Kao Chen is a major character in David Wingrove's original Chung Kuo science fiction series. He was a kwai, or hired knife, before becoming a major in Security serving under Knut Tolonen, and finally a plantation worker. He is the father of Kao Jyan and husband of Wang Ti.

Appearances in LiteratureEdit

Of Han peasant stock, Kao Chen, along with friend and fellow kwai Kao Jyan (no relation) is one of the first characters introduced to the reader in the Chung Kuo epic, directly after the introduction of a Son of Heaven and high rollers within the Dispersionists reflecting one of Chung Kuo's major themes of opposites. The two are tasked with assassinating a minster of The Seven, and in so doing, launch the events that follow within the series.


Kao Chen is unusually large, physically, for a Han, round shouldered and heavily muscled, with a head that he keeps shaven, and the "blunt, nondescrpit face of a thousand generations of Han peasants." This appearance belies the man's astute judgement, keen intelligence, and mastery of his skills as a kwai, or hired knife. Despite his mean beginnings in the lower strata of City Europe, Kao Chen is a highly moral individual and proves later to be a stalwart friend, dedicated family man, and loyal servant to the tang Li Shai Tung. He is one of several characters who's personal choices and vicissitudes take him from one extreme of Chung Kuo's society to another.