During the first several years of the 21st century Chen rated among the world's leading singles players, achieving a number one world ranking in 2002–2003. He won the Swedish Open and the Asian Championships in 1999 as a nineteen-year-old. His subsequent titles included the Dutch (2000), Singapore (2002, 2003), Denmark (2002, 2006), Malaysia (2003), China (2005, 2006), and Thailand (2007) Opens. He twice captured the prestigious All-England Championships, 2002 and 2005, defeating his very formidable fellow countryman Lin Dan in the final on the second occasion. He played in the All England 6 consecutive times between 2001 and 2006, his first All England reached the final, losing out to Indian player Pullela Gopichand, 15-12 15-6. His performances at IBF World Championships and at the 2004 Olympic Games were not among his finest. He was a bronze medalist (semifinalist) at the 2001 and 2006 World Championships and was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Games in Athens. At the 2006 IBF World Championships Chen recorded a 303 km/h jump smash against Taufik Hidayat. Chen retired from competitive play in 2007.