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

This opening section outlines the path that led to the creation of the Common Program. It commences with a brief overview of China's history from 1911 to 1949, followed by a more detailed examination of the collaboration between the CCP and other political parties and figures, collectively known as Minzhu Dangpai. This partnership ultimately gave rise to the Common Program and the establishment of a coalition government.
It defines the relation between the CCP and other political parties and social organization (Minzhu Dangpai) and the influence of the SU in preparing a consultative conference will be discussed.
It covers the 2nd plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the CCP. Here, the basis is laid for cooperation with the Minzhu Dangpai.
Details are given about the preparatory meeting between members of the CCP and Minzhu Dangpai in June 1949. The preparation of the CCP for a complete seizure of power is described. Liu Shaoqi’s secret trip to the SU for aid and Mao Zedong’s “On the people's dictatorship.”
The Minzhu Dangpai’s attitude towards the CCP, towards the SU, and towards the role of government is highlighted.
It deals with the first plenum of the CPPCC in September 1949. The delegates are introduced. The value of the Common Program and the other decisions made at this plenum are delineated. The formation the new government, the appointment of new ambassadors, and the recruitment of cadres is also a topic.
Finally, the background of the cadres and the conflicts arising after the takeover are decribed. All these items will be described in the folowing Parts.

The Chinese revolution of 1911 marked the end of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty. Following the collapse of the Chinese empire in 1912, a tumultuous period in Chinese history ensued. That same year, China transitioned into a republic, with Sun Yat-sen assuming the presidency. Sun Yat-sen later resigned, and his position was assumed by Yuan Shikai to prevent a civil war. However, this new government struggled to maintain the unity of the state.
Following Yuan Shikai's death in 1916, a nearly 17-year period began, during which local warlords vied for power in an attempt to establish a unified China under their control. Regions such as Sichuan, Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia, Guangdong, Guangxi, Gansu, Yunnan, and Xinjiang were particularly affected by this power vacuum. The warlord era came to an end in 1930 when Jiang Jieshi successfully defeated the last two major warlords.
In October 1930, Jiang Jieshi initiated attacks on regions controlled by the CCP. Despite four unsuccessful encirclement campaigns, it was the fifth campaign that led to the withdrawal of the CCP army, initiating the "Long March" in October 1934. Concurrently, Japanese troops had occupied Manchuria.

At the end in the 1930’s, only 3 parties are capable of completing the task of reuniting China. These are the Guomindang (GMD) with Jiang Jieshi as their leader, the CCP under the leadership of Mao Zedong. The Japanese troops are also successful in their conquests and during the 1930’s they go south and conquer Shanghai in 1937, and in December 1941 they finally arrive in Hong Kong.

On August 1, 1935, the CCP publishes Message to all Compatriots, in which the party calls upon the GMD and other parties to end the civil war and to unite to fight against the Japanese invaders. On July 15, 1937, the CCP and the GMD declared to start a United Front against the Japanese occupiers. This United Front is enforced after the kidnapping of Jiang Jieshi in December 1936. This abduction is organized by some GMD generals and only after interference of Zhou Enlai, Jiang Jieshi is set free. Both parties promise to refrain from fighting each other and jointly fight the Japanese armies. This United Front is just partly a success because the former opponents do not trust each other and there are multiple incidents between the 2 armies. The establishment of the United Front provided the CCP with a significant opening to challenge its sectarian reputation as a party exclusively representing the worker-peasant masses, enabling a transformative shift towards a genuinely national party committed to national defense and unity. This strategic move aimed to bolster the CCP's appeal and political sway across China while concurrently weakening the social foundations of the GMD, ultimately maximizing mass support for the party's revolutionary trajectory. Moreover, the United Front facilitated the concentration of the CCP's efforts on crucial aspects such as party development, armed struggle, and territorial expansion.
China circa the late 1930's

"Many activists joined both parties during the 1920s. Memories and friendships from that first Guomindang–CCP collaboration were never erased at the local level. Millions of Chinese rallied to the CCP during the war against Japan in part because the Communists seemed the proper heirs of the revolutionary anti-imperialism of Sun Zhongshan’s (Sun Yat-sen) party during the 1920s – seemed better to embody the nationalist rhetoric of Guomindang propaganda and public school textbooks than did the Guomindang itself." Slyke (1970) distinguishes 5 phases in the United Front: 1923-1927; 1927-1937; 1937-1941; 1941-1945 and 1945-1949. The history of the United Front lies beyond the scope of this site.

After the end of the Second World War and Japan is finally beaten (The war came to an end not as a result of a Japanese defeat at the hands of the CCP or GMD, but as a result of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki), the 'old' civil war starts again. Although attempts are made to avoid this. Right after the end of the WO II between August 28 and October 10, 1945, Mao Zedong and Jiang Jieshi meet at Chongqing to talk about the future of China. The discussion ends with the 'Double 10 agreement' . The agreement consists of 12 articles. The main articles are: The reform of China will be performed by 'peaceful' methods. The CCP recognizes the GMD as the legitimate government and the GMD recognizes the CCP and other parties as legitimate opposition parties and a conference shall be convened. However, in the end, the two parties do not trust each other and the civil war starts again.

Stalin, the Soviet Union (SU) leader, advises both parties to hold a consultative meeting to resolve the existing contrasts. This was a part of the Double 10 agreement. Between 10 and 31 January 1946, this consultative meeting convenes. Besides, the GMD (8 delegates) and the CCP (7 delegates), the Chinese Youth Party (5 delegates) which is an extreme right-wing anticommunist party that sided with the GMD. The Youth Party had recently split from the Chinese Democratic League (CDL). CDL is represented by Zhang Lanand Luo Longji. The other 7 members represented the Nationalist Socialist Party with Zhang Dongsun and Zhang Junmai, two members Shen Junru and Zhang Shenfu represented National Salvation Association, Huang Yanpei was the participant of the Vocational Education Association, the Third Party was represented by Zhang Bojun and Liang Shuming represented the Rural Reconstruction Association. Nine nonpartisan individuals visited this meeting in Chongqing. The US sent an ambassador to Chongqing to assist with the negotiations. The SU also sent an ambassador to help the CCP secretly with the negotiations. The SU still recognized the GMD government. The meeting is a failure and the CCP and CDL boycott the end results.

On December 25, 1947, the CCP decides to form a complete new United Front with every party and person who wants to defeat the GMD. During 1948, the character of the United Front changes because the victory of the communist army (PLA) is at hand. Slyke poses the opinion: “Now, however, the united front was changing in function from isolating an enemy to gaining popular support for the new regime”. In 1948, Stalin kept pushing Mao Zedong to compromise and form a coalition government with the Minzhu Dangpai: "We think that the various opposition parties in China which are representing the middle strata of the Chinese population and are opposing the Guomindang clique will exist for a long time. And the CCP will have to involve them in cooperation against the Chinese reactionary forces and imperialist powers, while keeping hegemony, i.e., the leading position, in its hands. It is possible that some representatives of these parties will have to be included into the Chinese people’s democratic government and the government itself has to be proclaimed a coalition government in order to widen the basis of this government among the population and to isolate imperialists and their Guomindang agents. It is necessary to keep in mind that the Chinese government in its policy will be a national revolutionary-democratic government, not a communist one..."
Stalin advised Mao Zedong not to cross the Yangtze because he was afraid this would provoke a US reaction. "...the USSR would not be able to come to China's assistance. Stalin also passed along to the Chinese Communists a Nationalist request that he mediate the Chinese civil war; and he sent Anastas Mikoyan secretly to meet with Mao--the first high Soviet official to make such a trip--to warn that a conflict with the Americans might break out.56"

The course of the Civil War 1946-1949
civil war 1946-1950

"Both parties backed modernization, but they differed sharply about how best to accomplish it: state capitalism linked to the global economy and injected into the existing society for the KMT; autarchic central planning via a social revolution for the CCP.48" Buzan (2020). Page 15 [↩] [Cite]
GMD campaigns against the PLA with forces respectively about as follows:
Year Kuomintang Communist
1930 100,000 30,000
1931 200,000 1st campaign 40,000
1931 300,000 2nd campaign 30,000
1933 900,000 90,000
1936 170,000 40,000
1946 3,000,000 600,000
1947 4,900,000 800,000
1948 5,000,000 2,260,000
The GMD lost every campaign except that of 1933. [↩]
Zang (2004). Page 39. [↩] [Cite]
Esherick (2003). Page 41 [↩] [Cite]
Slyke (1970). Page 131 [↩] [Cite]
Rudolph (1970). "However, when the conference finally convened in January 1946, the government had failed to implement the necessary reforms promised in the agreement. Not surprisingly, the public expectations of the conference merely ranged from cautiously optimistic to fatalistic.15 Already the concluding celebrations of the consultative conference were disrupted by attacks on DPG representatives. Both CCP and GMD refocused on solving the conflict through the power of the gun rather than persuasion." Pages 284-285 [↩] [Cite]
See Winter (2014).[Cite]
Gaddis (1997) remarks "What is striking about Soviet and American policies regarding postwar China, therefore, is the extent to which they initially--if inadvertently--coincided. Both Washington and Moscow assumed that the Nationalists would reassert control over China in the wake of the Japanese surrender, and both sought to persuade the Chinese Communists to accept this outcome. Neither understood that the Communists and the Nationalists were not prepared to cooperate,29 neither foresaw that the Communists would prove so much more successful than the Nationalists in winning support among the Chinese people. The significance of these surprises would only slowly dawn, first in Washington and then in Moscow, but even then only through perceptual lenses borrowed from the Cold War in Europe." Page 60 [↩] [Cite]
Slyke (1970). Page 131 [↩] [Cite]
Gaddis (1997). Page 65.
See Part 2 [↩] [Cite]

Road to Common Program