Article 12 of the Common Program
Text
Article 12 of the Common Program

The state power of the People's Republic of China belongs to the people.
The people's congresses and the people's governments of all levels are the organs for the exercise of state power by the people. The people's congresses of all levels shall be popularly elected by universal franchise. The people's congresses of all levels shall elect the people's governments of their respective levels.
The people's governments shall be the organs for exercising state power at their respective levels when the people's congresses of their respective levels are not in session.
The All-China People's Congress shall be the supreme organ of state power. The Central People's Government shall be the supreme organ for exercising state power when the All-China People's Congress is not in session.



According to this Common Program article general elections are to be held on a short term to form a National People’s Congress (NPC). Prior to this general elections there will be elections on local level and a national census. Until then local Representative Conferences of All Circles (RCAC) have to fulfil the tasks of the local people’s congresses. On July 31, 1949 the CC issues an instruction on the election of RCAC. In this order is stipulated “within two or at most three months after the liberation, cities with more than thirty thousand population should promptly hold a conference of representatives from various sectors. This is an important method for the Party and government to maintain close ties with the people.”
Cited in Wu G. H. (2015). An Exploration on Deng Xiaoping’s Thought of Close Ties With the People During His Administration in Southwest China. Canadian Social Science, 11 (9). Page 97

Representative Conferences of All Circles (RCAC)...

On December 4, 1949 the central government promulgated the regulations for the RCAC and states that ultimate approval of the founding of these RCAC lies in Beijing. "Delegates to the Conference of Representatives of the people may be elected from among persons irrespective of nationality, class status, sex, and religious belief, as long as they are opposed to imperialism, feudalism and bureaucratic-capitalism, and support the Common Programme . . ." (Article 3)
Cited in Gluckstein Ygael (1957). Mao’s China economic and political survey. London. Page 344. Most delegates are from social, cultural and functional organization.
In this elections mayor, vice mayors and other officials are elected.
"The primary responsibilities of the township government were: (1) carrying out decisions and orders issued by the higher governmental authorities; (2) implementing decisions made by the township people’s congress and approved by the provincial government; (3) managing and supervising work of various sections of the township government; and (4) conveying the township people’s will and opinions to higher authorities and making recommendations concerning township affairs to higher governmental authorities."
Yang Zhong (2003). Local government and politics in China: Challenges from below. New York. Page 41
In the interim period between the abolition of the military administration and the elections for the provincial and national NPC’s the RCAC have to take over the administration. Mao Zedong remarks "We must endeavour to make a success of the conferences of people from all circles so that people from every walk of life can unite in a common effort. All matters of importance to the people's governments should be submitted to these conferences for discussion and decision. Representatives at these conferences must have the right to express their views fully; any attempt to hinder such expression is wrong.”
Document:06-06-1950 Mao Zedong, “Fight for a fundamental turn for the better in the nation's financial and economic situation”

In reality the participants and voters do not enjoy much freedom. The list of candidates is made up of exactly the number of candidates to be chosen. There is no competition. The CCP controls the founding of the RCAC.
The party top decides to forbid elections in Shanghai for the position of mayor and vice mayor because as the newspaper Jiefang Ribao comments "It has to be admitted that, in nature, this conference is still not of the type of people's conference as approved by the Central Government for Peking.... As a result of the absence of certain objective conditions -the organizational power and the political consciousness of the masses are not yet up to the required standard-this conference can only follow in the footsteps of the first [Shanghai conference, . . . and] not yet assume powers similar to those of the Second People's Conference in Peking .... This conference ... is rather an inevitable extension and development of the first.... Given further time for development, this conference shall naturally assume the character of the people's conference convened in Peking.”
Cited in Steiner H. Arthur (1950b) Chinese communist urban policy. The American Political Science Review, 44, (1). Page 53
A year later the situation has improved and the RCAC elects the military commander Chen Yi as mayor.

Method of election...

In his speech of February 28, 1951 Liu Shaoqi explains the methods of election in Beijing. “Eighty-three per cent of the Representatives of the Peoples' Congress are elected by the people; seventeen per cent are invited after agreement with the various circles; three per cent are nominated by the Government. All the representatives are not elected in the same way. Some of them are elected by the voters' assemblies, which make use of the factories, industrial enterprises, and colleges as units. The representatives of the peasants in suburbs, of business men, industrialists, youth, and women, and the regional representatives, are elected by the electors' assemblies, which exercise the right of voting for the people at large."
Document:28-02-1951 Liu Shaoqi, Speech at the third people's representatives conference of Beijing

The voting is regulated in a special manner secret balloting takes place only in colleges, where the voters are all literate and are experienced in voting. Elsewhere the voting takes place by a show of hands after the list of candidates has been discussed. “The electoral wards were marked out by the City Consultative Council. Big industrial plants and higher educational establishments with several thousand voters were each to elect three delegates. Smaller plants and institutions were allowed one or two delegates, while plants or institutions which had few voters were united for the election of a common delegate. The city districts elected two delegates or more, depending on the size of their population. The electoral commissions were set up in mills and factories, institutions and educational establishments one month before the conference was due to meet.(…)In all, 61 per cent of the delegates to the third Peking all-sections conference were elected by indirect ballot and 22 per cent by direct ballot; 3 per cent were appointed by the city government, and 14 per cent were invited.”
Kovalyov Y. (1953) Development of people’s democracy in China. New Times,16. Page 6
Liu Shaoqi states secret and direct elections are only possible if everyone can write and read. He posits “…in the big cities should have three sessions annually; in the medium-sized and small cities, four sessions; in a province, one session; in a district, two sessions. The Peoples' Congress in villages should meet as often as it is stipulated in the laws.”
Document:28-02-1951 Liu Shaoqi, Speech at the third people's representatives conference of Beijing
Chang remarks “It is stated that the elections up to 1953 of 13,63 7,000 people's representatives to the All-Circle Representative Conferences at all levels, with approximately 75 per cent of the representatives from the worker and peasant classes, marked the consolidation of the political leadership of the proletariat."
Chang Yu-Nan (1956). The Chinese communist state system under the constitution of 1954. The Journal of Politics, 18 (3). Page 523
Zhou Enlai writes in the magazine “People’s China” of October 1950 the following "...a few cities and counties" had convened People's Congresses; all other cities, and 1,707 counties, had organized Representative Conferences of All Circles; and "most" administrative villages had established one or the other."
Cited in Barnett A Doak (1951). Mass political organizations in communist China. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 277. Page 77
At the end of 1950 in 20 provinces and 7 other administrative units and also in the cities Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Nanjing the first meeting or more of the RCAC are convened. In August 1949 the northeast region, which has been under CCP administration for a longer period, has even elected a people’s government: “…commanders begun to relinquish authority to civil party cadres, in part because many units under Lin Piao’s fourth field army and Nieh Jung-chen’s North China field army had been moved south to reinforce continuing military operations.”
Whitson William W. & Huang Chen-hsia (1973). The Chinese high command: A history of communist military politics. 1927-1971. NY. Praeger. Page 521
In the rural districts the CCP has decided “.. two thirds of the membership should be "elected" from "farm workers, poor peasants and new middle peasants," while one-third of the membership was to be "elected" from "old middle peasants and other working elements."
Steiner H. Arthur (1950b) Chinese communist urban policy. Page 52
Deng Xiaoping does not agree with these quotas “On March 6, 1950, regarding the case that among 196 representatives in a county conference, there were 133 peasant representatives, 19 worker representatives, and government representatives for the half of the remaining 44 quotas, he (Deng Xiaoping) criticized at the enlarged meeting of CPC East Sichuan committee that, this conference could not be called as representatives of the people from all walks of life, but peasants’ conference only, which certainly could not unite the masses and differentiate the enemy.”
Cited in Wu G. H. (2015). An Exploration on Deng Xiaoping’s Thought Page 97

The founding of RCAC in the rural areas runs into problems, mainly in south China. In the province of Guangxi only 28 Xians out of 70 in total have elected a RCAC.
Moseley George (1973). The consolidation of the south China frontier. University of California Press. Page 39
See Moseley On page 53 et seq. he descripes the founding of the RCAC in Nanjing.
The party not always succeeds in controlling these RCAC completely
"…profiteers representing various trades first combined and promoted one of their group to serve as a local Business Federation manager and as the standing-committee member of the local all-circles people’s representative conference. Later they bribed the chief of a tax affairs bureau and used his influence to acquire the position of business-section head in the xian people’s government."
Solinger Dorothy J.(1984). Chinese business under socialism: The politics of domestic commerce, 1949-1980. University of California Press. Page 147
Zhou Enlai writes in the above mentioned article also about the function of the RCAC "uniting various strata, parties, groups and nationalities among the people, and enabling both the government to hear the opinions of the people and the people to understand and supervise the work of the government.”
Cited in Barnett A Doak (1951). Mass political organizations in communist China. Page 77
In other words the RCAC are advisory meetings. The majority of the delegates in these RCAC are members of the mass organizations. (See Table 10)
Tabel 10 Mass Organizations in 1949-1954
The same organizations which are represented in the CPPCC. The RCAC are also used in the persecution of counterrevolutionaries. RCAC or enlarged RCAC organize mass rallies against counterrevolutionaries. For example on March 24, 1951 in Beijing, March 29 in Tianjin, April 29 in Shanghai and Wuhan.

National People’s Congress....

On January 13, 1953 Mao Zedong announces the time is ripe to hold general elections for the NPC and to formulate a constitution. Mao Zedong orders the other politburo members to read a list of compulsory readings and constantly intervenes in the formulation of the constitution.
"…military activities on the mainland have already ended, land reform has already been basically accomplished, and people from all walks of life have become organized. Therefore, the conditions are now ripe for convening, according to the stipulation of the Common Program of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the National People's Congress and people's congresses at each local level."
Document:13-01-1953 Mao Zedong Speech to the central people's government council
Only shortly before, Mao Zedong had a different opinion. In October 1952 Liu Shaoqi hands over a letter from Mao Zedong to Stalin in which Mao Zedong proposes to postpone the elections and the formation of a National People’s Congress until after China has basically entered socialism. Stalin disagrees. (see below) Mao Zedong concedes.
Li Hua-yu (2001). The Political Stalinization of China The Establishment of One-Party Constitutionalism, 1948–1954. Journal of Cold War Studies. 3, (2). Page 41
"In mid-1954, Chinese engaged in a wide-ranging deliberation about political and social rights, the obligations of citizenship, slate symbols, political institutions and ideology. Many asked penetrating and frequently prescient questions about law, citizenship, class and political power, and offered provocative suggestions for revision."
Diamant Neil J. & Feng Xiaoca (2015). The PRC’s First National Critique: The 1954 Campaign to “Discuss the Draft Constitution” The China Journal, 73. Page 1. The proposals for a constitution are published in the People’s Daily, on June 16, 1954. During the following three months approximately 150 million people from all around the country participated in a national discussion of the proposals. The drafting commission gathered 1,160,000 questions and opinions during the nationwide discussion.
The big difference between the Common Program and the constitution of 1954 is: “Under the Common Program, the co-existence of both capitalism and socialism was tacitly acknowledged by the CCP. It is in this sense that, compare to the Common Program, the 1954 constitution is more ideologically orientated, for it laid down a socialist state building trajectory in the next ten to twenty years....the 1954 constitution did explicitly reject the possibility of the co-existence of capitalism and socialism in the long run”
Hu Xiuyuan (2014). A Nuanced History: China’s Constitutional Making in the 1950s. Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Legal Studies. University of California, Berkeley. Pages 12-13
Diamant remarks "The reassuring language in the preamble to the Common Program, such as the CCP’s interest in “uniting all democratic classes”, disappeared, while many politically threatening terms were added to describe the socialist transition: the “rich peasant” rural economy would gradually be “eliminated” (xiaomie 消灭); the state reserved the right to “expropriate” (zhengyong 征用) private property. Rights were expanded upon."
Diamant Neil J. & Feng Xiaoca (2015). The PRC’s First National Critique. Pages 11-12

According to article 6 of the organic law of the CPPCC a plenary session of the CPPCC shall be summoned once every three years by the National Committee. The CCP is reluctant to hold such a plenary session or to hold an election for the NPC. The party takes the decisions to postpone the elections. In October 1952 during
During Liu Shaoqi’s visit, he informs Stalin of this delay. Stalin is strongly against this decision. "Stalin restated his position and buttressed it with several points. First, the government of the PRC had not been elected. This allowed its enemies to question its legitimacy, and to accuse it of being nothing more than a selfproclaimed, military dictatorship. Second, the country had no official constitution. The Common Program offered little consolation here since its legitimacy and the legitimacy of all PRC law were clouded by their origin in the equally unelected CPPCC. Third, the multi-party coalition government established by the Common Program presented a grave security risk to the CCP. Many members of the minor parties had close ties to foreign countries, especially the United States and United Kingdom, and could spy on behalf of those hostile powers. Stalin argued that the CCP could solve these problems and deny its enemies propaganda points simply by holding an election in 1954, which it would surely dominate thanks to its deep reservoir of popular support and experience with mass mobilization.”
Tiffert Glenn D. (2009). Epistrophy: Chinese Constitutionalism and the 1950s. In S. Balme & M.W. Dowdle, (Eds.), Building constitutionalism in China. New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan. Page 13. Stalin repeats his arguments, made in July 1949 during the visit of Liu Shaoqi. "Stalin therefore suggested that the Chinese comrades should ensure that they achieved a majority in general elections and formed a one-party government. He advised them to hold the elections in 1954 and to link them to the promulgation of a new constitution, which would have to replace the proposed “Common Program.” This constitution should not be socialist in nature, but should reflect existing social conditions. Both of these, the elections and a new constitution, were also necessary to counteract accusations “by the enemy” that the Communists had come to power by military means in China and lacked legitimacy." Heinzig Dieter(1998). The Soviet Union and Communist China 1945-1950: the arduous road to the alliance. Routledge. Pages 224-225
Back in China Liu Shaoqi convinces Mao Zedong and on December 24, 1952 the meeting of the permanent committee of the CPPCC decides to hold elections. The CCP and the mingzhu dangpai adopt a list of candidates. A committee screens the candidates and in doubt the CCP takes the final decision. The number of candidates does not exceed the number of seats in the NPC. The election of the NPC is an indirect election, the members of the provincial people’s congresses chose the members of the NPC. Deng Xiaoping explains this procedure by saying “… because most people were unfamiliar with national policies and the names of state leaders, subjecting top Party and government functionaries to a popular vote was impossible.”
O'Brien Kevin J. (2001) Villagers, elections, and citizenship in contemporary China. Modern China, 27, (4). Page 411
In reality even this procedure is not followed. On July 5, 1954 the national committee of the CPPCC approves a list of candidates. The provincial people’s congresses chose almost unanimous these ‘authorized ‘candidates. "Due to the full democratic consultations before the voting, the votes garnered by the elected deputies were very concentrated: 9 received 100 per cent of the votes (539 votes); 19 received one vote less than the full vote; 3 received 2 less; 2 received 3 less; while even the lowest one received only 4 less than the full vote. Even greater uniformity was shown in the election of 46 deputies to the National People's Congress by the Kwangtung Provincial People's Congress: 'The result of the voting showed that there was no invalid vote. All the 46 elected deputies were returned on from 99 to 100 per cent of the votes cast.”
Gluckstein Ygael (1957). Mao’s China economic and political survey. Page 347

Representation at the National People's Congress 1954
* Population in thousands. Source: Nelson Daniel N. and White Stephen(1982). Communist Legislatures in Comparative Perspective. Springer. Page 169

Conclusion...

Under pressure of Stalin Mao Zedong decides to hold elections. These elections are completly manipulated.

Literature Notes Documents...


1. Cited in Wu G. H. (2015). An Exploration on Deng Xiaoping’s Thought of Close Ties With the People During His Administration in Southwest China. Canadian Social Science, 11 (9). Page 97 Back
2. Cited in Gluckstein Ygael (1957). Mao’s China economic and political survey. London. Page 344. Most delegates are from social, cultural and functional organization. Back
3. Yang Zhong (2003). Local government and politics in China: Challenges from below. New York. Page 41 Back
5. Cited in Steiner H. Arthur (1950b) Chinese communist urban policy. The American Political Science Review, 44, (1). Page 53 Back
7. Kovalyov Y. (1953) Development of people’s democracy in China. New Times,16. Page 6 Back
9. Chang Yu-Nan (1956). The Chinese communist state system under the constitution of 1954. The Journal of Politics, 18 (3). Page 523 Back
10. Cited in Barnett A Doak (1951). Mass political organizations in communist China. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 277. Page 77 Back
11. Whitson William W. & Huang Chen-hsia (1973). The Chinese high command: A history of communist military politics. 1927-1971. NY. Praeger. Page 521 Back
12. Steiner H. Arthur (1950b) Chinese communist urban policy. Page 52 Back
13. Cited in Wu G. H. (2015). An Exploration on Deng Xiaoping’s Thought Page 97 Back
14. Moseley George (1973). The consolidation of the south China frontier. University of California Press. Page 39 Back
15. See Moseley On page 53 et seq. he descripes the founding of the RCAC in Nanjing. Back
16. Solinger Dorothy J.(1984). Chinese business under socialism: The politics of domestic commerce, 1949-1980. University of California Press. Page 147 Back
17. Cited in Barnett A Doak (1951). Mass political organizations in communist China. Page 77 Back
20. Li Hua-yu (2001). The Political Stalinization of China The Establishment of One-Party Constitutionalism, 1948–1954. Journal of Cold War Studies. 3, (2). Page 41 Back
21. Diamant Neil J. & Feng Xiaoca (2015). The PRC’s First National Critique: The 1954 Campaign to “Discuss the Draft Constitution” The China Journal, 73. Page 1. The proposals for a constitution are published in the People’s Daily, on June 16, 1954. During the following three months approximately 150 million people from all around the country participated in a national discussion of the proposals. The drafting commission gathered 1,160,000 questions and opinions during the nationwide discussion. Back
22. Hu Xiuyuan (2014). A Nuanced History: China’s Constitutional Making in the 1950s. Undergraduate Honors Thesis in Legal Studies. University of California, Berkeley. Pages 12-13 Back
23. Diamant Neil J. & Feng Xiaoca (2015). The PRC’s First National Critique. Pages 11-12 Back
24. Tiffert Glenn D. (2009). Epistrophy: Chinese Constitutionalism and the 1950s. In S. Balme & M.W. Dowdle, (Eds.), Building constitutionalism in China. New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan. Page 13. Stalin repeats his arguments, made in July 1949 during the visit of Liu Shaoqi. "Stalin therefore suggested that the Chinese comrades should ensure that they achieved a majority in general elections and formed a one-party government. He advised them to hold the elections in 1954 and to link them to the promulgation of a new constitution, which would have to replace the proposed “Common Program.” This constitution should not be socialist in nature, but should reflect existing social conditions. Both of these, the elections and a new constitution, were also necessary to counteract accusations “by the enemy” that the Communists had come to power by military means in China and lacked legitimacy." Heinzig Dieter(1998). The Soviet Union and Communist China 1945-1950: the arduous road to the alliance. Routledge. Pages 224-225 Back
25. O'Brien Kevin J. (2001) Villagers, elections, and citizenship in contemporary China. Modern China, 27, (4). Page 411 Back
26 Gluckstein Ygael (1957). Mao’s China economic and political survey. Page 347 Back
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