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Chen Yi - First Mayor of Shanghai after 1949

Shanghai Bund 上海滩

Chen Yi 陈毅 was born in 1901 in Sichuan Province and died January 6, 1972. In 1919 he went to France to study, returning to China in 1921. Many members of the revolution studied abroad both before and after 1911. Their exposure to different ideas may have had something to do with their desire to create a new China, but more likely the type of young person who has the nerve, drive, and energy to break the mold and leave friends and family to go off for an adventure is also the type of person who will make a mark in any case. By 1923 Chen Yi was active in the Communist Party.

Eventually he became one of the ten military marshalls of China, and after 1949 became Mayor of Shanghai. He was responsible for the reform of Shanghai -- nationalization of industries, closing down brothels, prosecuting the gangs, and suppressing vice.

The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was not an easy time for anyone who was moderate, or who was seen as an obstacle, or who looked too comfortable. Pen Cheng, the moderate Mayor of Beijing was dismissed from his post on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. At a later date, Chen Yi was also removed from his post, persecuted, and forced to clean washrooms. Following the Cultural Revolution, Chen Yi was 'rehabilitated', as can be seen by the presence of the statue.

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Last update: February 2007
© Marilyn Shea 1996, 1999, 2002, 2007