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

Article 19 of the Common Program

To meet the conditions of this article of the Common Program, the central government established in October 19, 1949 the People’s Supervision Commission (PSC a GAC organ). In August 1948, the North China Provisional People's Congress passed the Organizational Outline of the North China People's Government, which clearly stipulated the establishment of the "North China People's Supervision Institute" as the supervisory organ, and made detailed provisions on its nature, tasks, organization, powers and procedures. Her main task is to control the administration. The PSC of 1949 has its work field at national and local levels and is responsible for supervising whether government agencies and civil servants perform their duties. "...(it) was responsible for investigating cases of administrative malfeasance involving officials who made improper use of state funds, who failed to carry out the decisions and regulations of higher levels, or who departed from state budgets and economic plans."
The importance of this Commission is reflected in the position in the governmental hierarchy, it is put above the ministries. In October 1949, the third meeting of the CPGC approved the candidates for the PSC. Tan Pingshan , member of the rev GMD heads the commission, Liu Jingfan (CCP), Pan Zhenya and Qian Ying (CCP) are vice directors. There are 15 members (including 7 people without party affiliation and 8 members of democratic parties).
However, “Although it was involved in some regular inspections and investigations in 1950 and 1951, the massive mobilization of the Three Anti Campaign overshadowed the commission's routine functions. Ad hoc organizations were set up to lead campaigns such as the Austerity Inspection Commission. Among the 100,000 or so cases of graft/embezzlement that were handled during the Three Anti Campaign, only about 9,000 were discovered by supervisory agencies." The commission was “.. only able to send inspection teams into government offices on a random and ad hoc basis.”
In the same period (November 1949) the Political Bureau made the "Decision on the Establishment of Disciplinary Inspection Committees of the Central Committee and the Party at all levels.(Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. CCDI, a CCP organ). See Below The two (CCDI and PSC) were created at the same time, with the same goals and largely overlapping scopes, and an institutionalized connection channel and connection mechanism were established from the very beginning. After the 2nd National Conference on Organizational Work, which is held from September 21 until October 27, 1953, the design of the PSC is altered to fit the requirements of the First Five-year plan. “A resolution was proposed to the Central Committee to implement a "cadre position list" system, a copy of the Soviet nomenklatura system. Under this system, implemented soon afterward, all party/state cadres were classified into nine categories and put under the supervision of party committees of various sectors and levels) and their management was rationalized and institutionalized. Other complementary systems, such as the personal dossier system and the cadre statistics report system, were also put into place after this meeting.” The commission requires the status of Ministry of Supervision and Qian Ying becomes the head. “By the end of 1953, there were 3,586 supervisory agencies nationwide and an 18,000-strong force of full-time and part-time supervisory officials, plus 78,000 more "people's supervision correspondents." The ministry regularly calls on the Party to file complaints about administrators at all levels.


In 1949, the party has appointed some cadres to handle all complaints and suggestions of the people. In August 1949, the CCP started his own department within the Party secretariat. The government follows the example of the party in March 1951 and starts a department for dealing with complaints and suggestions from the masses. The influx of opinions and criticism is so considerable that Liu Shaoqi on February 28, 1951, decided “…that all levels of the people’s government should establish “special and capable" organs to cope with people’s requests, to answer people’s letters, and to receive people’s visits.” Howland (2017) observes ‘democratic centralism (see Article 15) is an instrument for "…the masses would contribute problems, grievances, solutions and related ideas that CPC leadership would work into CPC policies, and the CPC would take these policies back to the masses for critique and then produce a more refined policy based on these further contributions of the masses—the dialectic would continue to develop. Democracy meant the input of everyone, and centralization meant the consolidation of policies by leadership." For instance, during the years 1951–1954, complaints and accusations constituted a significant portion of the communications received by central government agencies, accounting for 18 percent of the total. Similarly, they made up 15.5 percent of the letters and visits to the GAC, 26 percent of the postbag in six major cities and provinces, and 20 percent to 25 percent of the visits and mail handled by the CCP General Office. Notably, only about one-third of these accusatory complaints were deemed false. While accusations later shifted focus towards corruption, in the 1950s, citizens were encouraged to report counterrevolutionaries, undesirable elements, and religious followers. Consequently, such signals from citizens held substantial informational value in identifying perceived enemies of the regime. The system proved ineffective for hapless peasants who found themselves subjected to the oppression of such cadres, as they discovered that attempting to complain to higher authorities often yielded little benefit. Firstly, village cadres frequently held the power to retaliate against those who lodged complaints. Additionally, higher-level bureaucrats tended to ignore or sideline letters from the public. In the initial months of 1952, Shandong Party and government offices received approximately 100,000 such letters, some of which contained information exposing village "despots," yet they remained largely unaddressed.

Mao Zedong decides to intervene and he wants more staff involved in the handling of the letters and complaints. Shortly afterwards, on June 7, 1951, the central government issued a decree to establish a special unit for complaints, questions, opinions, and accusations at all administrative levels.
Luehrmann (2003) concludes that at the local level these bureaus are barely introduced, however Minzner (2006) writes “They also played a key role in the numerous Chinese political campaigns, serving as a channel for authorities to receive citizen tips and complaints on politically suspect activities.”
In 1953, Mao Zedong was still very unsatisfied with the way the cadres handle the letters of the people. “Take the matter of handling letters from the people, for instance. In some provinces the People's Government has piled up more than seventy thousand pieces of mail without handling them. We still don't know how many letters from the people have piled up in the Party and governmental organs at the levels below the province, but it can be imagined that the quantity is not small. Most of these letters from the people contain problems that they hope we will solve, and many of these ought to be handled promptly because they contain accusations against cadres for acts in complete disregard of the laws. 4
And he calls for action: “Therefore, in 1953, in coordination with Party rectification, Party building, and work in others areas, beginning with the handling of the letters from the people, please carry out an inspection of the circumstances that give rise to bureaucratism and commandism under which elements who violate law and discipline operate, and launch a resolute struggle against them. Wherever there is a typical case of bureaucratism, commandism, or violation of law and discipline it should be widely exposed in the newspapers.”
All newspapers publish letters from readers and they try to solve the problems. For example, in the Beijing Daily, the section of ‘Letters to the Editor’ became one of the most popular parts in the paper. The newspaper received a total of 2855 letters in 1952 and in 1953, a record high of 29,355 letters were received. The most famous example of the influence of the letters is the “Huang Yifeng Affair" "When Huang Yifeng,..., suppressed criticism and retaliated against a student, People's Daily not only exposed this affair but also followed up with an editorial, "Those that suppress criticism are the party's mortal enemies," forcing the Huang Yifeng case to be treated seriously." See also Part 8 . Radio Peking established a listener letters department in August, 1953. See also Article 49.

On August 10, 1952, a channel for information is formalized in the establishment of security and defense committees on a local level. On May 10, 1951, Mao Zedong describes in his speech to the 3rd National Congress on Security, how these committees have to function "...there must be widespread organizing of public security and defense committees among the masses. These committees should be organized by popular elections with the xiang as the unit in the countryside, and in the cities, with the [governmental and Party] organs, schools, factories, and neighborhoods as units. There should be at least three and at most eleven members in each committee. [The committees] must absorb the participation of reliable patriotic people from outside the Party and become United Front organizations for public security and defense. These committees will follow the leadership of the basic-level government and public security organs and will bear the responsibility for helping the People's Government liquidate counterrevolutionaries, guard against traitors and spies, protect the country, and for public order and security."
This system established widespread public security presence across all social levels in the country. Starting in 1952, security defense committees were established in various institutions including factories, schools, villages, and production brigades. Typically composed of three to eleven officers, these committees operated under the direction of city or county public security bureaus. They played a crucial role in mobilizing the masses to implement policies, maintain public order, and identify class enemies. It's worth mentioning that the authority of these committees was constrained during the period from 1954 to 1957. They are, for example, used in the anti-drug campaign which relied on local cadres to inform the public, because the campaign was kept silent for foreign countries (see Article 48). These security committees had both repressive and liberating aspects. While they were under the CCP's leadership and often employed surveillance and repression against street residents who opposed the new regime, their functions extended beyond mere suppression. They played a vital role in ensuring the daily security of street residents, garnering positive support from residents for their efforts in crime prevention and resolution at the neighborhood level. Additionally, activities like the Newspaper Reading Team, initially intended for indoctrination, inadvertently provided access to new information for illiterate residents, which was seen as beneficial to the public welfare and elicited high interest from the residents.
The functioning of the various committees at the local level is not clear, for example, the reporting of offenses has been very messy. “...when reporting cases of administrative misconduct, some local supervision commissions sent them to the Central Commission, others to the administration of the same level, or to the personnel offices of local government, or directly to the State Council.”
In the spring of 1951, Li Weihan already pointed at other difficulties "...relations between Party and non-Party cadres were not as good as they should be. He called on Party cadres to give their non-Party counterparts greater authority and responsibility, to respect their views and opinions, and to seek their criticism of the Party's work. The principles guiding relations between Party and non- Party officials were to be "honesty, mutual respect, mutual study, and mutual assistance." … Party cadres were duty-bound to educate non-Party officials in the provisions of the Common Program, and non-Party cadres were asked to improve their political understanding through ideological study and by participating in the ongoing mass movements of the period, particularly land reform."
Park (2015) mentions "The ineffectiveness and disorder in performing the street works (because they) were characterized by “mangluan” (忙乱“working in rush and getting into a muddle”) phenomena with “five excesses”(五多): excessive organizations (组织多), excessive leaders (领导多), excessive holding of multiple positions (兼职多), excessive meetings (会议多), and excessive survey tables (表报多).31" as main reasons for the partly failure of this system.

On November 9, 1949, the CCP renamed his internal control system from Central Control Commission to Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and Zhu De becomes the head. On that same day, the Politburo decides to establish Party Core Groups within the hierarchy of the Party. The Discipline Commission has the task to implement this structure.
The Party Core Groups will be active on a national level; the ministries and on a local level "Their mission was to "ensure as well as strengthen the Party leadership of the government." The PCGs usually consisted of three to five Party members who assumed leading roles in the government agencies. In a ministry in the State Council, for instance, a PCG would include a minister, vice ministers, and one or two bureau chiefs. “en "Party core groups must see to it that all the decisions by the CCP Central Committee concerning the government work are carried out and that no violations occur." (See Part 7 )
In his or her daily life everybody has to deal with “…many representatives of state and Party power -their small group leader, security defense committee members, residents committee members, mediation committee members, cadres from the street business office, policemen, and Party members and secretaries.”
On March 10, 1953, the Politburo decided to abolish the cooperation of the secretaries of the Party Core Groups on the central administration level "…to avoid the danger of various departments of the government becoming divorced from the leadership of the Party Central Committee," the CCP Politburo decided "to strengthen the Party leadership over the government work… 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.” In the period between 1950 and 1954, the directives of the party and of the government are strictly separated. Only the measurement of September 1951 to reform the intellectuals is a joint decree. See also Article 47.

Harding (1981). Page 79 [↩] [Cite]
(2000). Page 140 See for example RMRB 22-05-1950 Incident at the Shijingshan Iron and Steel Plant [↩] [Cite]
Harding (1981). Page 80 [↩] [Cite]
(2000). Pages 144-145 [↩] [Cite]
(2000). Page 142 [↩] [Cite]
Howland (2017). Page 450 [↩] [Cite]
Dimitrov (2023). Pages 131-132 [↩] [Cite]
Bernstein (1968). Page 19 [↩] [Cite]
Luehrmann (2003). Page 851 [↩] [Cite]
Minzner (2006). Page 115 [↩] [Cite]
Hung (2014). Page 357. [Cite]
See RMRB 02-11-1953 "Push forward the work of handling people's letters"
Hung (2021) remarks "On the whole, the letters were filled with optimism, mostly endorsing state policies and affirming the CCP’s rule. Few, if any, offered what the newspaper originally suggested: criticism of the government’s “shortcomings and mistakes.”" Page 56 [↩] [Cite]
Wang (2006). No Page number [↩] [Cite]
See also Teiwes (1993). Pages 96-98 [↩] [Cite]
Article 1. In order to rouse the masses and to assist the people’s government in preventing treason, espionage, theft, and arson, in liquidating counterrevolutionary activity, and in defending state and public security, it is specially prescribed that security defense committees be universally established throughout the country, in every city after development of the movement for the suppression of counterrevolution and in every rural village after completion of the land reform10-08-1952 Provisional Regulations Governing the Organizational Security Committees [↩]
Tao (1974). Page 727 [↩] [Cite]
“In the case of a city, units are set up, i.e. one unit for factories, one for business, one for schools, one for each block, i.e. This public security committee while it is the smallest yet the most fundamental and effective unit of the Chinese Communist police system. It constitutes the most important link in the chain to control the Chinese people, for the section of personnel is unusually strict and the powers entrusted are enormous.” Yee (1957). Page 85 [↩] [Cite]
"..., it is clear that the Public Security Committee, under the leadership of the RCs, could be characterized by its repressive and surveillant nature vis-à-vis the street residents who were not willing to accept the legitimacy of the new regime.51 However, this organization did not limit its function to the suppression of dissidents. The Committee played crucial roles for daily life security (治安) of the street residents, thereby receiving residents’ positive support in its activities for prevention and addressing of crimes at the neighborhood level.52 ...the Newspaper Reading Team was conceived for indoctrination which had the effect of “brainwashing” on residents, the practices of newspaper reading led by the RCs also served as one of the means for illiterate residents to access new information, which was closely related to “public welfare,” thereby triggering the residents’ high interest". Park (2015). Page 15 [↩] [Cite]
(2000). Page 141 [↩] [Cite]
Harding (1981). Page 41 [↩] [Cite]
Park (2015). Pages 9-10 [↩] [Cite]
Li (2016). "Mao personally edited the draft of the decision to establish the CDI. In his edits, Mao explained that the purpose of establishing the CDI was “to better implement the party’s political line as well as various policies and to preserve confidential information of the party and the nation,” which, apparently, had become a concern because the party had started to engage in more and more collaborative work with non-party members in the coalition government (Party Center, 1949)." Page 6
Li continues "The CCDI was required to report to the Politburo every two months and also as soon as issues of importance arose (CCDI, 1950). Through his edits, Mao also placed the CCDI under the leadership of the Politburo instead of the Central Committee (Party Center, 1949)."Li (2016) Page 8.
Branches of the CCP
Deputy Secretary of the CCDI (1949–1955)
[↩] [Cite]
Zheng (1997). Page 84 [↩] [Cite]
Lubman (1967). Pages 1312-1313 [↩] [Cite]
Zheng (1997). Pages 85 [↩] [Cite]
Zheng (1997). Pages 89-90 [↩] [Cite]

Chapter 2 of Common Program