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

Article 16 of the Common Program

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."
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."
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."

Three aspects of law dissemination under the CCP differed from earlier efforts in China can be found. First, party authorities emphasized that learning about laws was a matter of class consciousness. Laws were portrayed as expressions of the will of the people, materialized with the assistance of the CCP. As a result, individuals were expected to emotionally embrace laws and to support and uphold the party-state that had contributed to their creation. Second, the simplification of laws and legal language was implemented. Laws were crafted to be accessible to a wider audience and to be flexible, even if this complexity made their practical application more challenging. Third, the new regime opted to integrate law dissemination with techniques of mass education and mass mobilization. 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. See Article 45
Althenger (2018) concludes that censors gained practice identifying improper ways of talking about the Marriage Law in publications, novels and performances. Gradually, this integration made it increasingly challenging to distinguish discussions concerning family and marital affairs from the official discourse outlined in the Marriage Law. In the guided public discourse of the 1950s, the language of the law solidified its influence. Individuals could no longer derive reassurance from educational resources or discussions indicating that behaviors diverging from the political interpretations of the fundamental essence of the law would receive legal and political protection, regardless of how this concept was interpreted at the local level.

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."
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. See also Article 17
As seen 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' (Qu) 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." The creation of the State Planning Commission in August 1953 is the hallmark of the call for increased centralization and unification in planning.

Dong (2007). Page 8 [↩] [Cite]
Altehenger (2018). Page 7 [↩] [Cite]
Altehenger (2018). Page 124 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2019). Page 4 [↩] [Cite]
Kin (2009). Page 530 [↩] [Cite]

Directive of the GAC and the Supreme People’s Court regarding the speedy processing of accumulated cases. October 13, 1950.
 03-11-1950 Directive of the GAC regarding the people’s judicial work
 03-09-1951 Provisional Regulations Governing the Organization of people's court
 03-09-1951 Provisional Regulations Governing the Organization of the Office of the People’s Procurator General' of the CPG
 03-09-1951 General rules for the organization of local people’s procuratorates at all levels
Directive of the Supreme People’s Court, the Supreme People’s Procuracy, and the Ministry of Justice to the effect that the people’s judicial organs in the land reform areas must participate energetically in the work of the people’s tribunals. November 16, 1951.
Resolution of the Second National Judicial Conference. April 5, 1953.
Directive of the Ministry of Justice regarding enforcement of the resolutions of the Second National Judicial Conference. September 10, 1953.
 25-02-1954 Provisional general rules of the PRC for the organization of people’s mediation committees

Chapter 2 of Common Program