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


Starting from October 9 until October 21, 1949, the nominations on the ministries are in full swing. CCP members control the ministries related to power and security. These are the foreign office, the ministries of public security, railway, heavy industry, and food industry. In the first instance only CCP members worked on the foreign office, but due to inexperience of these officials, Zhou Enlai was forced to hire ex GMD personnel advisors. The new government also needed Soviet expertise. On almost every ministry, SU specialists were present.
On the less important ministries, the vice minister or assistant minister are members of the Minzhu Dangpai. These ministries are, for example, the home office, finance, trade, and labor. The lowest ministries in the governmental structure all have Minzhu Dangpai ministers. These are ministries like ministry of health, light industry and forestry. The control is in the hands of CCP vice ministers or assistant ministers. Andrews (1994) remarks: "One striking feature of the Chinese system is the arbitrariness with which power is held and exercised within the bureaucracy. A person's job title is no guarantee that he or she exerts a specific kind of authority in a given period, nor does lack of title necessarily mean that power cannot be exercised." See also Chart 1
For example, "…the Minister, Li Te-chuan (Li Dequan) (of Public Health),is largely a figurehead appointed because of her husband Feng Yü-hsiang (Feng Yuxiang) and her own leftist activities before 1949. Ho Ch'eng (He Cheng), who had been with the Red Army medical units since Kiangsi days (1931), was the real power in the Ministry until his downfall over the question of traditional medicine."
To strengthen the control on the administration, the CCP decided in November 1949 to establish Political Core Groups (PCG) on national, regional, and municipal level. The goal is to ensure party leadership over the government. Even the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate have their own PCG. On September 17, 1951, Peng Zhen expresses concern about the cooperation with non-CCP members (see Part 3 )
On March 10, 1953, the Politburo decided to further strengthen the control of the party leadership over the government and stipulated: "From now on, major and important principles, policies, plans and matters in government work must be discussed, decided or approved by the Party Central Committee. . . . [T]he work of Party core groups in all the agencies of the central government must be strengthened and be under the direct leadership of the Party Central Committee. Therefore, the present system of the council of Party core group secretaries in the central people's government is no longer necessary and should be abolished immediately. 23."
Besides these PCG, there also exist party work departments on all levels of the administration. At the start their work involves propaganda and united front work, later on these party work departments frequently take over the daily work of the units of the government. Zheng (1997) remarks: “Here the Chinese central and local administrative system would easily confuse anyone, because what we have observed were not just one or two, but three, different systems: One was the administrative hierarchy of the government itself; another was the system of PCGs within the government; and the third was the Party work departments that were outside the government but overlapped the government agencies."

Ministers and Commission chairmen

Many of the ministers and vice ministers have a military background. Two other recruitment backgrounds can also be identified. During the 1930’s, the CCP recruited many university students. Particularly in 1936, after the December 9th movement. During this student movement, students demanded an active response from the GMD government against Japanese aggression. The second group is the so-called “38-style cadres”. They joined the party in the second year (1938) of the Japanese occupation. They are often students of well-to-do family background and are considered more nationalist than communist. Most of these party cadres work after 1949 in the field of propaganda, education, culture, and economics.
Minzhu Dangpai Ministers of PRC

Table 7 shows the division of labor in 1953 between Minzhu Dangpai and CCP members. The small table below displays leadership cadres in the rank of ministers and deputy ministers in the central government, 1954
Fig. 7.1 leadership cadres in the rank of ministers and deputy ministers in the central government in 1954
Source: Heilmann (2000). Page 12


In March 1949, the plenum of the CCP decides to keep all important GMD officials in their position if they are willing to cooperate with the new regime. Not only on governmental level, but also on regional level most of the GMD officials are kept in their position. Deng Xiaoping (1949) stresses in a telegram the importance of this policy. "The Central Committee has made it clear that personnel taken over from the Kuomintang institutions, including military officers and men, government employees and factory workers and staff, should all be accepted; not one of them should be dismissed."
In September 24, 1949, The CCP issues guidelines on handling former GMD personnel. These guidelines are based on former mistakes. "After the liberation of Nanjing, Shanghai and Hangzhou, the dismissal of over 27,000 former personnel had led to high instability. With the peaceful liberation of Beijing, the 17,000 former military personnel being laid off had mostly fled to Suiyuan, full of bitterness and grievances, and now we still have the responsibility of resolving it. All such experiences indicate that former personnel should not be handled by means of dismissals and lay-offs. They must be given a way out in terms of work and livelihood. The Party and the People’s government have the responsibility to reform and feed these people through providing work. We are prepared, within a specific period after nationwide liberation, to retain 9 to 10 million people, including new and former military and administrative personnel. It most certainly would be difficult for the fiscal budget, but it is solvable, and politically it is essential"
The ministry of finance declares 90% of the tax collectors were earlier serving the GMD. GMD officials almost totally occupy the positions in the ministry of Justice. The need for specialists is enormous, so the criteria for employment are very flexible.
"Through underground Party cells and overt entreaties, the CCP enticed even high-ranking officials and judges of the former regime with no apparent leftist sympathies, such as the brilliant
Yang Zhaolong
Yang Zhaolong (1904-1979) The last acting Procurator-General of the Republican Supreme Court
, head of the Criminal Section of the Republican Ministry of Justice and protégé of Roscoe Pound, to stay and contribute to the building of “New China".
In Jinan, the capital of Shandong about 75 to 80% of the old officials kept their jobs. In 1950, the total numbers of old GMD cadres on duty are more than 400.000 persons, more or less a quarter of the total number of officials.
In Shanghai, 95% of the GMD personnel stay on their job after the takeover. Moreover in the rural areas, the GMD administrators keep their jobs. In his December 1949 report to Stalin Kovalev remarks: "Filling vacancies in the government apparatus is taking place exceedingly slowly. In the majority of ministries and central institutions apparatus is less than half full, and in some ministries, for example those of light industry, textile industry, forestry, [and] labour, there are no officials at all except for the ministers and their deputies. Creation of organs of state power in the localities almost has not been embarked upon yet."
Table 8 shows on regional level the representation of Minzhu Dangpai. This table is just an indication and is not at all complete.
The shortage of capable officials is very big. "According to the report of the conversation between Lu Dingyi, the Head of the Chinese Communist Party Central Organizational Department, and Sherbaiev, the Soviet Charge d'affaires to China, among one and half million Chinese Communist Party members in the Northern China Region (Huabei) one million three hundred thousand were illiterate. Among leadership above the district level (qu), almost half were illiterate or only had very little formal education. The Chinese Communist Party planned to spend two to three years to eliminate illiteracy among the party's lower-level cadres, and five years to achieve literacy among the rank-and-file party members."35
Gross (2016) remarks: "It also made gathering statistics and keeping records, the essentials of state building, almost impossible. 3 Moreover, although enthusiastic about the new government, cadres were bound by family, friend, and client networks whose needs often came first. "
Lu (2016) mentions some methods the MPS took to overcome the lack of able personnel "The Ministry of Public Security, under the leadership of Luo Ruiqin,58 was in charge of conducting mass political movements. However, the Ministry of Public Security had to deal with its own organizational issues concurrently, including a lack of politically reliable and trained professionals, and a shortage of administrative officers.59 A number of measures have been taken to deal with this predicament, including the use of different forms of social control, party propaganda of suppression of political suspects, the imposition of harsh and brutal criminal sanctions, and reliance on mass mobilization."
Besides the lack of capable cadres, the new regime faced also a huge unorganized urban population. "As a means to overcome the discrepancy between the regime’s interventionist plan and its own capacity to materialize it, the plan to organize the masses beyond the administration system was conceived. The names of the mass organizations multiplied at the street level ..., and this clearly shows not only that the government needed to establish these organizations at the street level, but also that the government planned enormous works to provide various urban services." See Table Mass organizations.
Even members of secret organizations can qualify for senior positions. During the civil war, the PLA has frequently used the secret organizations to beat the GMD. The most famous person is Zhu De, who became one of the most important officers in the PLA. Soon after 1949, members of the secret organizations are the first to be persecuted. See Article 5 .
According to U (2004) on a local level: "Staff recruitment during the early socialist years was driven not by what organizations within the emerging socialist political economy needed but by the unequal privileges among institutions, a state desire to alleviate unemployment, and the need to reorganize state establishments. No doubt some work organizations— that is, those well placed within the hierarchy of socialist institutions—absorbed new workers who were desirable on both political and technical grounds. For the rest, however, compliance with state dictates led to less happy results. "
Deng (2012) notices an additional problem "Like its rival the CCP, the Guomindang (GMD or Nationalist Party) was not an ordinary political party but a Leninist-style organization committed to social mobilization on a large scale. It left behind a large party-state apparatus, including many institutions such as state-owned factories. Except for those portions which had been transferred by the GMD to Taiwan, the apparatus and assets of the GMD-led Nationalist government were all taken over by CCP authorities." Deng (2012) continues "The targets of takeover were not limited to the agencies and assets legally owned by the previous state, but also included those belonging to individuals or organizations that were labeled as enemies by the CCP"...In fact, it was officially stipulated that "all factories, shops, banks, warehouses, ships, docks, railways, postal services, telegraph, electricity, and telephone services, waterworks, farms and pastures operated by the reactionary Guomindang government as well as its high-ranking officials must be taken over by the People‘s government."7In practice, CCP authorities were the sole judges of whether or not an enterprise belonged to the bureaucratic capitalist category. There was no legal process to judge appeals.


The embassies are one of the sectors where many of the GMD officials are fired or they have left for Taiwan. Military persons take these vacant positions. Persons like Wu Xiuquan, Geng Biao, Ji Pengfei and Huang Zhen. At the end 1950, of the 15 ambassadors sent abroad, 11 have the rank of a general. This does not only apply to the ambassadors, but the entire Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been purged of GMD officials and they are replaced by military and a small group of individuals who already took care of foreign affairs for the CCP in the years before 1949. However, even this ministry has to employ ex GMD officials.
"The Ministerial criteria of selecting ambassadors and consuls: 1) political loyalty and reliability; 2) knowledgeable, any ability in using foreign language would be a plus; 3) cautious, well-rounded, determined to implement policies and observe the leaders; 4) division, brigade or above level cadres." These new ambassadors lack diplomacy, they are more messengers instead of negotiators. The Chinese ambassadors consider foreign countries as territories of the enemy.


Military personnel are the main source for recruitment: " …PLA officers took up the leading posts in the newly established administration in the places they had seized. Millions of the PLA officers were assigned to civilian posts, and this practice was soon routinized into a system called zhuanye (transferring the officers to civilian posts). As a result, most local administrative posts were filled by the officers from the armies that had seized the area. Although numerous cadres were transported from the base areas to the new areas,.."
Solinger (1977) states that in the military structure on regional and national level are also old GMD officials in function. In the national defense council, 30 generals of the 96 in total have a GMD background. A lot of them have chosen the side of the PLA to survive. The party had already applied the tactic to appoint non-communist on several more or less important positions in the ‘liberated’ areas before 1949.
"…ils sont choisis en fonction de leur proximité avec le Parti, de la confiance qu’on leur accorde, de leurs compétences ou encore de leur influence, à l’instar de Zhang Lan, Huang Yanpei ou Zhang Dongsun. Ces mêmes critères président à la formation des gouvernements provinciaux et municipaux, au choix des responsables aux différents échelons de l’administration et à la désignation des responsables des syndicats, des huit petits partis et des nouvelles associations professionnelles et culturelles dont les bases ont été jetées à l’été 1949."


In calling up personnel, Zhou relied on those who had been involved in the CCP's unofficial diplomacy of the 1930s and 1940s. Even as an 'illegal' party the CCP had had to practice diplomacy in establishing an internationally recognisable alternative to the official diplomacy of the Nationalist government, thus Zhou was able call up former CCP united front workers, military officers and journalists. Keith (1989). Page 34 [Cite]
See also Table Ministry of Foreign Affairs [↩]
Andrews (1994). Page 5 [↩] [Cite]
Croizier (1965). Page 12 [↩] [Cite]
Zheng (1997). Page 85 [↩] [Cite]
Zheng (1997). Page 88. [Cite]The growing influence of the party can be seen in the table below.

Source: Zheng (1997). Page 90 [↩]
Zang (2004). Page 49 [↩] [Cite]
Wen (2021). Pages 68-69 [↩] [Cite]
Gluckstein (1957). Page 367 [↩] [Cite]
Tiffert (2009). Page 64 [↩] [Cite]
Yet,"...for all the effort the Guomindang put in to partification, large segments of the judiciary deserted it. Before Beiping fell, the presidents of the city’s Local Court and Provincial High Court were both covert CCP collaborators. 84 After 1949, many Republican judges stayed at their posts to serve the CCP. Up until the purges of the 1952-53 Judicial Reform Campaign, 97 of the 120 judges on the Tianjin Municipal People’s Court were former Republican personnel, as were 80 of the 104 judges on the Shanghai Municipal People’s Court, and thirteen of the sixteen judges on the Central-South Branch of the Supreme People’s Court in Wuhan.” Tiffert (2011). Pages 50-51 [↩] [Cite]
Davis (2000). Page 272 [↩] [Cite]
Wakeman (1995). Page 420 [↩] [Cite]
Shen (2002). Page 384 [↩] [Cite]
Gross (2016). Pages 58-59 [↩] [Cite]
Lu (2016). Page 122 [↩] [Cite]
Park (2015). Page 9. He further remarks "The regime, facing the lack of state cadres in street administration, was vigorously seeking activists with the intention of implementing various urban works with their support.29 However, the street mass organizations sprung up rapidly in early years, and enacted ad hoc measures rather than meticulous plans, which provoked serious functional defects. The large number of mass organizations remains nominal, and the activists, who are few in number, should undertake the responsibilities in different mass organizations simultaneously." Page 9. Park notices "A limited number of street activists spent time typically designated for their profession and housework to street works, occupying several positions simultaneously in over 20 sorts of different mass organizations,.. " Page 16 [↩] [Cite]
Lintner (2002). Page 68-69 [↩] [Cite]
U (2004). Page 48. U also remarks staff is recruited from "...“unemployed intellectuals.” They entered the profession as the state tried to address rising urban unemployment, and they included former business owners and landlords, Nationalist officials and agents, and white-collar workers who had been disciplined and dismissed by their employers." Page 49 [↩] [Cite]
Deng (2012). Page 123. For instance, tobacco firms, textile enterprises, ironworks and hospitals are also included. [↩] [Cite]
Deng (2012). Pages 125-126 [↩] [Cite]
Zhong (2013). Page 38 [↩] [Cite]
Solinger (1977). Page Appendix [↩] [Cite]
Vidal (2008). Page 61 [↩] [Cite]
Translation” .. They are selected based on their proximity to the Party, their reliance, their skills or their influence, like Zhang Lan, Huang and Zhang Dongsun Yanpei. The same criteria govern the formation of provincial and municipal governments, the selection of leaders at the various levels of government and the appointment of the heads of trade unions, eight small parties and new professional and cultural associations whose foundations were laid in the summer of 1949,... "[↩]

Road to Common Program