Nien Cheng () (January 28, 1915 — November 2, 2009) was a Chinese American author who recounted her harrowing experiences of the Cultural Revolution in her memoir Life and Death in Shanghai. Born in Peking (Beijing), Cheng became a target of attack by Red Guards due to her management of a foreign firm in Shanghai, Shell. Maoist revolutionaries used this fact to claim that Cheng was a British spy in order to strike at Communist Party moderates for allowing the firm to operate in China after 1949. Her book documents her amazing courage and fortitude that enabled her to survive her imprisonment.
Cheng endured six-and-a-half years of squalid and inhumane conditions in prison, all the while refusing to give any false confession. Her daughter Meiping Cheng (), a prominent Shanghai film actress, was murdered by Maoists after the young woman refused to denounce her mother. Cheng was rehabilitated after the Gang of Four (including Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's wife) were arrested, and she used the opportunity to leave for the United States, as she was still a constant target of surveillance by those who wished her ill.Cheng used Mao's teachings successfully against her interrogators, frequently turning the tide of the struggle sessions against the interrogators.
Nien Cheng was a long time friend of Nelson T. Johnson, the U.S. Ambassador to China and his wife Jane Augusta Washington Thornton Beck Johnson.
After moving to Washington D.C. Cheng traveled extensively and was a frequent speaker on the lecture circuit.
Canadian singer Corey Hart recorded an instrumental song based on her memoir in his 1990 album Bang!
The alleged killer of Meiping, a rebel worker named Yongnian Hu, was arrested and given a suspended death sentence by Shanghai authorities in 1980, but Hu was subsequently paroled in 1995.
Nien Cheng died of renal failure after having lived a long and rich life on November 2, 2009.