Chen Yun (1905-1995)
Comrade Chen Yun is a great proletarian revolutionist, statesman, Marxist, pioneer and founder of China’s socialist economic construction, long-tested and excellent CPC leader of the Party and the country, as well as a key member of the first generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Mao Zedong at its core and the second generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Deng Xiaoping at its core.
Chen Yun was born in a poor peasant family in Liantang Town, Qingpu County, Jiangsu Province (currently known as Liantang Town, Qingpu District, Shanghai) on June 13, 1905. Back then, the Chinese nation was disaster-ridden, suffering from external imperialist invasion and domestic feudalistic oppression. Chinese people with lofty ideals were strenuously seeking for solutions to save the country and its people. Living at the bottom of society since the childhood, Chen experienced hardships in life to the fullest extent. The breakout of the May Fourth Movement in 1919 evoked patriotism within Chen, who was still a primary school student. He participated in the May Thirtieth Movement and the labor strikes in Shanghai in 1925, through which he realized that social transformation was essential for human emancipation. He joined the CPC in the same year, started his career as a professional revolutionist, and dedicated his whole life to the cause of communism. He successively served as one of the key leaders of the Party and the army during the Agrarian Revolutionary War (1927-1937), the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggressions (1937-1945) and the War of Liberation (1946-1949). He led the labor strikes and the peasant movement and participated in the world-renowned Long March of the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army; he participated in the vigorous fight against Japanese aggression and the liberation war of overturning Chiang Kai-shek's reactionary rule; he presided over the work of organization of the Party and financial and economic affairs in the Shaanxi-Gansu-Ningxia Border Region and the Shanxi-Suiyuan Border Region; he participated in and led the building and consolidation of northeast revolutionary base and economic recovery and reconstruction in the region. Through the whole journey, Chen Yun had shown no fear facing hardships and bravely shouldered the responsibilities. He made remarkable contributions to the implementation of major strategic decisions made by the CPC Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong, victory of the New Democratic Revolution and the founding of the People’s Republic of China with his careful plan, superb intelligence and diligent work.
After the founding of the People's Republic of China, Comrade Chen Yun served as a key member of the first generation of central collective leadership with Comrade Mao Zedong at its core. He served successively as a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Vice Chairman of the CPC Central Committee, a member of the Central People's Government, Vice Premier of the Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government (valid from 1949 to 1954) and Director of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee. He took charge of national financial and economic work for many years and innovatively implemented the instructions of the CPC Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong. Meanwhile, he put forward various practical guiding thoughts, policies and major measures. He made outstanding contributions to rapid recovery of the national economy and maintaining stability of people’s lives in the initial period of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. He proposed unified purchase and sale of main agricultural products such as grain and cotton. He also made contributions to orderly implementing socialist transformation of private ownership of the means of production and laying foundation for national socialist economy and socialist industrialization. He was praised by Comrade Mao Zedong and admired by the rest CPC members for his excellence in the work of national financial and economic affairs. During the “Cultural Revolution” (a sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 to 1976), he had fought resolutely against the Lin Biao (Marshal of the People's Republic of China) and Jiang Qing (a Chinese communist revolutionist) Counter-Revolutionary Cliques and participated vigorously in making decisions to overthrow the Gang of Four (a political faction composed of four CPC officials with Jiang Qing as the leading figure). The Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee was of far-reaching historic significance. On the session, Chen, together with Ye Jianying (Marshal of the People's Liberation Army) and Li Xiannian (President of the People's Republic of China between 1983 and 1988) gave full support to Deng Xiaoping’s guideline, that is, emancipating minds, seeking truth from facts and uniting as one in looking to the future. The session established Comrade Deng Xiao Ping’s core leadership in the Party, made the strategic decision to shift the focus of work of the CPC and the state to socialist modernization and decided to carry out the reform and opening-up policy, marking a great historical turning point for China. On the session, Chen was re-elected as a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, Vice Chairman of the CPC Central Committee and First Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. He was appointed as the Director of the Central Advisory Commission after the 13th CPC National Congress. As an important member of the second generation of central collective leadership with Deng Xiaoping as the core, Chen, together with other comrades in the central collective leadership, led the CPC in setting things right in ideological line, political line and organizational line and in scientifically evaluating the historical position of Mao Zedong. They adhered to and developed Mao Zedong Thought, formulated and carried out the Party's basic line, namely, making economic development the central task, upholding the Four Cardinal Principles and remaining committed to reform and opening up. They made correct resolutions on issues left by the history after the founding of the People's Republic of China. They advanced the CPC’s construction during the new period, promoted handover and cooperation between existing officials and new ones, especially seized the day to cultivate and select young and middle-aged officials with both political integrity and professional competence. They maintained the stability of the Party and the state, starting a new period for development of socialism cause in China. Chen made significant contributions to a new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
As an outstanding CPC leader in dealing with economic affairs, Comrade Chen Yun left others with deep impression for his remarkable achievements in the work of the national financial and economic affairs. His opinions were yearned for on critical issues in economic development when facing difficulties in particular. He never failed others’ expectations and could always succeed in mastering the overall situation and focusing on the crucial point to work out solutions in time. At the early days, China was challenged by debilitating economy, soaring inflation and the disordered financial system left by old China. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee and Comrade Mao, Chen mapped out specific plans and meticulous organization. Thanks to the joint efforts of the Party and the whole nation, China achieved unification of national finance and economy and price stability within a year. To boost national socialist industrialization, Chen carried out in-depth investigation and drew on helpful experience from abroad. Standing on China's national conditions, he led successfully preparation and implementation of the First Five-Year Plan, accumulating valuable experience for the Party to push the process of industrialization. Moreover, he played an important role in leading socialist transformation. After the basic completion of socialist transformation, he explored vigorously on the approaches of making the newly established socialist economic system to better adapt to national conditions and development of productivity. He put forward the idea of “three mainstays and three supplements”, which covered three aspects of the economy. First, the state and the collective sectors should be the main part of the industrial and commercial sectors, but they should be supplemented by a certain number of individual firms. Second, planned production should be the main part of agricultural and industrial production, but it should be supplemented by autonomous production within the scope of the plan in accordance with changes in the market. Third, the national market should be the main part of a unified socialist market, but it should be supplemented by a free market led by the state within certain limits. The novel idea was rare and commendable then. It was developed in combination with China's actual situations, aiming to break away from the Soviet model of economic development. Chen noticed earlier problems caused by the Great Leap Forward (an economic and social campaign by CPC from 1958 to 1962) and the People's Communes Movement (born during the Great Leap Forward). He went all out to minimize damage under the unfavorable conditions. China’s national economy suffered serious setbacks in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Supported by Comrade Mao, Chen Yun, together with Liu Shaoqi, Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, played a leading role and worked out the policy of adjustment, consolidation, replenishment, and improvement. They formulated a series of policies to help national economy recover and flourish again. Chen was in charge of adjusting the national economy since the launch of reform and opening-up and socialist modernization. He summarized systematically the experience of China’s economic construction and made clear that “leftist” economic beliefs were to blame for previous setbacks in China's economy. He clarified that market regulation is necessary under the socialist system. The idea had profound impact on China to break through the highly concentrated planned economy. Thanks to the adjustment, the national economy ceased recession and started to recover, paving the way for the comprehensive launch of reform and opening-up. Chen actively supported and promoted the reform and opening-up advocated by Deng Xiaoping. Moreover, he put forward far-reaching ideas on the basis of his rich and long-term experience in leading economic work. He had constantly advocated that the top priority was the matter vital to national economy and the people's livelihood; the construction scale should match the national capabilities; balanced should be kept between economic construction and people's livelihood; economy should be developed according to economic rules supported by necessary state intervention; the matter of rational proportion of accumulation to consumption should be properly handled. He further stressed that the ultimate goal of economic construction was to improve people's livelihood and the lessons of “Agriculture and food are the basic guarantee of social stability” should be learned. Those ideas provide important guidance to better promote reform and opening-up and socialist modernization. Chen often reviewed his work from the perspective of people’s interests. He said, “I am responsible for people’s well-being. The stability of socialist construction cannot be achieved if people's material needs could not be satisfied.” His simple words indicated his deep understanding of the focus of economic development and the essence of China’s socialist economic construction. His in-depth exploration and accurate grasp of the rules of socialist economic construction accumulated valuable experience for the Party to lead the country to develop economy.
Comrade Chen Yun retired after the 14th CPC National Congress. However, he still paid high attention to the undertaking of the Party and the people. He fully supported the work of the Central Party Committee to the last minute of his life.
In his more than seven decades of revolutionary career, Comrade Chen Yun set a shining example of an ambitious, brave, wise, noble and virtuous proletarian revolutionist.
Throughout his life, Chen was persistent in his pursuit of the lofty ideal of communism, devoting his life to the Party and the people. He believed that Communist Party members should not only strive to fulfill specific tasks in different development stages of the Party, but also set up the outlook on life to the realization of communism. He remained firm in his belief in socialism and communism in weal and woe, showing a strong will as a Communist Party member and a proletarian revolutionist. His pursuit of the lofty ideal was reflected in his devotion to and deep concern about the people. As one of his famous sayings goes, “When we say we must serve the people, we mean we must solve their practical problems; otherwise it’s all just empty talk.” He addressed that the Communist Party must always keep the vital interest of the people firmly in mind. He had always followed his principle to work for the interests of the people. He said sincerely and earnestly, “We have strived for several decades to win the victory in the revolution. We should go all out to defend it. Next, we should focus on consolidating victory and achieving further development, the key of which is to improve people's livelihood and serve wholeheartedly the interests of the people.” He warned repeatedly that the entire Party should adhere to the mass line and pointed out explicitly the famous conclusion that the party conduct was of paramount importance to the ruling Party. He achieved the perfect unification of the persistent pursuit of the lofty ideal and unremitting efforts to serve the interests of the people.
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