Chen Tanqiu graduated from Wuhan Higher Normal School (present day Wuhan University) after which he played a leadership role in the May Fourth Movement in 1919. Chen then created the Wuhan Communist group with Dong Biwu in 1920. In 1921, Chen and Dong Biwu went to the meeting that established the CPC, later known as the first National Congress of the Communist Party of China.
After he returned from the national congress, Chen continued as the local leader of the CPC. In February 1923, Chen was one of the leaders who organized the February 7th Jinghan Railway Strike that sparked the labor movement nationwide.
Chen Tanqiu was a delegate of the CPC to the Comintern between 1935 and 1939. Chen was also elected to the third, the fifth, the sixth and seventh national CPC congress. However, the delegates of the seventh national party congress weren't aware of his execution by Sheng Shicai in 1943.
- From Friend to Comrade, by Hans J. Van de Ven, University of California, Berkeley Center for Chinese Studies, page 275