China Democratic League
Zhōngguó Mínzhǔ Tóngméng
ChairpersonDing Zhongli
Founded19 March 1941; 81 years ago (1941-03-19)
NewspaperGuangming Daily (光明日报)
Popular Tribune (群言)[1][2]
Central Communications of the League (中央盟讯)[3]
Membership (2020)330,600[4]
IdeologySocialism with Chinese characteristics[5]
Big tent
Multi-party democracy
National affiliationUnited Front
National People's Congress
58 / 2,980
NPC Standing Committee
9 / 175
Website Edit this at Wikidata
China Democratic League
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese中国民主同盟
Traditional Chinese中國民主同盟
Tibetan name
Zhuang name
ZhuangCunghgoz Minzcuj Dungzmungz
Mongolian name
Mongolian CyrillicДундад улсын ардчилсан холбоо
Mongolian scriptᠳᠤᠮᠳᠠᠳᠤ
ᠤᠯᠤᠰ ᠤᠨ
Uyghur name
Uyghurجۇڭگو دېموكراتىك ئىتتىپاقى
Manchu name
Manchu scriptᠮᡳᠨᠮᡝᠩ

The China Democratic League (CDL) is one of the eight legally recognised minor political parties in the People's Republic of China under the Chinese Communist Party's United Front. The CDL was originally founded in 1941 as an umbrella coalition group of the Chinese National Socialist Party, the Chinese Youth Party and the Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party to fight the Imperial Japanese Army while providing for a "Third Way".

After the end of World War II, the CDL and its left-wing constituent parties joined the United Front. By 2020, the party had grown to 330,600 members, making it the largest legally recognised minor political party in the People's Republic of China. Of all such parties it also has the most seats in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress at 9 seats. However, it has 58 seats in the National People's Congress, 6 less than the Jiusan Society.

As of 7 December 2020, pursuant to Executive Order 13936, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on all 14 Vice Chairpersons of the National People's Congress, including President Ding Zhongli of the China Democratic League, for "undermining Hong Kong's autonomy and restricting the freedom of expression or assembly."[7]


The China Democratic League was established in 1941 and took its present name in 1944. At its formation, it was a coalition of three pro-democracy parties and three pressure groups. Its two main goals were to support China's war effort during the Second Sino-Japanese War and to provide a centrist third option between the Nationalists and the Communists. Influential members or supporters included Zhang Dongsun, Zhang Junmai (Carson Chang), Luo Longji, Pan Guangdan, Huang Yanpei, Fei Xiaotong, Li Huang of the Young China Party, Wu Han, Chu Anping, and Wen Yiduo.[8]

After the war, many Americans in China were sympathetic to the League. Theodore White wrote that if "the men of the middle group were well organized, they could guarantee peace. But they are not. They lack an army, a political machine, roots in any social class. Only the spread of education and industry can create enough men of the modern world to give them a broad social base."[9]

In October 1945, the League released a report reaffirming its political commitments and outlining its goals.[6] In it, the League declared themselves to be neither left nor right, favouring neither liberal democracy nor socialist democracy. Although the report praised elements of Western liberal democracies, it also criticised the economic inequalities that existed in Western capitalist societies. The report thus concluded that the best form of democracy for China would incorporate elements of both "Western political democracy" and "Soviet economic democracy". To achieve this, the League hoped to work with both the Nationalists and the Communists in a coalition government to write a new constitution.[6] However, disillusionment with the Nationalist government, which outlawed the League in 1947, and infiltration by the Communists caused the League to lean towards the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) during the second phase of the Chinese Civil War.[citation needed] Thereafter, two of its constituent parties, the China National Socialist Party and the Chinese Youth Party, left the League to join the Nationalists in Taiwan. The remaining constituent party left later and eventually became the Chinese Peasants' and Workers' Democratic Party in February 1947.[10]

The three interest groups were the National Salvation Association, the Rural Reconstruction Association, and the Vocational Education Society. The NSA, by far the largest and most popular of the interest groups, was inspired by the National Salvation Armies and existed to encourage resistance against Japan, but became irrelevant after the war's end. The RRA was an agrarianist lobby formed from the Rural Reconstruction Movement, which was originally hostile to communism but their interests in peasant welfare gradually intersected. The third interest group, the Vocational Education Society, wanted to establish vocational schools throughout China and became the core of the China Democratic National Construction Association.[citation needed]

Its chairperson Zhang Lan served as the vice chairman of Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China from 1949 to 1954.

In 1997, the League adopted a constitution, which stipulated that its program was "to hold high the banner of patriotism and socialism, implement the basic line for the primary stage of socialism, safeguard stability in the society, strengthen services to national unity and strive for the promotion of socialist modernisation, establishment and improvement of a market economy, enhancement of political restructuring and socialist spiritual civilisation, emancipation and development of productive forces, consolidation and expansion of the united patriotic front and realisation of the grand goals of socialism with Chinese characteristics."[5]


The League is mainly made up of senior intellectuals in the fields of culture, education, natural and social sciences and technology. As of the end of 2012, the party had a membership of more than 282,000. Of this total, 22.8% were from the field of advanced education, 30.2% were from the field of compulsory education, 17.4% were in science and technology, 5.8% were in art and the press.[11]


  1. Huang Yanpei (黄炎培): 1941–1941
  2. Zhang Lan (张澜): 1941–1955
  3. Shen Junru (沈钧儒): 1955–1963
  4. Yang Mingxuan (杨明轩): 1963–1967
  5. Shi Liang (史良): 1979–1985
  6. Hu Yuzhi (胡愈之): acting, 1985–1986
  7. Chu Tunan (楚图南): 1986–1987
  8. Fei Xiaotong (费孝通): 1987–1996
  9. Ding Shisun (丁石孙): 1996–2005
  10. Jiang Shusheng (蒋树声): 2005–2012
  11. Zhang Baowen (张宝文): 2012–2017
  12. Ding Zhongli (丁仲礼): 2017–present[12]


  1. ^ 群言出版社. (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  2. ^ 中国民主同盟. (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  3. ^ 中央盟讯 (2020年第3期). (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  4. ^ 中国民主同盟简介. (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  5. ^ a b 中国民主同盟章程. (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 15 August 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Lutze, Thomas D. (2007). China's Inevitable Revolution: Rethinking America's Loss to the Communists (1st ed.). New York: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 59. ISBN 9780230608771. Retrieved 1 March 2021.
  7. ^ "Hong Kong-related Designations". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2021-07-27.
  8. ^ Roads Not Taken: The Struggle of Opposition Parties in Twentieth Century China, Edited by Roger B. Jeans. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1992.
  9. ^ Theodore H. White and Annalee Jacoby, Thunder Out of China (NY: William Sloane Associates, Inc. 1946): 313.
  10. ^ Hinton, Harold C. (1 May 1958). "The "Democratic Parties": End of an Experiment?". Problems of Communism. 7 (3): 39.
  11. ^ 中国民主同盟简介 (in Chinese). China Democratic League. Retrieved Dec 22, 2017.
  12. ^ 中国民主同盟第十二届中央委员会. (in Chinese (China)). Retrieved 15 August 2018.