelected to the Political Bureau. At the time of the Japanese surrender in 1945, the Chinese Communist top command, well aware of the critical importance of Manchuria in the approaching struggle with the Kuomintang for control of China, assigned a strong group of Central Committee leaders to that area. In addition to Ch'en Yun, that group included Kao Kang, Li Fu-ch'un, Lin Piao, and P'eng Chen (qq.v.). Ch'en Yun was the senior Communist political figure in Manchuria during the postwar interlude. He played a key role in directing the activities of Communist cadres as they transferred to the Northeast the experience in peasant agitation and mobilization which they had gained earler in the so-called old liberated areas of northwest and north China. Ch'en was secretary of the Northeast bureau of the Chinese Communist party from 1946 to 1949 and chairman of the economic-financial committee of the Northeast Administrative Committee during the same period. When Lin Piao's troops entered Mukden in November 1948, Ch'en Yun became the top-ranking Chinese Communist official in the first major city on the mainland to come under Communist control. When the top leaders of the party assembled in north China early in 1949 to plan the formation of a new central regime, Ch'en moved to Peiping. The task of consolidating political and military controls in the Northeast then was delegated to Kao Kang, who was the senior Chinese Communist official at Mukden from 1949 through 1952.

With the establishment of the Central People's Government at Peking in October 1949, Ch'en Yun assumed new responsibilities at the national level. From 1945 to 1956 Ch'en Yun was a member of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the party. The Eighth National Congress (September 1956) and its second session (May 1958) made certain changes in the top hierarchy, but Ch'en Yun's position remained unaltered. He became a vice chairman of the Central Committee and the Political Bureau, and a member of the party's policy-making nucleus, the seven-man standing committee of the Political Bureau.

After 1949 Ch'en continued to hold senior positions in the government and in major people's organizations. During the first five years of the new regime, he was a member of the Central People's Government Council and a vice premier of the Government Administration Council. His major specific duties continued to lie in the economic sector. He was the first minister of heavy industry (1949-50), chairman of the economic-financial committee of the Government Administration Council (194954), and a member of the State Planning Commission (1952-54). He also directed the All-China Federation of Trade Unions from its sixth national congress, which met at Harbin in August 1948, until its seventh congress, which met at Peking in May 1953, when Lai Jo-yü succeeded him. In the governmental reorganization which accompanied the inauguration of the new constitution in 1954, Ch'en Yun became senior vice premier of the State Council, serving as acting premier in 1955 and 1956 when Chou En-lai was absent from Peking. He also successively headed the ministry of commerce (1956-58), the first ministry of commerce (1958), and the state capital construction commission (October 1958-January 1961). He was chosen as a delegate from Shanghai to both the First and Second National People's congresses. Ch'en Yun made two important trips to the Soviet Union. In the autumn of 1952 he accompanied Chou En-lai to Moscow for negotiations on issues outstanding under the February 1950 Sino-Soviet agreements on the Chinese Changchun railway and Port Arthur and played an important role in the bargaining which preceded the initial announcement of the level of Soviet economic and technical assistance of China's first Five-Year Plan beginning in 1953. In May 1958 Ch'en Yun led the Chinese observer group which attended important bloc economic and military meetings held at Moscow. Ch'en Yun owed his position in the Chinese Communist movement more to diligence than to theoretical training in the economics of national development. He demonstrated the combination of disciplined practical ability and consistent loyalty to authority which were basic ingredients in the exercise of top command responsibilities in the Chinese Communist party under Mao Tse-tung and Liu Shao-ch'i. Like Liu Shao-ch'i, Ch'en Yun was one of the very small group of political leaders in the Chinese Communist party in 1949 who had had experience in organizing the Chinese proletariat in the 1920's. Like Liu, Ch'en made his mark as a censor of political orthodoxy in the Yenan period and as a key man in the wartime expansion of the Communist party organization in the 1940's. For some 20 years he exerted substantial influence in economic affairs: first in the isolated and retarded areas of the northwest during the Sino-Japanese war, then in the strategic Northeast region during the civil war interlude from 1946 through 1948, and finally at the national level for some years after 1949.

Ch'en Yun was evidently a key figure in Peking's initial efforts in 1949-50 to establish effective control over a national economic structure which had been badly battered and seriously disorganized by years of foreign invasion and civil war. During the period of the first Five-Year Plan (1953-58), he remained prominent in economic affairs, his published statements relating principally to the basic problems and precepts of economic development following the Soviet pattern. In later years Ch'en was conspicuously absent from the news. Whatever the explanation of his inactivity, in 1964 Ch'en was still listed officially as a vice chairman of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist party. Cheng Chen-to T. Hsi-t'i Pen. Kuo Yuan-hsin n m W

Biography in Chinese

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