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The Political System 1949-1954

Mar 29, 2017 © Ulrich Theobald

In the political centre, new institutions were created, while at the local level, the existing ones were adapted. The Party convoked in September 1949 a People's Political Consultative Conference (Zhongguo renmin zhengzhi xueshang huiyi 中国人民政治协商会议, short Zhengxie 政协, CPPCC) which drafted the constitution and the new political system, but remains a political organ until today. The Conference included members of the political parties, regional representatives, such of the army and various professions, as well as a number of guests, with a total number of 585 (and 77 alternative members, Guillermaz 1976: 14). It promulgated two organic laws, one concerning the CPPCC itself, and the second concerning the Central People's Government (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu 中央人民政府). Until 1954, when the first constitution came into force, the CPPCC also served as a kind of national assembly or parliament. In fact, this institution was not quite new, but had precursors in the years directly after the Anti-Japanese War, when the Kuomintang and the CPC thought about a common way to create a future constitution for China.

The Democratic or Junior Parties

The democratic parties (minzhu dangpai 民主党派) participated and were—as junior parties to the CPC—integrated into the political system.

Table 1. The Eight Democratic Parties
N.B. In specific hierarchical order
中国国民党革命委员会 (民革) Zhongguo guomindang geming weiyuanhui
Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang
中国民主同盟 (民盟) Zhongguo minzhu tongmeng
China Democratic League
中国民主建国会 (民建) Zhongguo minzhu jianguo hui
China Democratic National Construction Association
中国民主促进会 (民进) Zhongguo minzhu cujin hui
China Association for Promoting Democracy
中国农工民主党 (农工党) Zhongguo nong-gong minzhu dang
Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party
中国致公党 (致公党) Zhongguo zhigong dang
China Zhi Gong Party (lit. "Devoted to impartiality")
九三学社 (九三) Jiu-san xuehui
Jiusan Society (founded September 3, [1945])
台湾民主自治同盟 (台盟) Taiwan minzhu zizhi tongmeng
Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League

The People's Central Government Council

The People's Central Government Council (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu weiyuanhui 中央人民政府委员会) was responsible for the general line and for domestic and foreign policy. It promulgated laws and decrees, ratified and abrogated treaties, and approved the budget. It consisted of a Chairman (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zhuxi 中央人民政府主席, Mao Zedong), six Vice-Chairmen (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu fuzhuxi 中央人民政府副主席: Zhu De 朱德, Liu Shaoqi 刘少奇, Song Qingling 宋庆龄, Zhang Lan 张澜, Li Jishen 李济深, and Gao Gang 高岗), and 56 members.

The State Administrative Council

Below the Government Council was the State Administrative Council (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zhengwuyuan 中央人民政府政务院), which was responsible the putting the former's decisions into effect. It was presided over by Prime Minister (zongli 总理) Zhou Enlai (who was assisted by four, later five Vice Premiers, fuzongli 副总理), namely Dong Biwu 董必武, Chen Yun 陈云, Guo Moruo 郭沫若, Huang Yanpei 黄炎培, and from 1952 Deng Xiaoping 邓小平) and controlled about 30 ministries and other bodies, organized in four committees:

The Four Committees

The Political and Legal Affairs Committee (Zhengzhi falü weiyuanhui 政治法律委员会) was presided over by Dong Biwu 董必武, the Economy and Finance Committee (Caizheng jingji weiyuanhui 财政经济委员会) by Chen Yun 陈云, the Culture and Education Committee (Wenhua jiaoyu weiyuanhui 文化教育委员会) by Guo Moruo, and the People's Control Committee (Renmin jiancha weiyuanhui 人民监察委员会, a reminiscence of the Republican Control Yuan) by Tan Pingshan 谭平山. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Waijiaobu 外交部, whose jurisdiction also included matters of Overseas Chinese) understood directly the control of the Prime Minister, who was concurrently Foreign Minister until 1958. The same was true for several other institutions.

Table 2. Institutions under the State Administrative Council
Political and Legal Affairs Committee (Zhengwuyuan zhengzhi falü weiyuanhui 政务院政治法律委员会)
中央人民政府内务部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu neiwubu
Ministry of Internal Affairs
中央人民政府公安部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu gong'anbu
Ministry of Public Security
中央人民政府司法部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu sifabu
Ministry of Justice
中央人民政府法制委员会 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu fazhi weiyuanhui
Committee on Codification
中央人民政府民族事务委员会 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu minzu shiwu weiyuanhui
Nationalities Affairs Commission
Economy and Finance Committee (Zhengwuyuan caizheng jingji weiyuanhui 政务院财政经济委员会)
In Nov 1952 eight ministries were subordinated to the newly created State Planning Commission.
中央人民政府财政部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu caizhengbu
Ministry of Finance
中央人民政府贸易部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu maoyibu
Ministry of Trade (abol. Sep 1952)
中央人民政府重工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zhonggongye bu
Ministry of Heavy Industries
中央人民政府燃料工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu ranliao gongye bu
Ministry of Fuel Industry
中央人民政府纺织工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zhifang gongye bu
Ministry of Textile Industry
中央人民政府食品工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu shipin gongye bu
Ministry of Food Industry (abol. Dec 1950)
中央人民政府轻工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu qinggongye bu
Ministry of Light Industry
中央人民政府铁道部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu tiedaobu
Ministry of Railways
中央人民政府邮电部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu youdianbu
Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications
中央人民政府交通部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu jiaotongbu
Ministry of Communications
中央人民政府农业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu nongyebu
Ministry of Agriculture
中央人民政府林垦部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu linkenbu
Ministry of Forestry and Land Reclamations
中央人民政府水利部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu shuilibu
Ministry of Water Conservation
中央人民政府劳动部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu laodongbu
Ministry of Labour
中国人民银行 Zhongguo renmin yinhang
People's Bank of China
中央人民政府海关总署 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu haiguan zongshu
Customs Administration (abol. Jan 1953)
中央人民政府对外贸易部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu duiwai maoyi bu
Ministry of Foreign Trade (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府商业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu shangyebu
Ministry of Commerce (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府粮食部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu liaoshibu
Ministry of Food (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府第一机械工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu diyi jixie gongye bu
First Ministry of Machinery Industry (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府第二机械工业部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu di'er jixie gongye bu
Second Ministry of Machinery Industry (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府建筑工程部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu jianzhu gongcheng bu
Ministry of Construction and Engineering (est. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府地质部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu dizhibu
Ministry of Geology (est. Nov 1952)
Culture and Education Committee (Zhengwuyuan wenhua jiaoyu weiyuanhui 政务院文化教育委员会)
中央人民政府文化部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu wenhuabu
Ministry of Cultural Affairs
中央人民政府教育部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu jiaoyubu
Ministry of Education
中央人民政府卫生部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu weishengbu
Ministry of Public Health
中国科学院 Zhongguo kexue yuan
Academy of Sciences
中央人民政府新闻总署 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu xinwen zongshu
Directorate of Information (abol. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府出版总署 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu chuban zongshu
Publications Administration
中央人民政府高等教育部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu gaodeng jiaoyu bu
Ministry of Higher Education (est. Nov 1952)
中央人民政府体育运动委员会 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu tiyu yundong weiyuanhui
Committee for Physical Culture and Sports (est. Nov 1952)
中央人民政府扫除文盲工作委员会 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu saochu wenmang gongzuo weiyuanhui
Work Committee for the Elimination of Illiteracy (est. Nov 1952)
The People's Control Committee (Zhengwuyuan renmin jiancha weiyuanhui 政务院人民监察委员会)
Directly reporting to the State Administative Council
中央人民政府外交部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu waijiaobu
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
中央人民政府情报总署 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu qingbao zongshu
Directorate of Intelligence (abol. Aug 1952)
中央人民政府华侨事务委员会 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu Huaqiao shiwu weiyuanhui
Commission of Overseas Chinese Affairs
中央人民政府人事部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu renshibu
Ministry of Personnel (est. Sep 1950)
中央人民政府华北事务部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu Huabei shiwu bu
Ministry of North China Affairs (Sep 1950-Apr 1952)
政务院华北行政委员会 Zhengwuyuan Huabei xingzheng weiyuanhui
Committee for the Administration of North China (est. in Apr 1952 and in Nov transformed into 中央人民政府华北行政委员会)
中央气象局 Zhongyang qixiangju
Central Weather Bureau (est. Aug 1953)

Institutions Directly Reporting to the Government Council

Two very important institutions were directly responsible to the Central Government Council, namely the People's Revolutionary Military Council (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu renmin geming junshi weiyuanhui 中央人民政府人民革命军事委员会), headed by Mao Zedong, and the Supreme People's Court (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zuigao renmin fayuan 中央人民政府最高人民法院) and the related Procuratorate (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zuigao renmin chashu 中央人民政府最高人民检察署). Another one was the State Planning Commission (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu guojia jihua weiyuanhui 中央人民政府国家计划委员会), inaugurated in 1952.

Territorial Administration

The territory of China was divided into six large administrative regions with administrative commissions (Daqu xingzheng weiyuanhui 大区行政委员会), corresponding to the six zones of action (da junqu 大军区 or yiji junqu 一级军区) of the four field armies of the People's Liberation Army. Alongside the People's Governments of the Northeast and the North were four regional governments called military administrative committees (junzheng weiyuanhui 军政委员会), headed by the commanders of each of the four field armies (yezhanjun 野战军). Because these men were also regional Party secretaries, they had considerable power. Administrative and military functions were in one hand in each of these four committees until November 1952. The regional system itself was abolished in April 1954, as a consequence of the Gao Gang affair. Yet it reappeared in a different practice in January 1961, as part of the Socialist Education Campaign, with regional delegates of the Central Committee (daibiao zhongyang fenbie jiaqiang dui ge sheng, shi, zizhiqu dangwei de lingdao 代表中央分别加强对各省、市、自治区党委的领导 "leaders representing the Central Committee strengthening the Party committee of each province, city, and autonomous region"). The large administrative regions were finally abolished in October 1966 at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

Table 3. The Six Large Administrative Regions and their Transformation from a Military into a Civilian Government

Central People's Government Administration Committee of the Northeast (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu dongbei xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府东北行政委员会)

Shenyang 沈阳: cities of Shenyang, Lüda 旅大, Anshan 鞍山, Fushun 抚顺, Benxi 本溪, provinces of Liaoxi 辽西, Jilin 吉林, Songjiang 松江, Heilongjiang 黑龙江, Rehe 热河
Aug-Oct 1946 东北各省市行政联合办事处 Dongbei ge sheng-shi xingzheng lianhe banshi chu
Oct 1946-Aug 1949 东北行政委员会 Dongbei xingzheng weiyuanhui
Aug 1949-Nov 1952 东北人民政府 Dongbei renmin zhengfu
Nov 1952-Sep 1954 东北行政委员会 Dongbei xingzheng weiyuanhui
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Gao Gang 高岗 Dec 1949-Sep 1954 Gao Gang 高岗 Sep 1951-Aug 1952
Lin Feng 林枫 Aug 1952-Apr 1954
[Song Renlao 宋任穷 Oct 1960-Oct 1966]

Central People's Government Administration Committee of North China (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu Huabei xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府华北行政委员会)

Beijing 北京: Beijing City, Tianjin City 天津, provinces of Hebei 河北, Shanxi 山西, Inner Mongolia 内蒙古
Sep 1948-Oct 1949 华北人民政府 Huabei renmin zhengfu
Oct 1949-Sep 1950 directly under the Central Government
Sep 1950-Dec 1951 中央人民政府华北事务部 Zhongyang renmin zhengfu Huabei shiwu bu
Dec 1951-Aug 1954 政务院华北行政委员会 Zhengwuyuan Huabei xingzheng weiyuanhui
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Dong Biwu 董必武 Sep 1948-Oct 1949 Bo Yibo 薄一波 Oct 1948-Apr 1954
Liu Lantao 刘澜涛 Nov 1950-Aug 1954
[Li Xuefeng 李雪峰 Nov 1960-Oct 1966]

Central People's Government Administration Committee of the Northwest (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu xibei xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府西北行政委员会)

Xi'an 西安: Xi'an City, provinces of Shaanxi 陕西, Gansu 甘肃, Ningxia 宁夏, Qinghai 青海, Xinjiang 新疆
Jan 1950-Jan 1953 西北军政委员会 Xibei junzheng weiyuanhui
Jan 1953-Dec 1954 西北行政委员会 Xibei xingzheng weiyuanhui
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Peng Dehuai 彭德怀 Dec 1949-Sep 1954 Peng Dehuai 彭德怀 Feb 1950-Apr 1954
[Liu Lantao 刘澜涛 Nov 1960-Oct 1966]

Central People's Government Administration Committee of the Southwest (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu xinan xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府西南行政委员会)

Chongqing 重庆: Chongqing City, provinces of Sichuan 四川, Guizhou 贵州, Yunnan 云南, Xikang 西康, areas of Xizang 西藏 (Tibet) and Changdu (Qamdo) 昌都 [Kham, northeast Tibet]
Dec 1949-Nov 1952 西南军政委员会 Xinan junzheng weiyuanhui
Nov 1952-Sep 1954 西南行政委员会 Xinan xingzheng weiyuanhui
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Liu Bocheng 刘伯承 Dec 1949-Sep 1954 Deng Xiaoping 邓小平 Nov 1949-Apr 1954
[Li Jingquan 李井泉 Oct 1960-Oct 1966]

Central People's Government Administration Committee of East China (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu Huadong xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府华东行政委员会)

Dec 1949-Nov 1952 华东军政委员会 Huadong junzheng weiyuanhui
Nov 1952-Sep 1954 华东行政委员会 Huadong xingzheng weiyuanhui
Shanghai 上海: Shanghai City, provinces of Jiangsu 江苏, Zhejiang 浙江, Anhui 安徽, Shandong 山东, Fujian 福建, [Taiwan 台湾]
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Rao Shushi 饶漱石 Dec 1949-Sep 1954 Rao Shushi 饶漱石 Oct 1949-Apr 1954
[Ke Qingshi 柯庆施 Feb 1961-Apr 1965]

Central People's Government Administration Committee Center/South (Zhongyang renmin zhengfu zhongnan xingzheng weiyuanhui 中央人民政府中南行政委员会)

Wuhan 武汉: Wuhan City, provinces of Hubei 湖北, Henan 河南, Hunan 湖南, Jiangxi 江西, Guangdong 广东, Guangxi 广西
Dec 1949-Nov 1952 中南军政委员会 Zhongnan junzheng weiyuanhui
Nov 1952-Sep 1954 中南行政委员会 Zhongnan xingzheng weiyuanhui
Chairman (zhuxi 主席) Secretary (miji 书记)
Lin Biao 林彪 (Ye Jianying 叶剑英 acting) Dec 1949-Sep 1954 Lin Biao 林彪 May 1949-Apr 1954
[Tao Zhu 陶铸 Oct 1960-Aug 1966]
[Wang Renzhong 王任重 Aug-Oct 1966]
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