Article 16 of the Common Program
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Article 16 of the Common Program

The jurisdiction of the Central People's Government and the local People's Governments shall be defined according to the nature of the various matters involved, and shall be prescribed by decrees of the Central People's Government Council so as to satisfy the requirements of both national unity and local expediency.


Mao Zedong expresses his opinion on jurisdiction on several times. On December 2, 1949, he states "These organizational regulations are precisely the general laws appropriate to the current period. The various local people's governments, although they may add [to these regulations] in accordance with concrete conditions [in their various localities], must implement them without exception... China is a big country; only if we establish powerful local organs at such a level can things be done well. What ought to be united, must be united; and there should by no means be any separate governance, each doing what he thinks is best. However, there must be integration between [the notion of] unification and [the notion of] discretionary arrangements according to local conditions. Under the regime of the people, the historical conditions of the past, in which regional occupation by the feudalist forces has been generated, have been eliminated. The division of labor between the Center and the localities will be to our advantage and will in no way harm us."
Document: 2-12-1949
On August 12, 1953, he explains "Centralization and decentralization are in constant contradiction with each other. Decentralism has grown since we moved into the cities. To resolve this contradiction all the principal and important issues must first be discussed and decided on by the Party committee before its decisions are referred to the government for implementation."
Document: 12-08-1953
And 6 months earlier, he remarks "The “five excesses” consist of an excess of assignments, an excess of meetings and training courses, an excess of documents, written reports and statistical forms, an excess of organizations, and an excess of side jobs for activists. These problems have existed for a long time; with regard to some of them the Central Committee has issued directives to Party committees at various levels, urging them to give such problems proper attention and find solutions. But far from being solved, the problems are becoming more and more serious. This is because the issue has never been systematically raised in its totality and, what is more important, no struggle has ever been waged against decentralism and bureaucracy on the part of the leading Party and government organs at the five levels — central, greater administrative area, provincial (municipal), prefectural and county. For, generally speaking, the “five excesses” in the districts and townships are not a local product but stem from above and are the consequences of decentralism and bureaucracy existing to a serious degree in the leading Party and government organs at the county level and above."
Document: 19-03-1953
Altehenger (2018) distinguishes 3 aspects of law dissemination under the CCP from earlier efforts in China. "First, party authorities insisted that learning about laws was a matter of class consciousness. Because laws were presented as an expression of the will of the People,24 materialized with the help of the CCP, people were expected to embrace laws emotionally and to support and uphold the party-state that had helped create the laws." The second method was the simplification of laws and legal language "Laws were written to be read widely and to be flexible, even if that made their application in practice much more complicated. Third, the new regime decided to combine law dissemination with techniques of mass education and mass mobilization."
Altehenger (2018). Page 7
Popularization and dissemination of law was done by extensive propaganda. Drama, opera, and film were the means to reach the public. Remote districts were visited by performing troupes. These performances showed the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and between ‘lawful’ and ‘unlawful’. The Marriage law was well suited for this kind of ‘education’. Most familiar old operas were used to portray the ‘old marriage system’, of which most of them did not have a happy ending.
Althenger (2018) concludes that censors gained practice identifying improper ways of talking about the Marriage Law in publications, novels and performances. "Over time, all of this made it more diffcult to separate public talk about family and marital lives from the offcial language of the Marriage Law.129 Within the directed public sphere of the 1950s, the language of the law strengthened its hold.130 People could no longer find reassurance in any of the educational materials or in the discussions that any behavior that did not conform to the political interpretations of the basic spirit of the law—however that term was interpreted locally—would enjoy legal and political protection."
Altehenger (2018). Page 124
According to the Common Program, the central government is the highest body of state power when the NPC is not in session. The People's Republic of China is a unitary state, the central government defines the division of jurisdiction between the central and local administration. The jurisdiction of the central government is written down in the “Organic Law of the PRC Central People’s Government” and “…defines the central power as enacting and interpreting laws, formulating domestic and foreign policies, and appointing the leaders of the state, regions and provinces. But the jurisdictions of the local authorities are not specified."
Dong (2007). Page 8
In practice, since the Central Government is only an executive assembly with no implementation and enforcement infrastructure and resources, it has to delegate most of its decision-making powers to the GAC. The Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, despite its independent status vis a vis the executive branch endowed by the Common Program, are in reality supervised by the Political-Legal Committee of the GAC, a mandate given personally by Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Central Government, and Zhou Enlai, the premier of the State Council. This means that the GAC are exercising de facto executive, judicial, and prosecutorial powers, as well as, to some extent, legislative power.
Li (2019). Page 4
See also Article 17
As seen above in Article 14, the 6 great administrative bureaus are put out of action in 1954 and at the same time two resolutions are passed, one regulating the provinces' and districts' (ch'ü) organs, and one increasing the number of central organs. After the abolition of the 6 bureaus ”… the provincial administrations were elevated from secondary to primary level, and put under the direct leadership of the central government. For this, administrative regions at the provincial level were combined, with all the cities under the jurisdictions of the provinces except Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai which were directly under the Central Government. As a result, the number of provinces decreased from 53 in 1953 to around 30 in 1955.”
Kin (2009). Page 530
The creation of the State Planning Commission in August 1953 is the hallmark of the call for increased centralization and unification in planning.