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Delegations in the CPPCC

The formal planning process of the first CPPCC began with a draft by Zhou Enlai titled “Various Questions Concerning the Convening of a New Political Consultative Conference” (Guanyu zhaokai xin de zhengzhi xieshang huiyi zhu wenti Unfortunately, all official CCP

source collections omitted Zhou’s draft. Most other documents drafted and revised during the preparations for the consultative conference are also kept under lock and key.60 Thus, changes in the available invitation lists can give important insights into power struggles between the DPGs and the CCP as well as between the DPGs that competed for influence in the new regime.

A list attached to the CCP leadership’s draft from October 1948 mentioned 39 entities: 9 DPGs, 6 factions representing local interests, 6 factions representing the military as well as representatives from 17 civic associations.61 Already one week later, the number of DPGs had shrunken to seven, excluding the Zhigong Party and the Democratic National Construction Association.62 The final "Agreement on Questions Concerning the Convening of a New Political Consultative Conference,” published on November 25, 1948, listed 23 entities that were to dispatch up to 4 delegates (see Table 9.1).

In considering the list’s symbolic importance, let us turn first to its composition. On closer inspection, an apparent division between the table’s upper and lower part reflects two different conceptions of representation (and thereby of legitimacy). Even though the participants were never elected by a public vote or in a transparent intraparty process, the CPPCC stressed the "representativeness” (daibiaoxing of this assembly. The upper part catered to Republican-era conceptions of a representation of competing political forces, such as in the Anglo-American system. The lower section, with its delegations of women, ethnic minorities, and students, illustrates the CCP’s corporatist approach to representation resting on the assumption that women best represent women, members of ethnic groups best represent ethnic minorities, and so forth. After 1949, the DPGs were subjected to the same corporatist logic of representation when the CCP set clear guidelines for noncompetitive membership recruitment that was limited to specific constituencies. They assigned DPGs and other political organizations the function of transmission belts communicating with and supervising predetermined social groups. Shielded from the public eye, the DPGs included in this list had already come under a varying degree of CCP influence by late 1948 and were after 1949 transformed into corporatist structures.64

Table 9.1 Groups of Participants of the CPPCC as Listed in the “Agreement on Questions Concerning the Convening of a New Political Consultative Conference”63

Name Chinese (Pinyin)

English

'H^zxÆj'ri (Zhongguo gongchandam

Î’MIsSK Minh'S Mil (Zhongguo guomindang geming weiyuanhui)

' t1 ® Ki l‘ d 11!! (Zhongguo minzhu tongmeng)

Ü^IKiftlÄW (Zhongguo minzhu cujinhui)

(Zhongguo zhigongdang) ibSiÄiEKiÄ (Zhongguo nonggong

minzhudang)

ibälÄKÄb® W (Zhongguo renmin jiuguohui)

(Zhongguo

guomindang minzhu cujinhui)

(Sanmin zhuyi tongzhi lianhehui)

Ki® ® 11 (Minzhu jianguohui)

M'MÄKiÄi (Wu dangpai minzhu renshi)

ikilÄfx (Quanguo jiaoshou)

|1$ (Guonei shaoshu minzu)

Îfej^l'^WKiÀi (Haiwai huaqiao minzhu renshi)

(Zhonghua quanguo zonggonghui)

WÂlâMKBlié (Jiefangqu nongmin tuanti)

  • (Quanguo fund lianhehui choubei weiyuanhui)
  • (Quanguo xuesheng lianhehui)
  • (Quanguo qingnian lianhehui choubei -weiyuanhui)

iï^ÀKBIflêWa'# (Shanghai renmin tuanti lianhehui)

jijOAKiÀi (Chanyejie minzhu renshi)

XitlFKiÂi (Wenhuajie minzhu renshi)

tt,|S|ÀKM$(S (Zhongguo renmin

Communist Party of China

Revolutionary Committee of the

Chinese Guomindang

Chinese Democratic League

Chinese Association for Promoting

Democracy

Chinese Zhigong Party

Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’

Democratic Party

Chinese People’s Salvation Association

Chinese Guomindang Association for the Promotion of Democracy

Federation of Comrades of the Three

Principles of the People

Democratic National Construction

Association

Democrats without party affiliation

Professors

National minorities

Chinese democrats living overseas

All-China Workers’ Union

Peasants’ associations in the liberated

areas

Preparatory Committee of the AllChina Women's Federation

All-China Federation of Student

Unions

Preparatory Committee of the AllChina Youth Federation

Federation of People’s Organizations in

Shanghai

Democrats from industrial circles

Democrats from cultural circles

People’s Liberation Army

jiefangjun)

Second, the order of the DPGs in the upper part of the list is of importance. Up until today, official documents maintain a particular order in listing the DPGs, reflecting a political hierarchy.65 When the preparatory committee officially met for the first time on June 19, 1949, the order of the participating parties and groups had changed again. For example, the Democratic National Construction Association had risen to the 4th position, while the Zhigong Party descended to the 11th position.66 In the sources, the underlying rules for setting this hierarchy are opaque. Yet, four factors were central: the ideological proximity of the DPGs to the Communist Party, the public image of the parties’ most influential members, the direct involvement in the consultation process in Lijiazhuang or Harbin, as well as the importance of the constituents that each DPG could mobilize for the national reconstruction.

Here again, the May First Call was of strategic significance in the construction of the consultative conference’s and thereby the CCP's legitimacy. To deflect allegations that the CCP was not interested in a united government but would merely pick close allies and weak parties excluding all contesting forces, the CCP claimed that hierarchies apparent in the listings merely reflected how quickly the DPGs had responded to the call for holding a consultative conference in May 1948.67 To attentive observers, however, not only the shifting order of DPGs in these lists but also the conspicuous absence of certain parties must have called this narrative into question.

The Chinese Association for the Promotion of Popular Education (Zhonghua pingmin jiaoyu cujinhui I:IA$ (*), the Chinese Peasants’ Party

(Zhongguo nongmindang 1I3 SM KU), the Guangfu Association (Guangfuhui T^iSUr), the Chinese Young Workers’ Party (Zhongguo shaonian laodongdang

the Alliance for People’s Freedom and Democracy (Renmin niinzhu ziyou lianmeng AKK£§ EhWIS), and other political parties and associations requested to participate in the CPPCC. Yet, the CCP claimed that members of those groups were mostly reactionaries, and thus their request was declined. Selected members willing to readjust their political views could nonetheless return to the “people’s camp” and “participate in the construction of a New China.”68

The Chinese Democratic Socialist Party (Zhongguo ntinzhu shehuidang 4’® Kitt W’^) was a more complicated case. Under the leadership of Zhang Junmai (1987-1969), the Democratic Socialists had joined the "old” consultative conference of 1946, and Zhang continued to cooperate with the GMD in drafting a new constitution. This caused an intraparty rift because many members had become wary of the authoritarian rule of the GMD and, by 1947, founded the Reform Faction of the Democratic Socialist Party (Minshedang ge-xinpai Ktt)B$®TiM).69 Its leaders Sha Yankai (1875-1970) and Wang Shiming (1896-1977) had responded to the May First Call on behalf of the Reform Faction.70 Therefore, according to a logic one might call “whoever is willing to join will be invited,” the Minshedang gexinpai should have participated in the CPPCC. In June 1949, the preparatory committee for the CPPCC decided that they would not reward seats to the party because their political stance was

People’s Political Consultative Conference 295 unclear. Nonetheless, Sha and Wang were offered memberships in the Chinese Democratic League, and the Reform Faction of the Democratic Socialist Party disbanded.71 In a report to I. V. Stalin, the CCP’s Central Committee member Liu Shaoqi commented on the DPG’s structure:

In each democratic party and group there are several leaders who have some influence among the popular masses, thanks to their having engaged in political activity in China for a long time. Their party organizations are held together only in these leaders. There are three categories of people in each party and group: rightists, leftists, and centrists.72

Thus, as long as one could integrate the most prominent leftist or centrist leaders into the CPPCC, the DPGs as organizational structures were no longer important. The Jiusan Study Society (Jiusan xueshe on the other hand, never

counted more than a hundred members before 1949 and was nonetheless included in the CPPCC, representing university teachers and scientists. Its name was only added to the list of participating groups in June 1949,73 which exemplifies how the CPPCC embraced tiny organizations like the Jiusan or the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League (Taiwan minzhu zizhi tongmeng

They expanded only after the founding of the PRC into organizational strongholds that served to reach certain parts of the Chinese elites.

In short, the publication of the different lists demonstrated the broadness and strength of the new united front. They proved that the first CPPCC concluded a process that had effectively separated the democratic forces of the Republican period into two camps, leading to the successful exclusion, weakening, or even disbanding of political associations. It elevated some groups to a level of national importance not founded on popular support but rather on corporatist functions that these parties had to fulfill within the united front framework.

 
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