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Digital Archive International History Declassified

July 08, 1949


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    Report on the history of Chinese Communist Party, membership data, and party demographics
    "Information about the Strength and Social Composition of the Communist Party of China," July 08, 1949, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI, f. 558, op. 11, d. 328, ll. 90-94. Translated by Gary Goldberg.
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The Communist Party of China came into existence in 1921. The growth of the Party is closely connected with the victories or defeats of the Chinese Revolution. In 1927 the number of Party members reached approximately 50,000, but after the defeat of the Revolution it was reduced to 10,000. So it was, too, at other stages of the Revolution. During the years of the war with Japan the Party strength rose rapidly and by the time of Japan's surrender it numbered 1,210,000 members. At the present time the ranks of the CCP (according to incomplete information) number more than 3,300,000 people.

An absolute majority of Party members are located on the territory of the liberated regions of China and only an insignificant part [are located] in the Guomindang regions, which is evident form the following table:

Number of members of territorial Party organizations

Number of members of the Party in the troops

Total number of Party members


Northwest China




Central China




Party members in regular units are also included here

Eastern China




Party members in the army are limited only by local troops






North China




Party members in east Hebei are included here

In headquarters staffs


In Guomindang regions


1946 data





With regard to the size of the population Party members constitute: in North China - 2.7% of the entire population; in East China - 1.8%, and in Manchuria - 1.6%.

Party organizations in the cities are generally small and weak, but now this situation has already begun to change. For example, in February of last year the Party organization of Shijiazhuang accepted 82 people into its ranks (30% [of them] workers); in April of this year 302 new Party members were among those accepted by this same Party organization, and workers were 58.9% [of them].

By length of Party service among the Party members of North China, 0.02% were Party members who joined its ranks between 1925 and 1927; 0.7% joined in the years of the 10-year agrarian revolution; 45.2% joined during the years of the war with Japan; and 54% joined after Japan's surrender.

Among the Party members of North China 60.9% are illiterate, 13.6% are semi-literate, 19.7% have graduated a primary school; 4.3% have graduated a higher primary school, one percent have an incomplete secondary school education, 0.34% have a complete secondary school education, and 0.09% have graduated from a university.

Per December 1948 data among the Party members of North China 42,992 (4.1%) were workers, 38,741 (3.7%) were farmhands, 26,498 (2.5%) were the urban poor, 446,799 (42.8%) were poor peasants, 7,748 (0.7%) were soldiers, 405,219 (38.8%) were middle peasants, 3,473 (0.3%) were office workers, 5,309 (0.5%) were kulaks, 42,980 (4.1%) were students, 1,130 (0.1%) were landowners, 8,898 (0.8%) were artisans and craftsmen, 6,207 (0.6%) were people of the free professions, and 5,726 (0.5%) were others.

Activists who were poor peasants and farmhands constitute an enormous majority among the newly-accepted Party members in North China during the period of agrarian reform, and middle peasants are a minority.

By the time of the victory over Japan the social composition of the CCP with respect to poor and middle peasants had not especially changed, but the number of middle peasants of a new type had quintupled.

In the first period of the war against Japan local Party organizations made serious mistakes, expressed in forcible recruitment, which considerably worsened the social composition and ideological situation inside the Party.

Right now the CCP has about 150,000 Party cells, among which 80% are rural. According to March 1949 information among the 34,835 cells in Eastern China 31,625 are rural, 2,362 are institutional, 214 are at factories and mines, 91 are in schools, and 76 unite the unorganized urban population.

According to June 1949 information among the 49,615 cells of North China 43,883 (84.4%) are rural, 4,059 (8.2%) are institutional, 759 (1.5%) are factory-based, and 914 (1.8%) are in schools.

In Manchuria the number of rural Party cells is somewhat less and constitutes 60% of the total number.

The weakness of Party organizations is expressed in the low political level of Party members, in organizational dispersion, in an undemocratic style of work, and the lack of clarity in the distribution of the functions of Party organizations and state institutions, and in the lack of normal ties between Party organizations and the masses.

The total number of full-time [kadrovye] Party workers who do not work in production at the present time comes to one million. The majority of them joined the Party after the start of the war against Japan and only 20,000 [joined] before the start of the war against Japan; a total of 600 joined the Party in the period of the 1925-1927 Revolution.

The largest number among Party workers at the local level are [in] governmental and administrative institutions. For example, in Eastern China of the 94,402 Party workers 43,940 (or 46.5%) are engaged in administrative institutions, 23,178 in the Party apparatus, 12,628 in financial and economic institutions, 10,178 in mass organizations, and 4,478 in local armed detachments.

According to information of February of this year among the one million full-time Party workers the number of senior officials in the army (from corps commander and above), and in Party organizations (from secretaries of district provincial committees and above), number about 1,500 in the entire Party; from division commander and secretary of district [oblastnye] Party committee and above, more than 5,000. A considerable number of them joined the Party during the 1925-1927 Revolution and before.

In individual regions of East and North China the social composition of the senior Party officials is described as follows:

Among the members of Party committees from rural district [uyezd] to district the majority are students and peasants (who come from families of poor and middle peasants), and among officials at the regional [rayonnye] level the majority are peasants.

Among the 241 members of district [oblastnye i okruzhnye] Party committees of Eastern China (according to information of January of this year):

by social origin, two are workers, five are poor peasants, one is a craftsman-manufacturer, two are capitalists, four are farmhands, 62 are middle peasants, 27 are kulaks, 36 are landowners, and 16 are others. No social origin has been established for 57 people.

By social position:

six are workers, three are poor peasants, seven are soldiers, 10 are office workers, 99 are students, one is a craftsman-manufacturer, 23 are people of the free professions, three are farmhands, seven are middle peasants, one is a kulak, and two are others. No [social position] has been established for 71 people.

It is also a similar situation among the members of uyezd  Party committees. According to May 1948 information among the 481 members of uyezd Party committees of the provinces of Shanxi, Chahar [Translator's note, now divided among Shanxi, Hebei, and Inner Mongolia], and Hebei by social origin [are]:

four farmhands, 169 poor peasants, 267 middle peasants, 85 kulaks, 52 landowners, and four others.

And by social position:

49 are workers, 274 are peasants, 224 are students, and 34 are others.

Among the 38,000 Party officials at the regional [rayonnye] level (according to information of six district [oblast'] committees of North China) by social origin:

84 are workers, 162 are farmhands, 202 are from the urban poor, 6,092 are poor peasants, 9,980 are middle peasants, 16 are craftsmen-manufacturers, 1,042 are landowners, 48 are capitalists, 1,192 are kulaks, and 89 are from the free professions. By social position: 1,203 are workers, 484 are farmhands, 350 are poor peasants, 282 are soldiers, 3,910 are middle peasants, 291 are office workers, 209 are kulaks, 5,402 are students, 80 are landowners, 158 are craftsmen-manufacturers, and 406 are people of the free professions.

The majority of members of the district committees have a secondary education, but the majority of members of [uyezd] committees have only a primary education.

Among the rural-district-level officials in North China (according to December 1948 information) 83% have graduated primary school and lower.

Among the aforementioned 241 members of the oblast' and okruzhnye Party committees of Eastern China are 23 who have graduated higher educational institutions, 21 [who have graduated] a secondary school, 81 an incomplete secondary school, 27 a primary school, eight who are semi-literate, and one who is illiterate.

This information says that among the main Party cadre the number of workers is insignificant, peasants and students predominate, there are many landowners and kulaks, but by cultural level the majority of Party officials of
okruzhnoy and oblastnoy level have graduated a secondary school, but at the uyezdyy and rayonnyy level, [only] a primary school.

For a long time CCP Party cadre have accumulated work experience among the peasantry, but they do not have practical knowledge and the experience of Party work among the urban population, in governing cities, running industrial and commercial enterprises, and do not have sufficient experience in organizing trade union work. Their theoretical and cultural level is comparatively low, and [their] political maturity is insufficient.

In view of this, mid-level Party cadre often suffer from political blindness, and in a new situation they often vacillate, and tendencies appear of a leftist or rightist inclination and manifestations of a lack of discipline and anarchy.

[handwritten:   8.7.49   N. Kovalev]