He hailed from Nanyang 南陽 (today in Henan) and belonged to the staff of Liu Bei 劉備 (161-222), when he was master of the province of Jingzhou 荊州 in the middle Yangtze region. After the conquest of Yizhou 益州 (Sichuan), Chen was made military commander of the northern parts of the province, and was governor (taishou 太守) of the commanderies of Wenshan 汶山 and Jianwei 犍為. In 226, he was made Director of the Imperial Secretariat (shangshu lin 尚書令).
In the same year, Chen was sent out as an envoy to the empire of Wu in the east. The visit was repeated as a congratulatory mission when Sun Quan 孫權 (182-252) adopted the title of emperor of Wu 吳 (222/229-280) in 229. At that occasion, Chen was allowed to ascend with Sun Quan the steps of an altar in Wuchang 武昌 (today in Hebei), and created – as a representative of Shu – an alliance with Sun against the empire of Wei in the north. In the treaty, the empires of Shu and Wu even defined which provinces would fell to whom in case they could conquer northern China. The provinces of Xuzhou 徐州 (northern Jiangsu), Yuzhou 豫州 (northern Hubei), Youzhou 幽州 (Peking), and Qingzhou 青州 (Shandong) would be part of Wu, and Bingzhou 并州(Shanxi), Liangzhou 涼州(Gansu), Jizhou 冀州(southern Hebei) and Yanzhou 兗州 (Henan) part of Shu, while the metropolitan province of Sizhou 司州 (Luoyang) would be divided among the two.
When Chen returned, he was invested as Township Marquis of Chengyang 城陽亭侯.