United Front (China)
The United Front in China is a popular front of the legally permitted parties in the country, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC). Besides the CPC, it includes eight minor parties and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce. It is managed by the CPC Central Committee United Front Work Department. Its current department head is You Quan. The member parties of the Front are completely subservient to the CPC, and must accept the "leading role" of the CPC as a condition of their continued existence.
The CPC organized the "National Revolution United Front" with the Kuomintang during the Northern Expedition of 1926-1928 and then the "Workers' and Peasants' Democratic United Front" in the Chinese Soviet Republic era of 1931-1937. Mao Zedong originally promoted the "Anti-Japanese National United Front", with the name indicating that the proletarian Chinese Communists had united with the bourgeoisie against Imperial Japan in the 1930s. It "assumed its current form" in 1946, three years before the Chinese Communist Party defeated the authoritarian governing party Kuomintangs "Nationalist government" of Chiang Kai-shek. Mao credited the United Front as one of his "Three Magic Weapons" against the Kuomintang-alongside the Leninist Chinese Communist party and the Red Army-and credited the Front with playing a part in his victory.
The United Front holds no real power independent of the Communist Party of China; it exists mainly to give non-Communist forces a platform in the society of the People's Republic. The CPC's relationship with other parties is based on the principle of "long-term coexistence and mutual supervision, treating each other with full sincerity and sharing weal or woe". Its leaders are mostly selected by the Communist Party, or are themselves CPC members. This process is institutionalized in the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Although China is a one-party state, the United Front parties have nominal representation in the National People's Congress.
The two organs affiliated with United Front are the United Front Work Department and the more high-profile Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). According to Yi-Zheng Lian, the organs "are often poorly understood outside China because there are no equivalents for them in the West".
The United Front Work Department is headed by the chief of the secretariat of the CCP's Central Committee. It oversees a dozen organizations such as the Chinese Students and Scholars Association. It helps (for example) Chinese students and academics training or residing in the West, enjoining them to conduct "people diplomacy" on behalf of the People's Republic of China.