Chen Yun: his life
Ezra F. Vogel
Chen Yun, one year younger than Deng Xiaoping, was born 100 years ago. For several decades beginning in 1931 when he joined the Central Committee at 26, he was ranked higher in the Party than Deng. Although known as an ‘economist’, Chen played a much broader role, in organization work, high-level Party discipline, urban administration, and basic Party policy. He was the key person to link China and Russia following the Zunyi Conference. He was head of the Organization Department from 1937 to 1943. He pioneered the liberation of urban areas as the leader in Harbin and later in Shenyang. He led the fight to get inflation under control during 1949–1952 and led the organization of the first five year plan. He was one of the most vocal against the leap forward and one of the most instrumental in guiding readjustment afterwards. On many occasions he withdrew from leadership and nourished his health. After 1978, he was the only person who spoke to Deng as an equal. Chen Yun was cautious, believing that progress would come from steady small steps rather than wild leaps. He believed in markets, but felt they should be bounded by plans and in 1978–1981 he helped guide the retrenchment policy that put the economy on a solid base before it began rapid growth.