Hu was born on September 9, 1896 in Shangyu County, east China’s Zhejiang Province. In 1919, he participated in campaigns supporting the May 4th Movement in Shanghai and published articles in Oriental Magazine to promote the idea of science and democracy.
In 1920, Hu, together with Zheng Zhenduo and Shen Yanbing, established Literary Research Society to promote New Literary Movement. In 1931, Hu wrote Moscow Impression to record his 7-day visit to the city as an Esperanto scholar. This was the first book published in China to introduce the politics, economy and social life of the former Soviet Union.
After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Hu worked in the publishing and media circle and also made contribution to China’s diplomatic causes.