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Chen ([ʈʂʰə̌n]) (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Chén; Wade–Giles: Ch'en) is one of the most common East Asian surnames of Chinese origin. It ranks as the 5th most common surname in China as of 2007[1] and the most common surname in Singapore (2000)[2] and Taiwan (2010).[3] Chen is also the most common family name in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Hong Kong (spelled Chan in Hong Kong and Macau). It is the most common surname in Xiamen, the ancestral hometown of many overseas Hoklo.[4] Besides /, an uncommon Chinese surname / (Shen) sometimes is romanized as Chen because of mispronunciation.[5][6]).

Chen / Chan
Chen surname in regular script
RomanizationChen (Mandarin)
Dunn (Taiwanese, Mingnamyu, Holo)
Chan (Cantonese)
Tan (Hokkien, Teochew)
Chin (Taishanese, Hakka, Japanese)
Zen (Wu)
Ding (Gan)
Jin (Korean)
Trần (Vietnamese)
PronunciationChén (Pinyin)
Tan (Pe̍h-ōe-jī)
Language(s)Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Korean
Language(s)Old Chinese
DerivationChen (state)
Other names
Derivative(s)Trần, Jin (Korean name)
Sae-Tang Sae-Chen Sae-Chin Sae-Tan (Thai name)

It is usually romanised as Chan in Cantonese, most widely used by those from Hong Kong, and sometimes as Chun. The spelling, Chan, is widely used in Macao and Malaysia. In Min (including dialects of Chaoshan (Teochew), Hainan, Fujian, and Taiwan), the name is pronounced Tan. In Hakka and Taishanese, the name is spelled Chin. Some other Romanisations include Zen (from Wu), Ding (from Gan), Chern and Dunn from Taiwan. Chen can be variously spelt as Tan, Chan or Chin in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries.

In Japanese, the surname is transliterated Chin.

In Vietnam, this surname is written in Quốc Ngữ as Trần and it is the second most common surname.



Chen was derived from Gui (), the surname of the descendants of the legendary sage king Emperor Shun. When King Wu of Zhou established the Zhou dynasty in 1046/45 BC, he enfeoffed his son-in-law Gui Man (Duke Hu of Chen). Gui Man was said to be a descendant of Emperor Shun, at the State of Chen, in modern Huaiyang County, Henan Province. Chen was conquered by Chu in 479 BC, and the people of Chen adopted the name of their former state as their surname.

During the Northern and Southern Dynasties period (420-589), Chen Baxian established the Chen Dynasty (557-589), the fourth and the last of the Southern dynasties, which was eventually destroyed by the Sui Dynasty. It was also during this period that nomadically-cultured Xianbei people had systematically assimilated into China's agrarian culture, and adopted Chinese surnames under the state directives of Emperor Xiaowen of Northern Wei; the Xianbei subjects whose surname of "侯莫陳" (Hóumòchén) were converted to "陳" (Chen).[7]

Fujian[where?] was the original home of a Chen clan before that migrated under "Trần Kinh" 陳京 (Chén Jīng) to Dai Viet and whose descendants established the Tran dynasty which ruled Vietnam (Dai Viet), and certain members of the clan could still speak Chinese such as when a Yuan dynasty envoy had a meeting with the Chinese speaking Tran Prince Trần Quốc Tuấn in 1282.[8][9][10][11][12][13][14]

Other pronunciations and transliterationsEdit

Chen family ancestral temple, in Xiazai Village, Cangnan County, Zhejiang

Notable people surnamed 陳Edit

Historical figuresEdit


Modern figuresEdit

Note: this list is ordered by given name commonly used in English, regardless of spelling of surname and name order.

  • Agnes Chan (born 1955), Hong Kong singer
  • Alexandre Chan, Brazilian architect
  • Andrew Chan, Australian criminal executed by Indonesia; a member of Bali 9 and was executed in April 2015
  • Apollo Chen (born 1957), Taiwanese legislator
  • Arthur Y. Chen, Minister of Public Construction Commission of the Republic of China (1995-1996)
  • Arthur Chin (1913–1997), Chinese-American fighter ace in the Second Sino-Japanese War, recognized as the United States' first ace in World War II
  • Tan Boon Teik (陈文德) (1929–2012), former Attorney-General of Singapore
  • Bruce Chen (born 1977), Panamanian Major League Baseball player
  • Charles and Lee-Lee Chan, parents of Jackie Chan
  • Cheer Chen (born 1975), Taiwanese singer and songwriter
  • Chen Changwen (born 1944), Chinese politician and lawyer
  • Chen Cheng (1897–1965), Chinese politician and general, Vice President and Premier of the Republic of China
  • Chen In-chin, Chairperson of Central Election Commission of the Republic of China (2017–2018)
  • Tan Cheng Bock (born 1940), Singaporean politician and doctor
  • Tan Cheng Lock (1883–1960), founder of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) and an important figure during the independence of Malaya
  • Chen Show Mao, Rhodes Scholar and Singaporean politician
  • Chen Chih-ching (born 1952), Minister of Council of Agriculture of the Republic of China (2016)
  • Chih-Ping Chen (1906–1984), diplomat for the Republic of China
  • Chen Chin-jun (born 1956), Governor of Fujian Province (2007–2008)
  • Christine Chen (born 1968), American journalist, news anchor and CEO of Chen Communications
  • Chen Chung-shin, General Secretary of the Boy Scouts of China
  • Chen Danian 陈大年 (born 1978), Chinese Internet entrepreneur
  • Daniel Chan (born 1975), Hong Kong singer, songwriter and actor
  • Danny Chan (1958–1993), Hong Kong actor, singer and composer
  • Chen Ding (born 1992), racewalker, 2012 Olympic champion
  • Tran Duc Luong (born 1937), Vietnam President from 1997 to 2006
  • Chen Duxiu (1879–1942), co-founder of the Communist Party of China and its first General Secretary
  • Eason Chan (born 1974), Hong Kong actor and singer
  • Edison Chen (born 1980), Canadian-born Hong Kong singer
  • Edward Chen (born 1945), Hong Kong economist and politician
  • Fala Chen (born 1982), Hong Kong-born American actress and singer
  • Francis Chan (born 1967), American preacher
  • Frankie Chan (born 1951), Chinese martial arts actor, director, producer and composer
  • Chen Fu-hai (born 1963), Magistrate of Kinmen County
  • Chen Gang (disambiguation)
  • Chen Guangcheng (born 1971), Chinese civil rights activist
  • H. T. Chen, American dancer and choreographer
  • Chen Hong (badminton) (born 1979), Chinese former badminton player
  • Chen Hsiung-wen (born 1954), Minister of Labor of the Republic of China (2014–2016)
  • Chen Hsueh-sheng (born 1952), Magistrate of Lienchiang County (2001–2009)
  • Chen Hualan (born 1969), Chinese virologist
  • Jackie Chan (born 1954), Hong Kong actor, action choreographer, film director, producer, martial artist
  • Jason Chan (disambiguation)
  • Jason Keng-Kwin Chan (born 1971), Malaysian-Australian actor
  • Jaycee Chan (born 1982), American-born Hong Kong actor and singer, son of Jackie Chan
  • Jiebing Chen, Chinese musician who plays the erhu
  • Chen Jiongjiang 陳泂江 Desmond Tan (born 19 August 1986), Singaporean actor
  • Chen Jin (born 1986), Chinese retired badminton player
  • Jin Chen (1975–2014), a chef killed along with his wife and two sons in a suburb of Albany, New York
  • Chen Jingrun (1933–1996), Chinese mathematician
  • Joan Chen (born 1961), Chinese-American actress and film director
  • Johnny Chan (born 1957), Chinese-born American professional poker player
  • Jordan Chan (born 1967), Hong Kong actor and singer
  • José Antonio Chang (born 19 May 1958), former Prime Minister of Peru[15]
  • Joseph Zen (born 1931), Chinese Roman Catholic cardinal and former Bishop of Hong Kong
  • Joyce Chen (chef) (1917–1994), Chinese-American chef, author and television personality
  • Chen Jinn-lih, Vice President of Control Yuan (2008–2014)
  • Jiun-Shyan Chen, American engineering professor at University of California, San Diego
  • Julie Chen (born 1970), American television personality, news anchor and producer
  • Chen Xinqi 陈欣淇 Julie Tan (born September 22, 1992), Malaysian born Singaporean actress and model.
  • Tan Kah Kee (1874–1961), Chinese businessman, community leader and philanthropist in colonial Singapore and China
  • Chen Kaige (born 1952), Chinese film director
  • Karen Chen (born 1999), American figure skater
  • Kelly Chen (born 1972), Hong Kong actress and singer
  • Chen Kenichi (born 1956), Japanese chef on the syndicated TV program Iron Chef
  • Chen Kenmin (1912-1990), father of Chen Kenichi, and a prominent Chinese chef in Japan
  • Tan Khoen Swie (1883/1894–1953), Indonesian publisher
  • Kim Chan (1917–2008), American actor
  • Chen Kuang-fu (born 1955), Magistrate of Penghu County
  • Leighton Chan (born 1961), physician and researcher
  • Chen Lifu (1900-2001), Chinese politician, Minister of Education of the Republic of China
  • Chen Liping (born 1965), Singaporean actress
  • Chen Lu (born 1976), Chinese figure skater
  • Lucio Tan (陈永栽) (born 1934), Filipino-Chinese businessman and owner of Philippine Airlines
  • Margaret Chan (born 1947), Director of World Health Organization
  • Mei-Ann Chen (born 1973), American orchestra conductor and musician
  • Chen Mengjia (1911–1966), Chinese scholar and archaeologist
  • Michael Tan, a Chinese Filipino medical anthropologist and the 10th Chancellor of the University of the Philippines Diliman
  • Ming Chin (born 1942), Associate Justice of the California Supreme Court
  • Monica Chan (born 1966), Hong Kong actress and winner of Miss Hong Kong 1989
  • Moses Chan (born 1971), Hong Kong actor and model
  • Nathan Chen (born 1999), American figure skater
  • Patrick Chan (born 1990), Canadian figure skater
  • Chin Peng (1924–2013), longtime leader of the Malayan Communist Party
  • Peter P. Chen (born 1947), computer scientist, inventor of the Entity-Relationship Model
  • Priscilla Chan (philanthropist) (born 1985), philanthropist and wife of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
  • Priscilla Chan (singer) (born 1965), Hong Kong singer
  • Robert Chen (born 1969), violinist and Concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra
  • Roger H. Chen (born 1950s), Taiwanese-born American businessman, founder of the 99 Ranch Market supermarket chain
  • Chen Luomiou 陈罗密欧 Romeo Tan (born 9 April 1985), Singaporean actor
  • Ruco Chan (born 1977), Hong Kong actor and Singer
  • Chen Shaoguo (born 1971), Chinese former racewalker
  • Chen Hongyu 陳泓宇 Shaun Chen (born 3 November 1978), Malaysian actor in Singapore
  • Chen Shi-Zheng, Chinese-born American theater director
  • Shiing-Shen Chern (1911–2004), Chinese-American mathematician
  • Chen Shui-bian (born 1950), President of the Republic of China (2000–2008)
  • Chen Shui-tsai (born 1948), Magistrate of Kinmen County (1991–2001)
  • Sisy Chen (born 1958), Taiwanese politician and television commentator
  • Chan Siu Wing (born 1993), Hong Kong basketball player
  • Chen Shyh-kwei (born 1952), Governor of Fujian Province (2013)
  • Steve Chen (born 1978), co-founder of YouTube
  • Steve Chen (computer engineer) (born 1944), supercomputer designer and entrepreneur
  • Tony Tan-Caktiong (陳覺中), a Chinese Filipino businessman
  • Jin Sun-Yu (born 1988), South Korean short-track speed skater
  • Terry Chen (born 1975), Canadian actor
  • Chen Tianwen (born 1963), Singaporean actor
  • Tony Tan (born 1940), seventh President of Singapore
  • Trần Độ (1923–2002), lieutenant general of the People's Army of Vietnam and political reformer
  • Chen Tze-chung (born 1958), Taiwanese professional golfer also known as T. C. Chen
  • Vincent "Randy" Chin (1937–2003), Jamaican record producer and label owner, founder of VP Records
  • Vincy Chan (born 1982), Cantopop singer from Hong Kong
  • Chen Wei (dissident) (born 1969), Chinese dissident and human rights activist
  • Wei-Yin Chen (born 1985), Major League Baseball pitcher from Taiwan
  • Wing-tsit Chan (1901–1994), Chinese scholar
  • Chen Wei-zen (born 1953), Deputy Mayor of Taipei City (2010–2013)
  • Chen Xiaoxu (1965–2007), Chinese actress
  • Yau-Man Chan (born 1952), Malaysian-American table tennis player, technology executive and reality TV contestant
  • Chen Yi (communist) (1901–1972), Chinese communist military commander and politician, Mayor of Shanghai and Foreign Minister
  • Chen Yi (composer) (born 1953), Chinese violinist and composer
  • Chen Yi (Kuomintang) (1883–1950), Chief Executive of Taiwan Province
  • Chen Yonglin, Chinese communist diplomat who defected to Australia in 2005
  • Chen Yu (badminton) (born 1980), Chinese badminton player
  • Chen Yuh-chang (born 1955), Deputy Mayor of Taipei City (2006)
  • Chen Zhi, Chinese guitar teacher and promoter
  • Chen Zhu (born 1953), Chinese hematologist, molecular biologist, and politician, former Minister of Health



  1. ^ "公安部统计显示王姓成为我国第一大姓_新闻中心_新浪网". Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  2. ^ "Statistics Singapore - Popular Chinese Surnames in Singapore". Archived from the original on 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  3. ^ "Common Chinese Names". Retrieved 2014-06-23.
  4. ^ 厦门第一大姓陈氏:先辈300万贯钱买厦门岛. China Review News (in Chinese). 2010-10-01. Retrieved 9 June 2011.
  5. ^ "谌(諶) Shèn 名 姓。另见162页 chén。")現代漢語詞典(第七版). Contemporary Chinese Dictionary (Seventh Edition). 商務印書舘. The Commercial Press. 1 September 2016. p. 1165. ISBN 978-7-100-12450-8.
  6. ^ "谌家矶路 Shenjiaji Rd."
  7. ^ "". Archived from the original on 10 September 2004.
  8. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 120.
  9. ^ Taylor 2013, p. 103.
  10. ^ ed. Hall 2008, p. 159.
  11. ^ eds. Dutton & Werner & Whitmore 2013 .
  12. ^ Gunn 2011, p. 112.
  13. ^ Embree & Lewis 1988, p. 190.
  14. ^ Woodside 1971, p. 8.
  15. ^ Xinhua News Agency. "秘鲁改组内阁 华裔 何塞·陈出任总理". 15 September 2010. Accessed 22 December 2016.

External linksEdit