Unravelling the Myths About Political Commissars

You Ji*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The political commissar is a unique phenomenon found only in communist societies. As such, it has been a topic that attracts a great deal of attention from researchers of civil-military relations. The reason for this is that political commissars have historically served as a defining feature in the interaction between the armed forces and ruling communist parties, and have served as the instruments of party control over the military.1 In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the political commissar system is one of three systems that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) relies on to control the gun (the other two being the party committee system and the political affairs network system).2 Jiang Zemin once said that these three systems are what make the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) different from all other armed forces in the world, including those in socialist countries.3 Based on this control over the armed forces, the CCP monopolizes both government and military power in China. Therefore, political commissars constitute the foundation of the communist system and the core of the ruling class in China.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil-Military Relations in Today's China
Subtitle of host publicationSwimming in a New Sea
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781317474357
ISBN (Print)9780765616593
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


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