By Lisong Liu, Staff Writer
Unlike the state organs we introduced in previous issues, such as the National People’s Congress and the State Council, which could easily find their counterparts in other countries, the CPCC is kind of a political institution and a part of the party system “with remarkable Chinese characteristics.” It was established during the Civil War in the late 1940s, while the relations between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the democratic parties within CPCC trace back even to the War of Resistance Against Japan in the 1930s. CPCC could be said to be the witness of the tremendous transformation of China in the last century.
1. Brief History of CPCC
CPCC was founded in 1949 (right before the foundation of the PRC) jointly by the CPC, various democratic parties, democrats with no party affiliations, people’s organizations and public figures from all walks of life. Such a broad membership had gained CPCC the title of “the patriotic United Front of the Chinese people.”
With the victory over the Nationalist Party (KMT) expected ahead, CPC issued a call on April 30, 1948 for proposing a new political consultative conference (as compared to the “old” one convened in Chongqing in 1946 led by KMT) to set up a democratic coalition government. Two preparatory meetings for thconference were held in Beijing in June and September, 1949, respectively, followed by the First Plenary Session of the CPPCC on September 21-30, 1949. Attended by 662 delegates, the Conference adopted the Common Program of the CPCC which served as the provisional Constitution of the nation. It also adopted the Organic Law of the Conference, elected the leaders of the Central Government, chose Beijing as the new capital, October 1 as the National Day, the five-star design as the national flag and March of the Volunteers as the national anthem.
CPCC exercised the functions and powers of the National People’s Congress until the latter was established in 1954. After that, CPCC was maintained as the organization of the United Front. In his article “On Ten Relationships,” Mao Zedong in 1956 wrote the principle of the CPCC to define the relationship between CPC and the other democratic parties: “Long-term co-existence and mutual supervision.” In January 1982, the National United Front Working Conference added “sincere treatment with each other and share of weal and woe” to the principle.
CPCC restored its work after the Cultural Revolution. On June 15, 1979, Deng Xiaoping, then the chairman of the Fifth CPCC National Committee, announced during the opening of the Second Session of the Committee thatthe United Front had changed into an alliance of socialist laborers and patriots in support of socialism under the leadership of the workers and on the basis of the alliance of workers and farmers. In 1988, the seventh CPCC National Committee decided to establish 13 special committees to make the political consultation and supervision a system.
In 1994, the constitution of CPCC was revised to include participation in the deliberation and administration of state affairs into the main functions of CPCC. As the United Front of Chinese people, CPCC has also widely conducted exchanges with foreign countries at various levels in the last few years. CPCC is elected for a term of five years and holds a plenary meeting every year. It convened the First Session of the 10th National Committee in this March and its current leader is Jia Qinglin.
2. Eight Democratic Parties
a. China Association for Promoting Democracy (CAPD)
CAPD was founded in Shanghai in December 1945, aiming “to carry out the democratic spirit and push forward the realization of democratic politics in China.” CAPD currently has around 65,000 members, mainly intellectuals in the fields of education, culture, science and publishing.
b. China Democratic League (CDL)
CDL’s predecessor is China League of Democratic Political Organization which was founded in October 1941 and composed of a few parties and non-party individuals and organizations. The League held a national congress in Chongqing in 1944 and decided to transform itself into a single party with the new name of CDL. After Japan was defeated in 1945, CDL insisted on opposing autocratic rule, demanding democracy, opposing civil war and demanding peace. KMT declared it as an “illegal organization” in 1947 and ordered its headquarters to disband. CDL established a temporary national headquarters in Hong Kong in 1948 and decided to cooperate with CPC for the realization of a democratic and new China. CDL now has about 130,000 members, and most of them are intellectuals.
c. China Democratic National Construction Association (CDNCA)
CDNCA was founded in Chongqing in 1945 by a number of national industrialists and businessmen and some intellectuals in the fields, who were all active at the time of the War of Resistance Against Japan. Currently it has a membership of about 69,000.
d. China Peasants and Workers’ Democratic Party (CPWDP)
CPWDP’s predecessor is the Provisional Action Committee of KMT, which was founded in Shanghai in 1930 by Deng Yenda, a prominent KMT left-wing leader, together with others. CDL finally changed its name to CPWDP in 1947 and currently has about 65,000 members. Its members are intellectuals in the fields of medical science, science and technology, culture and education.
e. China Zhi Gong Dang (CZGD)
CZGD was founded in San Francisco in October 1925 as imitated by the American Zhi Gong Dang, an organization of overseas Chinese. CZGD established its headquarters in Hong Kong in 1931, later moved to Guang Zhou in 1950 and finally to Beijing in 1953. During the War of Resistance Against Japan, CZGD dedicated itself in mobilizing the broad masses of overseas Chinese to support the just course of the motherland. It later denounced KMT for launching the
Civil War and called for political democracy. It has about 15,000 members, most of whom are returned overseas Chinese and their relatives, experts, scholars and representatives with overseas relations.
f. Jiu San Society
At the end of 1944, a group of progressive intellectuals organized the “forum on democracy and science” in Chongqing, with the hope of carrying on the spirit of the May 4th Movement of “democracy and science” and to unite to resist the Japanese aggression. It adopted the name of “Jiu San” (meaning “September 3” in Chinese) to commemorate the victory of the War Against Japan and the international war against Fascism on September 3, 1945. It was formally founded on May 4, 1946. It has around 68,000 members, and most of them are intellectuals in the fields of science, technology, education, culture and medical science.
g. Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese KMT (RCCK)
RCCK was formed in 1949 mainly by two organizations composed of former members of KMT: San Min Zhu Yi (Three People’s Principles) Comrades’ Federation, which was founded in 1945, and KMT Association for Promoting Democracy founded in 1946. Currently RCCK has more than 53,000 members.
h. Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (TDSGL)
The League was founded in Hong Kong in 1947. Most of its original members were originated from Taiwan, with the aim of fighting against imperialist aggression and all schemes for separating Taiwan from the mainland and of resisting against the dictatorial rule of KMT. It now has about 1,600 members who are either from Taiwan or have family roots in Taiwan, and who now reside in the mainland.