Article 23 of the Common Program
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Article 23 of the Common Program

The People's Republic of China shall put into effect the people's militia system to maintain local order and to lay the foundation for national mobilization. It shall make preparations to enforce a system of obligatory military service at the appropriate time.


In his address to party congress of April 1945 Mao Zedong argues the importance of the militia “…this army is powerful because it has the people’s self-defence corps and the militia — the vast armed organizations of the masses — fighting in co-ordination with it. In the Liberated Areas of China all men and women, from youth to middle age, are organized in the people’s anti-Japanese self-defence corps on a voluntary and democratic basis and without giving up their work in production. The cream of the self-defence corps, except for those who join the army or the guerrilla units, is brought into the militia. Without the cooperation of these armed forces of the masses it would be impossible to defeat the enemy.”
Document:24-04-1945 Mao Zedong "On coalition government"
A day later on April 26,
Zhu De
Zhu De (1886-1976) Commander-in-Chief of the People's Liberation Army (1946-1954)
again stresses the importance of the militia “The enormous force of militia corps in the liberated areas is something we never had before. We have now learned the technique of organizing militia corps. The significance and importance of this accomplishment are beyond imagination. Militia corps, once formed, can cooperate with the regular armed forces in battle. They may separately shoulder battle tasks. They also play an important role protecting the production campaigns of the populace. . . .In various localities arrangements have been made to link together militia corps for joint protection and battle assignments. Herein may be seen the beginning of militia corps gradually evolving into and becoming regular armed forces of the localities. At the same time the militia corps and self-protection units also take part in general production activities. This enables war prosecution and production activities to be linked together and become coordinated. . . .”
12 25-04-1945 Zhu De "The battle front in the liberated areas"
As soon as the CCP had the opportunity “Local militias, in particular "self-defence corps" (ziweituan) and "landlord troops" (huanxiangtuan), were described as "anti-Communist" or "anti-people" organizations by the Communists, and were required to cease all activities after 15 January 1949. Their members were obliged to register, and hand over all important documents, broadcasting equipment and weapons. Failure to register turned organization leaders into criminals…"
Dikötter Frank (1997). Crime and punishment in post-liberation China: The prisoners of a Beijing gaol in the 1950s. The China Quarterly, 149. Page 152

Changing role of militia....

On May 16, 1950, the CC and the CMC issue the "Directive on Strengthening the Construction of Militias". The directive proposes the implementation of an universal militia system throughout the country. The principle of voluntary participation in the militia practiced in the past years is changed into general participation. It stipulates that all young men of the right age shall have the right and the obligation to participate in the militia as long as they are in good health and regardless of ethnicity, race, social origin and education level.
In November 1950 the CCP decides to let the militia grow to 5% of the population (about 23 million people). Everybody between the age of 18 and 31 years old can apply for the militia. The task of this militia is maintaining local order and giving support to the land reform and picking up "criminals" who stand trial in the people’s tribunals. The main task of the militia is mainly suppressing riots in tax collection and the introduction of agricultural reforms. The role of supporting the regular army disappears, although recruiting of militia troops takes place during the Korean War.
The number of 23 million recruits is not reached, due to “First, the Korean War made recruitment into the regular armed forces more important than the militia and so, as stated, some militia members were recruited into the regular army. Second, militia work suffered as PLA modernization was looked at as more important than militia work.”
Bunk Andy (no date). Forgotten A look at the changing roles of the Chinese militia system in the communist era from its inception to the present. Page 10
Bruggen (1981) states the militia was expanded from 5 million in 1950 to 12,8 million in September 1951. 700.000 militias were recruited for the the Chinese People's Volunteers
Brugger Bill, Brugger William (1981).China, Liberation and Transformation, 1942-1962. Rowman & Littlefield. Page 75

New regulations....

On December 11, 1952 enters into force the new regime on militias. It regulates the formation of militia on provincial, regional, district, city and villages levels. The militia should from now on enforce the bond between the PLA and the mass (especially with the farmers). The PLA supplies weaponry and training. A clear distinction is made between rural and urban regions. “…no militias were permitted in the urban districts of metropolitan areas. Factories, mines, shops, and enterprises were explicitly prohibited from establishing militia organizations among their workforce. In the countryside, by contrast, militia construction—again under military supervision—was touted as a national priority.”
Perry Elizabeth J.(2006). Patrolling the revolution: Worker militias, citizenship, and the modern Chinese state. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing group. Page 181
In reality the militia receive little training and the militia sometimes do some patrol services or they have to fullfil tasks which are not in accordance with the intention of the purpose of the militia. “There were complaints from the militia that even in small country villages the local cadre would demand their services to do sentry go outside his office, or to act as an escort of honor when he went abroad.”
Cressy Earl Herbert (1957). Understanding China a handbook of background information on changing China. New York. Page 252
The militia activities should not come into conflict with agricultural production. As far as national security is involved the militia hardly play any role because they are not fit to fight rebels. This is a task of the regular army.

Conscription....

On July 30, 1955, the Second Meeting of the 1st National People’s Congress ratified the Military Service Law of the People’s Republic of China, which stipulated the People’s Republic of China shall practise a military service system based mainly on conscription. According to this law, China started to practice the conscription in 1956.


Literature Notes Documents...

3. Dikötter Frank (1997). Crime and punishment in post-liberation China: The prisoners of a Beijing gaol in the 1950s. The China Quarterly, 149. Page 152 Back
4. Bunk Andy (no date). Forgotten A look at the changing roles of the Chinese militia system in the communist era from its inception to the present. Page 10 Back
5. Brugger Bill, Brugger William (1981).China, Liberation and Transformation, 1942-1962. Rowman & Littlefield Back
6. Perry Elizabeth J.(2006). Patrolling the revolution: Worker militias, citizenship, and the modern Chinese state. Rowman & Littlefield Publishing group. Page 181 Back
7. Cressy Earl Herbert (1957). Understanding China a handbook of background information on changing China. New York. Page 252 Back
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