Born 1365 in Linchuan county of Jiangxi province. In 1393, he obtained the title of Ju ren (举人), 1394 Gong shi (贡士), later at the Imperial court examination, he obtained grade 3A, and granted the title of “同进士出身”.
In 1396 he was sent on a diplomatic mission to the western region of Chai Da Mu to establish border defence. In 1397 he was sent by the Emperor as an envoy to Vietnam. From 1406 to 1411 he served in the Wenyuange (文渊阁, The Imperial library in the Forbidden City) as editor of the Yongle Encyclopedia.
In 1414, 1416, and 1420 Chen Cheng led Ming mission to the court of the Timurids at Samarkand.