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

Article 20 of the Common Program

Relation China and USA
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The war against the Japanese troops and the civil war resulted in 4 different armies of the PLA: the Northwest Field Army, the Central Field Army, the East Field Army and the Northeast Field Army. Each army had his own control and commando system, his own values and norms of discipline, and his own way of fighting. For example Su Yu , the commander of the East army, used guerrilla tactics. Liu Bocheng , the commander of the Central army, used his experience from SU training. Mao Zedong had introduced this decentralized command during the campaigns against the Japanese invaders. "The more extensive the area, the more complex the situation and the greater the distance between the higher and the lower levels, the more advisable it becomes to allow greater independence to the lower levels in their actual operations and thus give those operations a character conforming more closely to the local requirements, so that the lower levels and the local personnel may develop the ability to work independently, cope with complicated situations, and successfully expand guerrilla warfare."
In the decisive period of the Civil War, Mao Zedong remarks "Carrying out a large- scale war requires implementing commands with a high degree of unity, which requires construction of a unified command structure to coordinate and command every unit’s war operations, as well as to take responsibility for the CCP Central Committee and the Central Military Commission.’" In 1949, upon the establishment of the PRC, the PLA comprised over five million soldiers, predominantly consisting of light infantry. Notably, the PLA was devoid of branches like a navy or air force, with only a minor fraction of ground forces specializing in combat arms like artillery or armored units. Furthermore, there was an absence of a tradition in combined arms operations necessitating coordinated actions among various combat arms within the ground forces.
Field Armies

In November 1948, the PLA leadership initiated a reorganization of the army aimed at enhancing control and consolidating unity within the PLA. This marked the first instance where the PLA outnumbered the GMD army numerically. However, despite this numerical advantage, deficiencies persisted in terms of equipment, notably in artillery, armor, air power, and transportation. Subsequently, on January 15, 1949, the armies were renamed as the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Field Army, facilitating the integration of former GMD soldiers into the PLA ranks. The First Field Army has 9 armies (1-9) of which 6 are original PLA personnel and 2 have recruits of 'defected' GMD troops. The Second Field Army has 10 armies (10-19), all stemming from their own ranks. The Third Field Army has 18 armies (20-37). 4 of them are recruits from GMD troops. The Fourth Field Army has 21 armies (38-58). From the 50th, all are recruited from GMD militaries, sympathizers, and militias.
Fig. 20.1 PLA Field Armies

The leadership decides not only to reorganize the PLA into field armies, which have the task for national defense, but also established the Chinese People’s Public Security Forces (CPPSF) for maintaining domestic order. Zhou Enlai explains the function of the latter "...maintain local public order, deter the activities of the enemy and ensure the country’s border defense."
On March 5, 1954, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Railway Corps was formally established. Its predecessor was the PLA’s Railway Corps which on May 16, 1949, was placed under the leadership of the Ministry of Railways. By 1954, the PLA’s Railway Corps contained some 80,000 people. These actions signaled the evolution of a regionally oriented railway military unit into a national entity, tasked with the crucial responsibility of ensuring seamless transportation of military resources and the mobilization of troops nationwide.
December 24, 1949, Kovalev (Stalin's personal representative in China) reports to Stalin on the situation in China and he warns "The number of the Guomindang-ists, for example, in some military units of generals Chen Yi and Liu Bocheng reaches 70-80%, at the same time former Guomindang-ists are not dispersed among the tried cadre units of the People’s Liberation Army, but are kept in their ranks almost in the same shape, in which they were captured. A small number of command political workers from the cadres of the People’s Liberation Army were appointed to these former Guomindang units. A situation like this conceals a serious danger from the point of view of stability and commitment of the military forces to the cause of the revolution." In general, around 30 percent of PLA soldiers originate from a GMD background. These individuals typically fall into several categories: former Nationalists who remain apolitical and are willing to fully embrace their current political leadership as long as they can pursue their military careers; others who, while harbouring reservations about communism, perceive no feasible alternative to staying in the military; some who are relatively open to aligning with Communist ideology; and finally, professional soldiers whose allegiance primarily lies in personal aspirations rather than strong political affiliations, viewing the army merely as a means to fulfil specific personal objectives. Starting in 1946, the PLA initiated "Anti-Civil War Speaking-Bitterness Meetings" aimed at reshaping the mindset of GMD prisoners. Additionally, during the extensive New Style Army Reorganization campaign of 1948, the approach of "troops and civilians speaking together" was implemented. See Article 21.
During the Korean war, many ex-GMD soldiers are sent to the front. See Article 54. The Fiftieth Army, formerly known as the Nationalist Sixtieth Army, retains its original senior officers but now includes political officers. This army has been heavily engaged in combat for the Chinese Communist government, and it is believed that fewer than 20 percent of its initial members have survived. From the outset, the Communists appeared to assess its loyalty and regarded it as expendable throughout its service. The North China Field Army is under direct control of the Headquarters of the PLA in Beijing and is stationed in and around the capital. It is often referred to as the Fifth Field army.
One of the consequences of the reorganization of the PLA is the lack of opportunities for women to join or to make careers in the army.

Almost 50% of the PLA soldiers are recruited in the Northeast, the East, and North. These areas were occasionally or for a longer time under the control of the PLA. The Southwest, Northwest and Central South have less recruited (18%) because these Regions came later under the control of the PLA. Under these recruited are women who are active in a wide range of combat and noncombat military roles In summary, professional officers can be divided into two primary categories. First, there are the young recruits who joined the army or rose to officer ranks after 1949, receiving training and professional development during the army's modernization period. These officers likely occupy lower-level positions within the command structure. Second, there are the veteran guerrilla officers who were reassigned to specialized military roles in the early fifties. They have since played crucial roles in addressing the complexities of the modernized army, often holding positions within the General Staff and assuming important command posts.

U (2019) describes the recruitment "Soon after the takeover of Shanghai had started, the East China Military and Political University.. sought to enroll at its Suzhou and Nanjing campuses 30,000 people aged between 18 and 28 with at least a junior high education.27 The PLA also wanted 3,000 “intellectual youths” from Shanghai, individuals between 18 and 30 years of age with that same education, to join the Southward-bound Service Corps and assist in propaganda, mobilization, and other tasks vital to the takeover of other cities or Regions.28 Many other opportunities for intellectual youths to join the PLA followed, with age restrictions varying across recruiting organizations." Recruitment during the Korea War is done by mass campaigns. At mass meetings, people are asked to volunteer. A committee visits the parents of those who refused to volunteer, to persuade them to send their sons to Korea. When this pressure failed, a struggle meeting is sometimes held to put even more pressure on the reluctant. From 1950 onward, enrolment efforts were particularly targeted towards attracting students, especially those specializing in technology and medicine, as well as other medical professionals, to bolster national defense capabilities. In December 1950, in response to this need, the Central Committee issued a directive to mobilize 120,000 young students and workers within a year to enrol in military academies. This initiative aimed to cultivate a new generation of military experts proficient in modern military technologies.
Hou (2008) notices a trend caused by the mutual aid and cooperative movement in late 1952 and the start of 1953 (see Article 29). "…recruiting for the army was getting much easier; peasants joined the army with enthusiasm. “In past years, it had been difficult to recruit peasants into the army; this year, it is difficult to persuade them to go back home (from the recruiting station).”4 This dramatic turn, probably partly due to the waning of the Korean War, indeed reflected peasants’ pessimism about their future in the countryside"

In October 1949, the CCP changed the (CMC) from a party body to an organ within the CPGC, which controls the PLA. See Chart 3 General organization of the PLA and Background CMC members. In 1954, it is reformed to the National Defense Council.

The CPGC convenes 6 times a year and is unable to control the CMC, neither can the GAC, because it is at the same level within the hierarchy. The CMC sets military policy and strategy, it is also involved in budgeting, training, military technology, command of forces, militia work, approving promotions of officers at division level and above, and political indoctrination. In the six years following 1949, all military intelligence and local (political) intelligence departments were overseen by the PLA. Between 1950 and 1955, these departments were referred to as the CMC Liaison Department. During this time, Zhou Enlai was responsible for intelligence operations. He spearheaded the CCP’s covert intelligence efforts, insisting on substantial resource allocation across various intelligence sectors, including human intelligence, technological intelligence, military tactical intelligence, strategic intelligence, and foreign intelligence. The primary aim of these intelligence activities was not to export revolution, but to actively defend against potential threats. Mao Zedong heads the CMC and he is assisted by 7 vice chairmen, of whom 6 have a CCP background and Cheng Qian , a former GMD general who was once on the ‘most wanted’ list of the PLA. The members of the CMC are from the PLA and Rev. GMD, in this way, the United Front policy is guaranteed. The non-CCP members are all members of a subcommittee, which is founded on October 21, 1949, and has the assignment to study the national defense plans. This subcommittee was never heard from again.
Fig. 20.2: PLA Leadership structure 1949-1954

During the draft of the first Five-Year plan (Outline of the Five-Year Plan for Military Development) in mid-1952, Peng Dehuai became responsible for the daily military affairs on behalf of the CCP on July 19, 1952. Effectively, Peng Dehuai oversees all aspects of military concerns. Su Yu, the deputy chief of the General Staff, proposes that the CMC first has to determine China’s strategic guideline before drafting any development plans for the first Five Year plan. The significance of Mao Zedong's role remains paramount. Since the establishment of the PRC in 1949, Mao prioritized securing unwavering loyalty from the PLA, particularly focusing on security forces and army units responsible for safeguarding the capital. Mao's authority over the PLA hinged on his exclusive power in appointing army officers. During the early 1950s, all appointments of PLA officers at the rank of army corps commander and higher necessitated Mao's approval.
Article 20 of the Common Program also states that the security troops and the regular troops will be under one command. The above-mentioned reorganization is intended to achieve this objective. In practice, the enduring informal connections forged through shared triumphs and challenges persist among former comrades, particularly if deactivation doesn't physically separate leaders from the geographic area their former army once occupied. Following the conclusion of the Korean War, units gradually returned to China, with many being reassigned to the regions they had departed from for the war, and where they had previously concluded the Civil War.
Mao Zedong undermines article 20 when in June 9, 1953, he decides to disconnect the Central Garrison Regiment of the security troops (originally named the Chinese Peoples' Public Security Center Column). This new corps is responsible for the security of the party elite. Initially designated as a PLA unit, it was later officially designated by the PLA General Staff Department as the PLA 8341 Unit. Despite its nominal affiliation, the PLA's role was primarily logistical support and assistance with recruitment. The PLA lacked command authority over the 8341 Unit and was not intended to be directly involved in its operational or decision-making processes. The establishment of the 8341 Unit allowed Mao to exert direct control over the security force responsible for protecting top leaders through Wang Dongxing.
Long live the People's Liberation Army

See for difference in strategy Martin Kenneth Andrew, “Tuo Mao: the operational history of the people’s liberation army” Bond University 2008 p. 164 and next. Schwarz (1969) notices. "During the war, the Communists had established several outer base areas behind Japanese lines (...). 1 The leaders of each base area formed small cohesive groups which changed little in membership during a long period of time (eight years), and shared extraordinary hardships. The cohesiveness and the length of time, if not the degree of hardship, were unprecedented in the history of Chinese Communism. They were the ingredients of clusters of friendship, trust, and loyalty that were to persist long after the war." Schwarz (1969). Page 1. [Cite]
On January 15, 1949 the CMC further made a decision on the organization and designation of the entire military: the Northwest, Central Plains, East China, and Northeast Field Armies were changed to the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Field Armies in sequence. In January and February of 1949, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Corps of the North China Military Area Command were given new designations in order as the 18th, the 19th and the 20th Corps of the PLA.
On February 1, 1949, the joint defense military area command covering the Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia, Shanxi and Suiyuan provinces was renamed the Northwest Military Area Command and the Northwest Field Army was renamed the First Field Army of the PLA.
On February 5, 1949, the Central Plain Field Army was renamed the Second Field Army of the PLA.
On February 9, 1949, the East China Field Army was renamed the Third Field Army of the PLA.
On March 11, 1949, the Northeast Field Army was renamed the Fourth Field Army of the PLA.. [↩]
Cited in Zhong (2015). Page 27 [↩] [Cite]
Fravel (2019). Page 61 [↩] [Cite]
Fravel (2019). Page 72 [↩] [Cite]
Cited in Guo (2012). Page 148 [↩] [Cite]
Yan (2020). Pages 48-49 [↩] [Cite]
Fig. 20.3: Public security Forces
Source: Guo (2012). Page 150
CPPSF: Chinese People’s Public Security Forces
Hsia (1953). Page 147 [↩] [Cite]
Wu (2014). Page 14. Speaking bitterness—(is) an activity of "articulating one’s history of being oppressed and exploited by class enemies and thus stimulating others" class hatred, and in the meantime consolidating one’s own class standpoint." Wu (2014). Page 1.[↩] [Cite]
Hsia (1953). Page 140. [Cite] Ex GMD commanders Dong Qiwu, Liu Fei and Zeng Zesheng [↩]
Mulvenon (1997). Page XIII. Chinese women soldiers did go to war during the Korean War as cultural workers, nurses, doctors, and telephone operators. [↩] [Cite]
Joffe (1964). Page 124 [↩] [Cite]
U (2019). Page 74 [↩] [Cite]
Page 46 [↩] [Cite]
Hou (2008). Page 167 [↩] [Cite]
Schoenhals (2015). Pages 265-271 [↩] [Cite]
Gittings (1966). Page 85 [↩] [Cite]
Guo (2012). Page 388 [↩] [Cite]
Whitson (1971). Page 15 [↩] [Cite]
Whitson (1969). Page 7 [↩] [Cite]
Guo (2005). Page 7 [↩] [Cite]

Chapter 3 of Common Program