Chinese Political Scientist on the PRC Military Command and Political Commissar System

 英文翻译摘要:《中华人民共和国政治制度》第11章 国家军事制

Summary translation of Chapter 11 The State Military System in Pu Zhiqiang’s The Political System of the People’s Republic of China

Chapter 11 The State Military System

Pages 369 – 392 of the Political System of the People’s Republic of China

[Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Zhengzhi Zhidu] Chief Editor Pu Xingzu, Shanghai, 2005, Shanghai People’s Publishing House. ISBN 7-208-05566-1]

Summary translation. Sections 3-2, 3-3, and 3-4 are translated in full.

Chapter 11 is divided into four sections:

Section 1 Overview

1-1. Formation and Development of the Peoples’ Military System

1-2. Formation of the People’s Armed Forces [Renmin Wuzhuang Liliang]

(The PRC People’s Armed Forces consist of PLA active duty, PLA reserves, the Peoples’ Armed Police, and civil guard organizations [minbing].)

      1. The tripartite system
      2. The PLA
      3. The Peoples’ Armed Police
      4. The civil guard organizations
    1. The Chinese path of to creating a strong military [jingbing zhi lu]

(Summary: Since the third session of the Eleventh Congress of the CPC (1978) China has had a policy of opening and reform that makes different demands on the armed forces. In 1985, under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the Central Military Commission of the Central Committee, the PLA changed from being constantly prepared to “hit early, strike hard and to fight a nuclear war” to developing the military in an era of peace. The PLA reoriented itself to modernization, improving its fighting ability, and to become a more elite force. Jiang Zemin in 1990 called on the military to “Meet political standards, be militarily competent, have a good working style, adhere strictly to discipline, and adequate logistic support” (zhengzhi hege, junshi guoying, jilu youli, baozhang youli). Deng Xiaoping stressed that the PLA needed to focus more on quality than on quantity. The decision of the Chinese government in 1985 to reduce the size of the military by one million was completed by 1987. Staffing in military leadership organizations was cut by about 50%. During the Ninth Five Year Plan (1996 – 2000) the PLA was reduced by another 500,000. The PLA is also to have reduced by another 200,000 by 2005. The PLA is developing into a more elite force focusing on increasing mechanization and informatization so as to be able to fight and win a modern war. )

Section 2 The Military Leadership System

2-1 The Central Military Leadership System Jointly Established by the Party and the State

Summary: The Communist Party of China created and leads the People’s Liberation Army. After the PRC established in 1949, the PLA also became a state military. The state military system inherited and upholds the principle of the Communist Party’s absolute leadership over the people’s armed forces. The Party and the State jointly established the Central Military Commission that carries out the task of supreme military leadership over the armed forces. The 1954 PRC Constitution provides that the State President directs [tongshuai] the armed forces and made the State President the chair of the Defense Commission (the Defense Commission is an advisor body, it does not lead the armed forces). On September 28, 1954, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party re-established the Central Military Commission as the leader of the PLA and the people’s armed forces. From that time onwards, the system of joint system of Party and state military leadership was established. The Central Committee of the Communist Party leads in all military affairs. The State President directs the state military forces and the development of the military forces managed by the State Council.

In December 1982, the fifth National People’s Congress revised the State Constitution to provide that the State Central Military Commission leads all the armed forces of the state. The chair of the State CMC is chosen and removed by the full NPC while the other members are chosen by the NPC Standing Committee. However, the CMC of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party remained the Party organization that directly leads the military and all the other armed forces. In actual practice, the Party CMC, after consultation with the democratic parties, proposes the names of the State CMC members of the NPC so that these people after going through the legal processes can be elected by the NPC to the State Central Military Commission. That is to say, that the CMC of the Central Committee and the CMC of the State are one group and one organization. However, looking at it organizationally, these two CMCs are subordinate to two different systems – the Party system and the State system. Therefore the armed forces are under the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and are also the armed forces of the state. This is a uniquely Chinese system that ensures the joint leadership of the Communist Party and the state over the armed forces.

Fundamental Principles of the Military Leadership System

The Chinese Communist Party exercises absolute leadership over the military. That is the clear characteristic and fundamental principle of the Chinese military leadership system. ….

Benefiting from over seventy years of experience in developing the armed forces, the Chinese Communist Party a leadership system and work system for the armed forces. In order to ensure the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the armed forces, a basic system to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party is necessary. These include concentrating the leadership and command authority over the military in the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and in the Central Military Commission. Every level of Party committee in the military forces implement the principles of democratic centralism, the division and higher levels establish political commissars and political organizations, and ensure that the branch organizations are in line [jianchi zhibu zai lianshang]. These systems melded the Party organization with the military organization in order to achieve the Party’s leadership and administrative leadership. This is the key and guarantee to the absolute leadership of the Party over the military.

    1. Leadership Organizations in the Military and their Functions

The Central Military Commissions of the Party and the State are the supreme leading organizations of the national armed forces. The Central Military Commission carries out its responsibilities according to the authority given to it by the Constitution and National Defense Law. According to overall strategic plans, tactical tasks, the degree of modernization of the military, and the administrative divisions of the state, the PLA general staff departments [zongbu jiguan] the leadership organizations of the various military services, and the military region leadership organization.

The PLA general departments are composed of the General Staff Department, the General Political Department, the General Logistics Department and the General Armaments Department [GAD, sometimes translated as General Equipment Department]. … The CMC exercises leadership over the military regions, the Navy and the Air Force and the Second Artillery through the four general departments. Within a military region, the three service branches are coordinated in the battle operations [zuozhan xingdong] under the unified command of the military district. The Second Artillery is however under the direct leadership of the CMC. The army units in a military region are under the leadership of that military region. The navy and air force troops in a military region are under the joint leadership of the military region and their service branch.

2-3-2 Leadership Organizations of the Military Services

On November 11, 1949 the Air Force leadership structure was established and the Navy leadership the following April. In 1950 the leadership structures of the artillery, armored troops, air defense troops, public security forces, and worker – soldier militias were also established. Later were established the leadership organizations of other forces such as the chemical warfare defense forces [fang huaxue bing], the railroad forces [tielu bing], the communications forces, and the second artillery [di er paobing].

The leadership of each type of military force is under the leadership and management of the corresponding part of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee. Forces under each military branch or force such as subordinate forces, academies and schools, scientific research and engineering institutions, logistical support organizations etc. are also under the leadership of the CMC. This arrangement has been especially useful as China has over the past several decades moved increasingly towards military organizations composed of forces from more than one military branch. In September 1982, in order to meet the needs of military modernization and to improve coordination in the command of forces including multiple service branches and to strengthen unified command of the military, the CMC ordered that the leadership organization of the various military branches be abolished. The PLA now has Air Force, Navy and Second Artillery leadership organs.

In 1986, the People’s Armed Forces Department, except in some border regions, was put under the joint leadership of the PLA and the local authorities. Although the local Party organizations paid close attention to the People’s Armed Forces Department, as a result of some practical problems, the CMC decided that after April 1, 1996 the People’s Armed Forces Department [Renmin Wuzhuang Bu] will be under once again be under the PLA.

Section 3 The Political Work System [in the PRC Military]

3-1 The lifeline of the People’s Military

The political work system of the People’s Liberation Army implements the absolute leadership of the Communist Party over the military. It is a fundamental guarantee of the strengthening and maintenance of military’s ability to fight and is the lifeline of the people’s military. Already in 1929, the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee gave this instruction to the Fourth Route Red Army: the lifeblood of the Red Army is political work. ….

From the very beginning Communist Party members such as Mao Zedong established political work in the military in response to the needs of China’s national revolutionary struggle and to the needs of developing the military. Party organizations were established in each level of military organization, Party representatives were named, the old system of military authority was ended and a new relationship established between officers and soldiers. ….

3-2 The Party Committee System

All PLA units at the division level and above periodically call together a Party committee composed of committee members elected by the various lower level [military] Party committees of subordinate levels of the unit. The Party standing committee and the Party committee are the Party’s leading organs at each level of military organization. The Party standing committee, which operates when the Party committee is not in session, exercises unified leadership over the work of the unit. At the regimental level and in organizations at the regimental level, party grassroots committees are established. At lower level units party branch committees are established and at the squad and platoon level, there are also party subcommittees [dang xiaozu].

The party committee system is the result of the long experience of the Chinese Communist Party in exercising leadership over the military during the long revolutionary struggle. In May 2004, the CMC issued the “Chinese Communist Party Military Committee Work Regulations (Draft)”. These are the first regulations that focus on establishing a framework for party committee work in the military since the founding of New China. These regulations are the foundation of all the work done by communist party committees at various levels in the military. These regulations thoroughly implement the important ideology of the “Three Represents” and the spirit of the Sixteenth CPC Party Congress. The regulations, based on the Communist Party Charter and the “Political Work Regulations”, make full use of the traditional and lessons learned in Party work throughout the military over the years. The regulations clearly define the guiding ideology, principles, work responsibilities, procedures, system etc of Party political work in the military.

Under the “Party Committee Work Regulations” currently in effect, Party committee members at each level of Party organization in the military must uphold the principle of democratic centralism and diligently carry out the tasks of the command division of labor responsibility system set by the collective leadership of the Party Committee.

Specifically, this means:

  1. The Party committee exercises unified command over the unit. All important decisions must be discussed and decided by the Party Committee. In an emergency, the military commander can take provisional measures but afterwards must promptly report to the Party committee and accept their investigation.
  2. Uphold collective leadership. All important issues must be democratically discussed and then decided upon collectively by the Party Committee. The Secretary and the Committee members have equal privileges. One individual acting along may not make the decision or alter the decision of the Committee.
  3. Once the Party Committee has made a decision, it will be implemented according to the command division of labor responsibility system. If the decision has to do with military matters, the military commander will be responsible for implementation. If the matter has to do with political work, committee members will be responsible for organizing and carrying out the decision. The military commander must follow the leadership of the Party Committee, carry out the decisions of the Party Committee, and vigorously carry out responsibilities. The Party Committee and the military commander should work together closely and support one another. The Party Committee must put the military commander under collective leadership and, at the same time, respect the authority of the commander, and encourage the commander to exercise those responsibilities vigorously and to take the initiative.

Putting into practice the command division of labor responsibility system requires the implementation of the Party meeting system, the Party work report system, and the Party committee member democratic life meeting system. The Party Committee has two parts: the full committee and the standing committee. The standing committee decides on the daily matters of the military unit. The full Party Committee meets once or twice annually and has special meetings when needed. The standing committee makes periodic reports to the full committee at its own level and at the next higher level. The work report is ordinary drafted by the party committee secretary and vice party committee secretary. The party democratic life meeting generally is held during the meeting of the standing committee although sometimes during the meeting of the full committee. The Party democratic life meeting must be held at least twice annually. The meeting is usually held when work is being summarized at the mid year and at the end of the year, although it can be held at other times as needed.

    1. Political Commissar System

PLA units of division level or above or other units equivalent to the division (tuan) level or above, and as necessary PLA units at the regimental (ying) level or above or other units equivalent to the regimental level or above, shall designate a political commissar. At the regimental level or equivalent will be designated a political educator (zhengzhi jiaodaoyuan), at the regiment there will be designated a political guidance officer [zhengzhi zhidaoyuan]. These are the component parts of an important system for carrying out political work in the military – the political commissar system. The political commissar system is an important system that ensures through administrative work the absolute leadership of the Party over the military.

A political commissar must have been a Party member for five years or more. In military administrative work at that level, the political commissar and the military commanding officer at that level are both commanders of the unit. Under the leadership of the Party committee at the level, the two are jointly responsible for every aspect of the work of their unit. The political commissar is directly subordinate to the command of the unit at the next higher level. In political work, the political commissar is subordinate to the political commissar and to political organizations at the next higher level. In military affairs, the political commissar is subordinate to the military commander and to military organizations at the next higher level. The political commissar handles daily work on behalf of the Party committee. The political commissar concentrates on organizing and leading political work, ideological work and party development work in the military unit as well as all political aspects of aspects of military work including coordinating the work of various military organizations at the same level which organize the direct warfare, leading the work of ensuring the proper execution of warfare tasks, and training. The political commissar ensures that the unit carries out the tasks assigned to it by higher authority and countersigns each order with the military commander at the same level. When the political commissar and the military commander cannot come to agreement on an issue, they should pass the issue to the Party committee to discuss and decide or ask that the next higher command level decide. In an emergency, the military commander will decide military matters while the political commissar will decide political matters. However both are still responsible to the Party committee and to higher authority. In this case, they must made a report after the fact and accept the enquiry into the matter.

The regimental political teacher and the company (lian) political guidance officers are jointly with the military regimental and company commanders the commanders of their units. They are under the joint command of the commander and the political organization at the next higher level as well as the regimental or company Party branch at the level of their unit. They are jointly responsible for every aspect of the work of the regiment or company. They concentrate on organizing and leading political work. They carry out, according to their level, the daily work of either the regimental level Party committee or to the company level Party branch. Political guidance officers [zhengzhi jiaodaoyuan] must have been members of the Communist Party for at least three years. A political instruction officer [zhengzhi zhidaoyuan] must be a full member of the Communist Party.

3-4 Political Organization System [Zhengzhi Jiguan Zhidu]

The People’s Liberation Army establishes a political section at the division level and in all units equivalent to the division level and establishes a political department at the corps level and all units equivalent to the corps level as well as a political department for the entire PLA. The political organization system is a system established by the Communist Party to carry out the political and organizations work of the Party within the military.

The political organization is the Party’s organization for carrying out work within the military. It is the leading organization for carrying out the Party’s work in the military and for leading political work. Within the political organization ordinarily establishes departments on organization, cadre, propaganda, guard, culture, relations with the public (qunzhong), liaison, and secretariat. The state also established in the general political department, the political departments of each military region, in the navy, air force, provincial military and other units military courts and military prosecutorial units [jianchayuan].

The general political department is the highest political organization in the military and carries out its work under the direct leadership of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the Military Commission of the Central Committee (aka Central Military Commission CMC). The general political department and all the political organizations below it carry out there work under the leadership of the political organization above it and the party committee and political committee at the same military level. The most important tasks of the political organizations at all levels is, according to decision, orders and instructions from higher levels and the decisions of the Party committee at the same level, according to the fundamental tasks and topics of political work in the military in the new period, depending upon the specific situation of the unit, to establish a political work plan, make arrangements for carrying out various kinds of work, lead the troops in studying Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, carry out education on the basic line of the Party, foster the development of socialist spiritual culture, develop the Party, cadres and troops. These tasks include making surveys and research in order to summarize and build upon experience, and to see to it that the Party line, overall direction and policies as well as the State constitution and laws are carried out in the military. As a result of long experience, a system and norms have already been established which define the nature, position, organization etc of the political organization in the military. The “The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Political Work Regulations” have clear stipulations on these points. The establishment of the political organization of the PLA ensures that the Chinese Communist Party has a reliable organization for its work in the military.

Section 4 Military Service System

    1. The “Two Combines” [Draftees and Volunteers] Military Service System
    2. The Officer and Soldier Active Duty System
    3. The Cadre System and the Officer Military Rank System
    4. Civilian Guards and Reserve System
    5. Military Education System and National Defense Mobilization System


浦兴祖的书《中华人民共和国政治制度》我喜欢。因为很难拔脱美国资产阶级的政治思想,这本很有系统地介绍中国政治制度包括它的核心– 中国独特的一个党独大的人民民主的专政–给我的启发相当大。因为我80年代初在台湾住了三年,我注意到中共的军事制度很像国民党  — 不是国家军而是执政党的军队,有政治委员制度 — 国民党,共产党都是从苏联的红军与20年代初共产党国际派到中国的军事顾问学的。下面我写这本书的第11章 国家军事制度英文翻译摘要。 高大伟







浦兴祖 1945年12月生,祖籍浙江嘉善。复旦大学国际关系与公共事务学院教授、上海市政治学会常务理事、上海市公共行政教学研究会副理事长、上海市人大常委会决策咨询专家、中央社会主义学院政党制度研究中心学术顾问,系中国恢复政治学学科后,在此领域潜心教研的第一批学者之一,是当代中国政治制度研究领域的拓荒者之一。主要著述有:国内第一部《当代中国政治制度》(主编,上海人民出版社,1990年);香港三联书店版《中华人民共和国政治制度》(主著,1995年);上海人民出版社版《中华人民共和国政治制度》(主编,1999年);复旦大学出版社版《当代中国政治制度》(主编,1999年)。此外,还主编或参撰《当代中国行政》《西方政治学说史》等著作或教材10余部,发表论文近百篇。主要成果被许多重点高校指定为教材或“考研”…


· 《中华人民共和国政治制度》



第1章 人民代表大会制度

第2章 全国人民代理大会

第3章 地方各级人民代表大会

第4章 选举制度

第5章 国家元首制度

第6章 国家行政制度

第7章 国务院

第8章 地方各级人民政府

第9章 国家公务制度

第10章 司法制度

第11章 国家军事制度

第12章 国家结构制度

第13章 民族区域自治制度

第14章 特别行政区制度

第15章 人民直接参与制度

第16章 中国共产党领导的多党合作制度

第17章 中国共产党组织体系与主要制度

第18章 中国各民主党派组织体系与主要制度

第19章 政治协商制度




About 高大伟 David Cowhig

Retired now, translated Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and studying some things. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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