Mao Zedong declares in his often quoted statement clearly who is in charge of the army. "Communists do not fight for personal military power (they must in no circumstances do that,…), but they must fight for military power for the Party, for military power for the people…. Every Communist must grasp the truth, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party.
emphasizes that building a modern army cannot be at the expense of the political consciousness of the troops. "The Chinese People's Liberation Army must build up its various arms, strengthen itself in modern technical equipment, strengthen its combat training and its fighting power so as to undertake the historical task of defending the motherland and opposing imperialist aggression …This requires of the whole army that it continue to conduct profound political training of officers and men, and ceaselessly raise the level of political consciousness of the whole army. The high morale and excellent political quality of the People's Liberation Army are always a basic factor in defeating any enemy.”
Zhu De (1886-1976) Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (1946-1954)
The division between commanders and political commissar is not always clear; sometimes persons change their roles. Kondapalli (2005) decribes the function of political commissar:
a) Overseeing a military unit
b) Ensuring the loyalty of troops to the CCP’s rule
c) Carrying forward CCP’s current political line, policies and principles 7
d) Overseeing civilian matters, personnel affairs, education
e) Enhancing the morale and entertainment of troops8
f) Studying closely the military personnel’s thinking processes and conduct towards rules and regulations and enhancing their political consciousness (sixiang juewu) and comprehension9
g) Reporting, conducting cadre meetings, investigation, study sessions, observing the three democracies [in the spheres of politics, military and economic affairs], and personnel responsibility system [gangwei zerenzhidu]
Chang (1995) notices: "During the Korean war, the advent of ultra-professionalism in the PLA seriously undermined the credibil-ity of the commissar, especially at the unit level. His traditional right to countersign all orders was frequently ignored, especially at the company level where battle pressures were most acute. By 1954, with the formal reorganisation of the PLA along Russian lines the commissar found his role seriously restricted." Speaking bitterness is a way to improve the political consciousness of the soldiers. "Unlike speaking bitterness in rural areas, which had face-to-face confrontations and accusations, the PLA campaigns were carried out without the presence of the accused. PLA soldiers were also not directly involved in economic struggles with landlords concerning land and property. However, the initial motivation to launch speaking bitterness in the army was similar to that in villages, which was to address the issues of morale and political enlightenment by appealing to bitter memories and a sense of injustice. Finally, the individual, traumatic experience of soldiers was directed towards larger targets: the Nationalist Army and Chiang Kaishek." This method is specially used for defected GMD soldiers, in 1947 75.000 soldiers defected and in 1948 50.000. These new recruits had various political backgrounds and often confused about the need to fight a civil war. Soldiers from “rich” families did not accept the notion that landlords ex-ploited tenants rather they provided work. "While class consciousness was the first step in the scheme of politicizing the soldiers, the second step was to guide the soldiers to comprehend the socioeconomic relationship between those who exploit and those who were exploited."
and uses it also during the Korean War. The People’s War is based on the principle that people are more important than weaponry. A shortage of weapons can be compensated with high levels of moral and motivation of the soldiers. Food and wages are important elements to accomplish these high levels, also the relation between soldiers and officers is of importance. The officers have to set a good example. Political indoctrination is another weighty part of the strategy. The prospect of land reform reinforces the loyalty of the locals, which is also important. The strategy of the People’s war is very simple. “First, in the strategic defensive stage, the enemy is "lured in deep," overextended, and isolated. Then, in the strategic stalemate phase, the Chinese strength of morale and numbers is brought to bear in a guerrilla war of attrition. Finally, through a strategic offensive, enemy strength is reduced to parity and then inferiority, after which a transition to regular warfare occurs to bring about the enemy's defeat.7 It should be noted that guerrilla warfare is but one aspect of the broader concept of people's war.” The strategies of People’s War are a success during the war with Japan and during the Civil War. In both wars, the party with the most firepower and technology did not win the war. In first instance, the People’s war strategy is also a success in Korea, but during the war this strategy seems to have lost his momentum. One reason for its failure is the lack of support of the local Korean people.
The support of the Chinese people for the Korean War is achieved by much propaganda work under the title "Resist America Aid Korea" in which elements such as patriotism and nationalism are applauded and pro-US sentiments are rejected. See
The influence of SU advisors and methods of training have strongly promoted this change. Their aim is "…transforming itself from the past, purely land force, depending in the main on infantry for fighting, to land, naval, and air forces with various kinds of modern technical equipment and capable of waging coordinated warfare between various arms in resisting invasion." At military academies non-military teachers are allowed to give lessons in mathematics and physics. They are recruited from several universities, companies, and governmental departments to enhance the level of the military academies. In addition, the SU sends experts necessary to supplement the shortage of capable Chinese teachers. To increase the attractiveness of the army for married officers, the RMC decided in July 1953, to allow military officers who have served in the military for more than five years to have their families live together with them and receive limited benefits. In 1952, the RMC has decided that only division-grade and above military officers, aviation crew, and college instructors are allowed to take an annual leave once a year. In 1954, all unmarried officers who live separately from their parents and married officers who live separately from their spouses, are included.
In later years Mao Zedong will revoke this opinion and will favor political consciousness above professionalism.
Stalin warns Mao "In my view, the plan you outlined in your cable is risky and can only be successfully employed once or twice. . . . The British and Americans will easily guess at such a plan, and will therefore change their tactics; you will not be able every time to draw their main force north without suffering losses. . . . Besides this, you need to consider that when the British and the Americans push north, they will establish new defense lines, one by one. Therefore, whenever you need to go on the offensive, it will be hard to break through the British and American defense lines without incurring massive losses, which, of course, is not desirable. . . . It is not convincing to argue by analogy to Chiang Kai- shek’s army. First, you are now facing a different army, and, second, there is no basis to believe that the British and American armies are as foolish as Chiang Kai- shek, and that they will allow you your choice of annihilating their whole army one battalion at a time." Cited in Shen (2012b). Page 183