An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History, Literature and Art

Chen Ping 陳平

Mar 8, 2011 © Ulrich Theobald

Chen Ping 陳平 was an eminent minister of Liu Bang 劉邦, the founder of the Han dynasty 漢 (206 BCE-220 CE).

He hailed from Yangwu 陽武 (modern Yuanyang 原陽, Henan) and was a well-educated person loved by the local populace for his fair treatment of others. When the first rebellions against the Qin dynasty 秦 (221-206 BCE) broke out, the became a follower of Jiu, the king of Wei 魏王咎, but soon left him to offer his services to Xiang Yu 項羽.

After the downfall of the Qin dynasty, he became a follower of Liu Bang, whom he saw as the more humane ruler than the arrogant and cruel Xiang Yu. Liu Bang appointed him Commander-in-chief (duwei 都尉), a position in which he became in charge of the chariots and the royal guard. He was later given the titles of vice general (yajiang 亞將) and commandant-in-ordinary of the guard (hujun zhongwei 護軍中尉).

During the war against Xiang Yu and the other warlords, Chen Ping was an important advisor to Liu Bang. During the battle of Xingyang 滎陽, he suggested bribing Xiang Yu's entrusted generals to deprive him of his strategic masters.

After the foundation of the empire in 202, Chen Ping played an important role in 201 in the arrestation of the powerful military leader Han Xin 韓信, at that time king of Chu 楚. When Liu Bang's army was besieged by the army of the steppe fedaration of the Xiongnu 匈奴, Chen Ping again preferred payments as a solution to liberate his lord. Chen Ping was given the title of Marquis of Huyou 戶牖, later as Marquis of Quni 曲逆侯.

After Liu Bang's death, Chen Ping was made chamberlain for attendants (langzhongling 郎中令), in 189 he became Counsellor-in-chief (chengxiang 丞相), together with Wang Ling 王陵. The latter soon resigned, and Chen Ping was the nominal sole counsellor, yet he growing influence of the relatives of Empress Dowager Lü 呂太后 narrowed his factual power.

Upon the death of the Empress Dowager in 180, he conspired with Zhou Bo 周勃 to extinguish the Lü family and received the Prince of Dai 代, Liu Heng 劉恆, as the new emperor, known as Emperor Wen 漢文帝 (180-157). During his reign, Zhou Bo and Chen Ping shared the office of counsellor until Zhou Bo resigned. Chen Ping died soon in office.

Tian Renlong 田人隆 (1992). "Chen Ping 陳平", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, Zhongguo lishi 中國歷史 (Beijing/Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), Vol. 1, 91.