The Common Program of the People's Republic of China 1949-1954


On May 1, 1948, Mao Zedong makes the first move to create a new political conference with other political parties and persons. The Central Committee (CC) issues an invitation in their slogan of the May 1 celebration. “Every democratic party and group, every people’s organization and social dignitary should (join together to) promptly convene a (new) Political Consultative Conference (PPC) to discuss and then convoke a people’s representative congress that will turn establish a democratic coalition government”.
Already in October 1947, the PLA issues a manifesto declaring: “Unite the workers, peasants, soldiers, students, and commercial elements, all oppressed classes, all people's organizations, all democratic parties and groups, all national minorities, overseas Chinese everywhere and other patriotic elements — unite to organize a national united front to strike down the dictatorial government of Chiang Kai-shek and establish a democratic coalition government.” December 1947 Mao ads to this statement "this united front must also be under the firm leadership of the Chinese Communist Party."

The response on the May 1st appeal is "overwhelming". Particularly from political leaders who have fled to Hong Kong after 1948 when Jiang Jieshi decided to forbid several political parties. Several responders had little political influence.
Barnett (1963) predicts "the alliance of these splinter groups in Hong Kong with the Communist Party lifted the names of their leaders from relative obscurity to prominence in the seething rumor markets of present-day China. … It is probable, therefore, that some time next year (1949) press dispatches and other reports of developments in China will contain the names of many political parties, groups, and leaders in China that heretofore have been virtually unknown, even to many people within their own country."
These politicians had nowhere to go but to the communists to realize their ideals or they had to retreat into passivity. Not only politicians are positive, about 50% of the students are in favour of forming a coalition government. The first talks between the CCP and the Minzhu Dangpai take place in the Northeast in August 1948, which is under the control of the PLA. Many of these political refugees in Hong Kong reach Harbin by boat and by crossing the border with North Korea. The communist spy Pan Hannian is responsible for the transport of at least 350 sympathizers from Hong Kong to areas in the north controlled by the communists. They are eager to leave Hong Kong because the secret police of the GMD is persecuting them even in Hong Kong. Once the group arrived in Dalian, Zhou Enlai personally arranged a fine hotel, a banquet, and even a new set of clothes against the harsh Northern winter.
During their stay in the Northeast, several representatives of the Minzhu Dangpai made a tour around the cities and rural areas which are ruled by the communists. "Having learned first-hand about the conditions –the successes and the problems- facing leaders in the liberated areas, the democrats were at last ready to join the CCP to begin their work of nation-building in earnest".
The secret meeting in Harbin (November 25, 1948) with members of the Minzhu Dangpai, like Shen Junru, Li Jishen, and Zhang Bojun and on the CCP side with Gao Gang and Li Fuchun ends in the decision to establish a preparatory Committee to form a political consultative conference. The following statements are made:
(1) the new CPPCC preparatory committee is composed of representatives of the Communist Party of China and 23 units including democratic parties, people's organizations and non-party democrats who support the "May 1 slogan";
(2) The affairs of the preparatory meeting are responsible for inviting representatives of all parties participating in the new CPPCC, drafting meeting documents and convening formal meetings;
(3) The organization regulations of the preparatory meeting are recommended to be drafted by the CCP and sent to all parties for review. After approval, they will be formally adopted by the preparatory meeting.
(4) Decisions on the nature and tasks of the new CPPCC:
(a) The scope of participation of the new CPPCC is composed of representatives of various democratic parties, people's organizations and non-partisan democrats who oppose U.S. imperialist aggression, the reactionary rule of the Guomindang, and the oppression of feudalism and bureaucratic capital. All reactionary parties and reactionary elements must be excluded and not allowed to participate;
(b) The new CPPCC will be held in 1949, and the specific time and place will be decided by the preparatory committee;
(c) The main issues that should be discussed and realized at the CPPCC meeting are the formulation of a common program and the establishment of a coalition government.
Chang (1952) states: "…only those parties, associations, and non-partisan leaders who openly opposed American imperialism, reactionary Kuomintang rule, feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism, would be admitted as members, and that all reactionary parties or members who worked with the Nanking Government would be ipso facto debarred." See also.
Before and during this negotiations the Minzhu Dangpai try to make some major changes in the program. "Pressentant les transformations à venir,
Luo Longji
Luo Longji (1898-1965) Politician
Zhang Lan
Zhang Lan (1872-1955) under house arrest in Shanghai
Huang Yanpei
Huang Yanpei (1878-1965) Educator member of the Central People's Government
remettent en octobre leurs propositions à
Wu Han
Wu Han (1909-1969) 2nd left, Zhou Enlai 3rd left, Shen Junru 4th left
avant son départ en zone communiste….(note 23) Ils proposent au parti communiste l’instauration d’un système d’assemblée (yihuizhidu ) ; une politique étrangère équilibrée (xiehe waijiao zhengce ) qui permettrait le maintien de relations avec l’URSS et les États-Unis ; la possibilité pour la Ligue démocratique de quitter le gouvernement de coalition et de devenir un parti d’opposition (yedang ); enfin d’éviter les doubles affiliations des membres de la Ligue."
Rudolph (2021) observes "Intellectuals like Zhang Bojun 章伯鈞 (1895–1969) or Shen Junru possessed a valuable social and cultural capital that enabled them to communicate effectively with social groups beyond the Communists’ reach. Writings of Li Jishen, Shen Junru, and Zhang Bojun from the year 1948 illustrate how these political thinkers reframed the plans for a new consultative conference in a way that resonated more with the Republican elites than the anti-capitalist or anti-bureaucrat slogans of the Communist camp." "They embraced the call for a new consultative conference as the only remaining road to a democratic, peaceful, and united “New China.” Everyone not on their side was a reactionary working against the interest of the people.49"

Shortly hereafter, the negotiators of the CCP and the Minzhu Dangpai decide to draft a provisional program of action. One of the main clauses is this program is the right of the Minzhu Dangpai to decide not to sign the definitive agreement or to withdraw from the preparatory committee. In reality, the Minzhu Dangpai do not have real power to make this kind of demand as Mazur (1997) points out: "However, this provision was contrary to the Leninist principle of democratic centralism in which the minority has no choice but to agree with the majority. Even though the democratic people gained this acknowledgment of the right to withdraw, in fact, since the minority would be excluded from the political arena if it withdrew, it would have been little more than a symbolic act. The completion of the Common Agreement was the first step in the founding of the civil state and coalition government."
This limitation is not an obstacle for the Minzhu Dangpai, the proposal to form a coalition government is a big step forward. The GMD never wanted to constitute such a government. "…the very word coalition meant that there was a place in it for them from the beginning. This was legitimacy that they had never been accorded by the Nationalists".
However, not only the Minzhu Dangpai wins in this situation, also the CCP has a lot to win. The CCP considers these parties "… of great symbolic and practical importance. In China they were conduits to the "middle elements", the great mass of people between the CCP and GMD"
Grad (2001) describes: "The Democratic League would be the most important group that the Chinese Communist Party sought as an ally. Their independent character and inclusion of students, businessmen, and intelligencia made them an invaluable source when the Communists pursued the ultimate goal of a socialist revolution of the proletariat in the cities."
Lim (2016) notes that Mao Zedong not only invited the Zhi Gong Party as representatives of the Overseas Chinese but also individual delegates from overseas to participate directly in the united front, and as a separate constituency in its own right.
The author of the New Year message (1949) of the CCP make a statement about joining the revolutionary cause. "We hold that the Chinese people's revolutionary camp must be expanded and must embrace all who are willing to join the revolutionary cause at the present stage. The Chinese people's revolution needs a main force and also needs allies, for an army without allies cannot defeat the enemy"

Huai Huai campaign....

On January 10, 1949, the Huai Huai campaign of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ends in a total defeat of the GMD army. In November 1948, the CCP started the campaign to be able to push through from the Northeast of China to the Southwest in the direction of Shanghai. The PLA is able to mobilize more than 5 million peasants to fight against the GMD. The prospect of owing their own piece of land after victory is the trump card of the CCP.
The consequences of this victory are that Tianjin and later on Beijing fall in the hands of the PLA. Fu Zuoyi, the GMD governor of Beijing, decides to negotiate with Lin Biao, a PLA general, to arrive at a peaceful regime change. On January 31, 1949, the PLA marched peacefully into Beijing. People celebrated the Chinese New Year (the year of the Heavenly Ox) and the arrival of the troops. Beijing becomes the headquarters of the government and the CCP.
Triumphal march of PLA

On January 14, 1949, Mao Zedong proposes 8 points to use as a basis for negotiation with the GMD government.
On April 1, 1949, Zhou Enlai leads formal peace talks with GMD representatives in Beijing. On April 15, 1949, the GMD rejects the proposals of the CCP, and 6 days later the CCP takes the decision to cross the
Chang Jiang River
April 20, 1949 The PLA crosses Chang Jiang River
and to start an attack to conquer south China. The push forward is very successful and at May 3, Hangzhou is in the hands of the PLA , on May 16, Wuhan, on May 22, Nanchang, and on May 25, Shanghai. Jiang Jieshi decides to flee to Taiwan but later on, returns to
Retreat of the GMD Government in 1949
. On November 29, 1949, he leaves the mainland but not after he executed GMD general
Yang Hucheng
Yang Hucheng (1893–1949)Former warlord later GMD general
, his family, and loyal officers. In December 1936, Yang and
Zhang Xueliang
Zhang Xueliang (1901–2001) He spent over fifty years under house arrest
held Jiang hostage to force him in the United Front against the Japanese. See Part 1.

Triumphal march of PLA

Moreover in other regions of China, the PLA is able to drive back and to eliminate GMD troops. In July 1949, the PLA won in Hunan, Jiangxi and in August in Lanzhou. The next month, Gansu and Qinghai fall in the hands of the communists. The GMD troops that are still fighting are geographically spread across the south, the southwest, and Taiwan. They are no longer capable to coordinate their actions. Most of the generals of the GMD no longer possess the political will and the military power to withstand the PLA forces. Many of them defect to the PLA, along with them the remains of their soldiers.
Mao Zedong states: "In the future, there will probably be many more war prisoners [coming from] our capture of the cities. Thus, in every district and every troop, the training of war prisoners must be well organized. In principle, no prisoner will be let go. Most of them will be filled into our troops and some will participate in the production in the rear front. The human resources for our troops to defeat Jiang mainly come from prisoners; this must be brought home to the whole party.51"
Table 1 shows the military strength of the PLA and the GMD in September 1949.

map of civil war February 1949

Civil war situation February 1949

map of civil war October 1949

Civil war situation on October 1949

map of civil war December 1949

Civil war situation on December 1949

Shen (2012b) cites a Soviet Embassy Counselor about the actions of the GMD troops which did not surrender. "The retreating Nationalist Army left a landscape of destruction: bombed dams; tens of thousands of hectares of ruined fields; missing or bombed railway locomotives and carriages; ruined electric generating plants and warehouses; ruined transportation, telegraph and radio- communication equipment; and sunken ships. When the Nationalists abandoned Shanghai, they destroyed the international wireless station, blew up the main workshops at the Jiangnan Shipyard and the petroleum tanks at the Jiangwan airport, and scuttled four oil tankers and ten ferries. When they fled Wuxi, the Nationalist forces set fire to more than 1,000 trucks carrying industrial equipment from Shanghai. Of the more than 100 railway bridges between Wuhan and Guangzhou, more than 90 were bombed out. At Hankou, the Nationalists destroyed more than 30 ships and bombed out all the rail bridges linking the three Wuhan cities. 3"

Lutze (2007). Page 158 [↩] [Cite]
Barnett (1963). Page 83 and Page 85 [↩] [Cite]
Pepper (1971). Page 734 [↩] [Cite]
Lutze (2007). Page 184. [Cite]
Guo (2017) remarks "Invited to Xibaipo and later to Shenyang and Beijing were also a number of women activists (leaders Li Dequan, Cao Mengjun, Xu Guangping and Li Wenyi), whose political support was equally important for the Party to showcase its achievements in the area of “women’s liberation”. Guo (2017). Page 51 [↩] [Cite]
See for details Qin (2005). No pagenumber [↩] [Cite]
Chang (1952). Page 261 [↩] [Cite]
See 10-10-1948 Mao Zedong “On the September meeting –circular of the central committee of the communist party of China” [↩]
Vidal (2008). Page 50.[Cite]
"Huang Yanpei, who was neither a Nationalist nor a Communist but a liberal educationalist who tried to bridge the gap between the government and the Communists. Huang shared the widely held view that the only hope for China was ";to chart a middle course, weaving a path between the Scylla of the GMD and the Charybdis of the CCP" (Curran,1992: 86). After his mediating efforts had failed, Huang withdrew from politics, returned to academia, but eventually chose to side with the Communists." Fung (1994). Page 491 [↩] [Cite]
Translation: Foreseeing the coming transformations, Luo Longji, Zhang Lan and Huang Yanpei propose in October to Wu Han before his departure to communist area .... (Note 23) They propose to the Communist Party's establishment of an assembly system (yihuizhidu); a balanced foreign policy (Xiehe waijiao zhengce) that would maintain relations with the USSR and the United States; the ability of the Democratic League of leaving the coalition government and become an opposition party (Yedang); Finally, to avoid double affiliations of members of the League. [↩]
Rudolph (2021). Pages 208-209 [↩] [Cite]
Mazur (1997). Page 58 [↩] [Cite]
Mazur (1997). Page 59 [↩] [Cite]
See also Wong (1993). Page 472 [↩] [Cite]
Groot (2004). Page xviii [↩] [Cite]
Grad (2001). Page 43 [↩] [Cite]
"even as the CCP CC began to invite delegates to prepare for a new PCC, it sought the direct participation of certain huaqiao (overseas Chinese) notables, and in this, the CCP proved to be remarkably successful.12 Indeed, the CCP was able to—very publicly—win one of the most famous of the huaqiao (Chen Jiageng/Tan Kah Kee) over to the cause of the New Democracy." "In a CCP CC directive sent to its Hong Kong and Shanghai branches, Chen Qiyou and Situ Meitang were listed as Zhigong Party delegates, and separate from the huaqiao invitees, Tan Kah Kee, Feng Yufang, and Wang Renshu." Lim (2016). Page 46 and note 12 [↩] [Cite]
During his secret mission (January, February 1949), Mikoyan proposes: "I should note that Stalin told me before my departure that one should take along a specialist in secret bugging devices, because he assumed that the Americans before they leave Beijing, will leave a spy network, and will have secret bugging devices in the buildings occupied by the government, and everything that will be said at the meetings will be known to them. In order to prevent this from taking place, he sent with me two specialists in uncovering the presence of bugging devices, and also disguised time bombs. A few days after the talks began I introduced our specialists Levkin and Podovinnikov. Mao Zedong was very glad, thanked Stalin, saying that in terms of uncovering bugging devices they had no experience whatsoever. Just about that time Beijing was liberated, so then I offered that before the government moves to Beijing, our specialists would go to Beijing and check all the offices, which were to be taken over by the government, from the point of view of presence of bugging devices" 04-09-1958 Anastas Mikoyan’s Recollections of his Trip to China [↩]
Cited in Westad (2003). Page 201.[Cite] The PLA did not dare release them to wander the country-side as unemployed bandits. Table 1. Organisation and strength of the GMD Army and PLA September 1949 [↩]
Shen (2012b). Page 89 [↩] [Cite]

Road to Common Program