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

Lee (1991) distinguishes six different groups to ameliorate the cadre shortage. They were (1) existing cadres generally known as "old cadres," (2) young high school or college graduates, (3) activists from mass movements such as land reform (most of them came from the worker and peasant classes), (4) old nonparty intellectuals who were scattered throughout the society, (5) demobilized PLA men, and (6) selected officials from the former Nationalist government.
The latter ones are reeducated. In Beijing, there are three institutions involved in these attempts to alter their attitudes. The soviet experts who helped at these programs were not satisfied with the ‘soft’ approach of these former GMD officials and were not convinced they really had changed their attitude and behavior.
The CCP also tries to solve the shortage problem of capable officials by starting a training program for students on special training facilities. In the spring and summer of 1949, almost 50.000 students have followed a training to serve as civil officials in south China.
Gao (2004) remarks: "These new cadres had neither received systematic political training nor experienced the cruel revolutionary war. The city leaders hoped that the southbound cadres and these new recruits would make up the majority of all the government institutions, with the retained GMD employees comprising less than 30 percent. Actually, the CCP cadres made up a majority only in the Bureaus of Public Security (80 percent) and finance (60.2 percent), while in the offices of health, education, labor, public projects, industry and commerce, and internal affairs, they were in the minority (19–36 percent)" There is a big difference between the party cadres of north China and south China. Mainly the northern party cadres are illiterate and have a rural background. The cadres of the south, namely, from Guangdong, are from the city and have had an education.
"But as the CCP expanded into Guangdong after 1949, the educational profile of the party in Guangdong was gradually reversed. The lower echelons began to fill up with illiterate activists. At the same time, the indigenous leadership of intellectuals and students who had joined the party during the Japanese occupation was purged in the early 1950s. Many of its leading members were subsequently replaced by northern cadres more loyal to the partycenter."
On the local administration level, the CCP has big problems to find capable men. An unknown upward mobility is progressing. Laborers and peasants attain economic and or political positions, which they could never had achieved under the GMD regime, let alone during the empire. Most of them are not qualified for their job, their only qualification is their social background. The method to keep non-communist and ex-GMD party cadres on their jobs is, in the eyes of many CCP members, a big mistake and not justified. "Worried reports from Guangdong in 1951 spoke of illiterate village cadres becoming increasingly resentful of the fact that intellectuals from the old society were rapidly assuming positions of power purely on the basis of their superior educational qualifications. They blamed not necessarily the intellectuals, but the communist party for forsaking its moral obligation and historical debt to peasants."
There are also problems with recruitment in other areas. For example there is a shortage of performers who are capable of working for propaganda teams. Zhao (2014) notices: "Performers were picked up randomly from the streets, … They even recruited two teenage girls and an old woman who had juggled plates on the street. ... Another cadre brought in a former singing girl from a brothel […] They all were counted as formal cadres who benefitted from our supply system (in-kind payment system) However, such a propaganda team was too costly and the performance of rural ballads was not welcomed in the ‘foreign’ port city (Qingdao)"
Mao Zedong has to explain this tactics to his old party members: "... Don't think you deserve preferential treatment because of your achievements in war. You must know that one democratic personage is possibly worth an army. By winning one Li Jishen over to our side, we probably saved the lives of twenty or thirty thousand comrades and won the military victory one or two years ahead of time .... Now we will simply do it this way; this is also the only way we can do it, whether you approve of it or not." Li Jishen, Fu Zuoyi, Chen Mingren,
Wei Lihuang
Wei Lihuang (1897-1960) Former GMD General. Fled to Hong Kong, came back to the mainland in 1955
Cheng Qian
Cheng Qian (1882-1968) Former GMD General. Chairman of the Government of Hunan Province 1952-1955
Tang Shengzhi
Tang Shengzhi (1889-1970) Former GMD General. A commander and governor in Hunan after 1949.
were some of the former GMD generals who got high positions in the new regime.
There are complaints about "…ex-Kuomintang officials, who were trying to be more Communist than the Communist, were very much worse than any of the regular Communist." Not all GMD cadres are lucky. Many of them are imprisoned and sent to Fushun re-education camp in Liaoning or executed in 1950 or 1951. For example, the generals
Gan Qingchi
Gan Qingchi (1900-1951) arrested in March, executed in December
Gong Xianxiang
Gong Xianxiang (1900-1951) arrested in March and executed as Counter Revolutionary in 1951
Gan Fang
Gan Fang (1895-1951) arrested in March, executed as Counter Revolutionary in December1951
. Others are put under house arrest and several of them committed suicide, for example
Chen Guang
Chen Guang (1905-1954) house arrest 1950-1954
. Middle to low ranking GMD officers, special agents, and foot soldiers were the one suffered the most. CCP considered them untrustworthy. Most of them were executed in the "Zhen Fan" period from 1950 - 1951. In the period of 1950-1954, about 400 GMD generals decease several of them in a natural way, some of them during battle and a couple of them as communist spies. The rest of them die in the hands of the PLA. See the table below which indicates death rate of GMD generals during the period of 1950-1954.

Fig. 8.1 Death rate GMD generals during the period of 1950-1954
For example: On December 12, 1950, in Yuanling, a public trial was organized for tens of thousands of people and a meeting was held to execute Wang Yuanhua, Pan Zhuangfei, and Zhou Zhenhuan. They were all 3 GMD regiment commander and had received "life safety guarantee"

Chen Yun writes in a letter to his nephew that "You must remember that communists have only the same rights as common people do under the laws of the state, and, moreover, they should be exemplary in observing these laws the activities of members of a revolutionary party should have the sole purpose of serving the people: there must be no thoughts of reward."
On November 8, 1949, Chen Yun talks to party cadres about contradictions between the old and the new cadres "The crux of the matter is the relations between veteran and new cadres. The "new" cadres are afraid the “old" cadres don’t trust them, and the "old" cadres, for their part, are afraid the newcomers may not be very reliable." Further on he tells them "Veteran comrades should not judge east China by the standards of northeast China of a few years back, and comrades from east China should not cling to old attitudes about the Northeast."
U (2012) shows "...the enviable layers of privilege which the regime extended to the non-Party élites. This group includes leaders of minor political parties, renowned intellectuals and other notables, many of whom had cooperated with the CCP in overthrowing Nationalist rule. These individuals commonly had access to state leaders and high-level assemblies, policy information and debates, choice appointments, state-sponsored travel and residence, and other benefits. The deference, honors and authority, as well as knowledge, connections and resources which the élites acquired through the united front tended to draw them personally, intellectually and even emotionally to the regime, even though other elements of the united front (for example, political re-education and loss of wealth) were experienced as onerous or punitive."

The social background of a party member in acquiring a job is the most important factor. The urban members are preferred over those with only rural experiences
"The largest pool for political cadres was that of worker and peasant activists. They were politically reliable because they were recruited from the poorest sector, which had benefited most from the Communist revolution. But their lack of education was a drawback. Nonetheless, the regime justified their promotion to cadre positions for the reason that "once on the job, their rich practical experience and firm class standpoint enable them to learn administrative practice quickly. This group filled vacancies at the lower levels, usually serving in their native locality. Their career pattern leading to the cadre position was first as an activist in the mass movement, then joining the party, and finally occupying a leadership position in a new party-state institute." In 1949, 13% of the administrators are members of the CCP.
The decision made during the CCP March (1949) Plenum in which the emphasis of the revolution has shifted from the rural areas to the city causes many problems. "Far from embracing its rural revolutionary past, in 1949 the party criticized rural characteristics and work methods and preferred people with urban expertise over what it called “purely village-born cadres. Throughout the 1950s party doctrine still mandated that cities would lead villages."
Lin (2004) remarks "The millions of peasants who had joined the rank and file of the revolutionary army became the main source of cadres for the state bureaucracy after the victory of the revolution in 1949 (Song 1994). They have worked, lived, and developed personal networks in urban administrative centers while maintaining social ties with their relatives in rural areas. Such ties provide a potential bridge for the latter to explore access to opportunities and resources outside their local social spaces. The massive absorption of rural laborers into the urban work force in the 1950s further increased the social networks between urban and rural areas." In Tianjin problems arise between cadres from different backgrounds. "Officials from villages who had served the revolution in the countryside clashed with young urban cadres and other underground party members from Tianjin."
This shift results in a gradual change of CCP’s focus on the working class and less on the peasantry. The CCP considers itself as the political party of the Chinese working class; the advanced and organized force of the working class. However even in 1951 the majority of the party members exist of peasants. North China, which has served as a major communist base during the civil war and where the party therefore has long been entrenched in the countryside, about 1,500,000 of its 1,800,000 members in that region (as of mid-1951) are of peasant origin. Peng Zhen states in 1951: "a political party of the working class may overlook the social composition of its membership; that it may neglect to fully utilize all possible conditions to improve its social composition, that is, to increase the proportion of workers among its membership." and Thomas (1953) concludes: "It is clear that party leaders will continue to be uncomfortable as long as this disparity between theory end reality continues."

On Hainan conflicts arise between communist guerrilla leaders and the newly arrived communist cadres. "By 1951, a flood of “southbound cadres” arrived on Hainan to replace local cadres, whose local connections allegedly made them too soft on the island’s landlords and big capitalists. Mutual resentment grew between the old revolutionaries of the Hainan Column and the newly arrived southbound cadres. Many of the new cadres were young urban intellectuals or even students, sent into towns and villages to overturn the local order." These conflicts in Hainan had a historical background as Murray (2011) explains: "The Hainan Communists were dedicated to the national revolution, and through their struggle, they had also sunk roots deep into the island’s soil. The mainland Communists had been able to supply little or no support through much of that struggle, and the Hainan Column had turned to the island’s indigenous Li population in an alliance that allowed them to survive in Hainan’s mountainous southern interior. When the mainland Communist leadership had ordered the Hainan Column to abandon the island in 1946, and withdraw their forces north to Shandong, or southeast to Vietnam, the Hainan command responded that this was impossible, and that they respectfully refused to obey the orders."
Brown (2012) observes the situation in Tianjin "In interactions between rural cadres (rucheng or jinshi renyuan), underground party members (dixia dangyuan), and retained bureaucrats (liuyong renyuan), many rural officials, although numerically superior, were first embarrassed and then shunted aside as urban work progressed in Tianjin." He continues "Poor coordination between rural takeover cadres and underground party members led to problems of mistrust and mistaken identity, which disappointed urban agents who felt that their sacrifices under Nationalist repression had not been properly recognized.9"
The distribution of the goods seized, houses, cars, etc. also brings a lot of uneasiness
"...the distribution was not egalitarian. City leaders moved to villas at the lakeshore; district leaders got big houses downtown; and cars, special meals, servants, and other privileges were exclusively available to the top leaders. But the living conditions of most southbound cadres were worse than those of the old employees who had been retained. In addition, many formal occasions required that superiors and subordinates keep a polite distance. Despite the liberation, the old urban elite continued their normal lives, which were unjustifiably luxurious in the eyes of the peasant cadres."
The cadres staying behind in the rural regions "…felt neglected and undervalued, resulting in a morale crisis of considerable proportions and accentuating tendencies towards passivity and withdrawal."
Some cadres are accused of making “independent kingdoms”. They refuse to accept the supervision and control of the party center. An well known example is
Huang Yifeng
Huang Yifeng (1906-1988) arrested in March 1951 and in January 1953, he was severely punished by expulsion from the party and revocation of all administrative positions.
"The belief that one was entitled to special privileges because of past contributions extended well beyond Huang (Yifeng)’s exaggerated view of himself. The lenient handling of the case in its earlier stages was apparently due to the misplaced trust of higher authorities in a cadre with a long record of revolutionary service. Moreover, the tenacity of these attitudes was reflected in the sympathy some cadres had for Huang (Yifeng)even after he had been subjected to extensive criticism. The appearance of sentiments such as “it is going too far that an important cadre is purged as a result of a student’s criticism .. indicate how deeply ingrained notions of status and special privilege were.40 The tendency of veteran revolutionaries in particular to believe such status and privilege were theirs as a matter of right was a major cause of tensions among different segments of the elite in the early post-liberation period."
In his "On inner party struggle" Liu Shaoqi gives several examples of so-called "unprincipled struggle within the party" and he gives 5 reasons why they exist. "First, the theoretical level of our comrades within the Party is in general very low and their experiences in many respects are not yet sufficient...." "Second, there are many petty-bourgeois elements in the Party..." "Third, the democratic life within the Party is abnormal. The style of discussing questions mutually and objectively among the comrades has not yet been established... " "Fourth, opportunists have smuggled themselves into the Party and certain opportunistic psychology exists in the minds of part of our comrades. To show how well they have been "bolshevized," they often try deliberately to be "Left," thinking that "Left" is better than Right. Or they attack others so as to raise their own prestige." and "Fifth, Trotskyite traitors and counter-revolutionary elements have smuggled themselves into the Party, and they seek to undermine the Party by taking advantage of inner-Party struggle."
Straus (2002) states there is however, another reason for discontent with the ‘genuine’ cadres, "…;activists and lower-level cadres in the CCP had spent 1949-1950 in a state of confusion and dismay about what the revolutionary regime had failed to do. In relaxing its emphasis on transformation and class struggle in favor of orderly takeover and economic stabilization, the new government had deliberately included sorts (including Nationalist government bureaucrats, capitalists, and intellectuals) who were, if not actively counterrevolutionary, then at least by their lights "backward in political consciousness" and patently undeserving of status and reward in the new order. The rank and file of lower- level "regular cadres” (yiban ganbu) passed over for promotion resented having to work in such close quarters with, and sometimes take orders from, holdover officials they considered to be counterrevolutionary.16"
Cadres also resented the privileges intellectuals received "For cadres, who had undeniably lacked the opportunities afforded many urban, middle-class intellectuals, the national government’s plans to rehabilitate most intellectuals must have felt like a betrayal of its egalitarian objectives. Evidence suggests that intellectuals tended, despite their issues, to enjoy better standards of living than most workers."
To minimize these conflicts, the CCP uses the possibilities of some articles from the Common Program. Particularly, Article 7: the suppression of all counter-revolutionary activities and Article 18 which gives options to punish corruption, forbid extravagance, and oppose the bureaucratic working-style which alienates the masses of the people.

Lee (1991). Pages 49-50 [↩] [Cite]
Stiffler (2007). Page 296 [↩] [Cite]
Galula (1964). Page 65. [Cite]
"In the early 1950s Chinese leaders tried to improve the cultural and technical standards of the existing cadre corps by setting up an "intensive middle-school program specially designed for the workers and peasant cadres" as well as cadre training institutes. China had about 347 cadre training institutes —34 managed by central organs and 313 by provincial and municipal governments" Lee (1991). Page 68 [↩] [Cite]
Gao (2004). Page 102 [↩] [Cite]
Peterson (1991). Page 60 [↩] [Cite]
Peterson (1991). Page 53 [↩] [Cite]
Zhao (2014). Page 169 [↩] [Cite]
Kau (1986). Page 53 [↩] [Cite]
Lindsay (1950). Page 29 [↩] [Cite]
U (2012). Page 34. "The Party also arranged tours, banquets and evening entertainment...leaders of minor parties and other notables enjoyed élite treatment at the PRC founding ceremony." Page 36 [↩] [Cite]
Lee (1991). Page 53 [↩] [Cite]
Lee (1991). Page 59 [↩] [Cite]
Brown (2012). Page 17 [↩] [Cite]
Lin (2004). Page 70 [↩] [Cite]
Brown (2012). Page 17 [↩] [Cite]
Cited in Thomas (1953). Page 72 [↩] [Cite]
Murray (2011). Page 5 [↩] [Cite]
Murray (2011). Page 4. [Cite] Murray also notices "A relatively high proportion of the Hainan fighting force was women, and they were expected to return to their homes and start families. This was hard to take, especially considering the self-proclaimed progressive New Democracy and professed gender parity of the Communist regime in Beijing, notably in the Marriage Law of 1950. The fighting women of Hainan protested the order to go from being Communist spies, soldiers, and field doctors one day, to housewives the next." Murray (2017). Page 164 [↩] [Cite]
Brown (2012). Page 17. He continues "Poor coordination between rural takeover cadres and underground party members led to problems of mistrust and mistaken identity, which disappointed urban agents who felt that their sacrifices under Nationalist repression had not been properly recognized." Page 18 [↩] [Cite]
Gao (2004). Page 103-104 [↩] [Cite]
Bernstein (1968). Page 8 [↩] [Cite]
Teiwes (1993). Page 98. [Cite]
See also for the The Huang Yifeng Affair (from Beijing Daily, 21 August, 2006) cited See also RMRB 03-12-1951 "Chaos in Shanghai East China Transportation College" [↩]
Liu Shaoqi(1952). On inner party struggle. Page 29-38. Although this is a lecture delivered on July 2, 1941 at the party school for Central China, it still is of importance after 1949 since it is published in 1950. 02-07-1941 Liu Shaoqi "On inner party struggle" [↩]
Strauss (2002). Page 85 [↩] [Cite]
Yeager (2021). Page 181 [↩] [Cite]

Road to Common Program