Before the United Front nowadays, CPC organized "National Revolution United Front"(國民革命統一戰綫) with KMT during the Northern Expedition and then "Workers' and Peasants' Democratic United Front"(工農民主統一戰綫) in the Chinese Soviet Republic era.
Originally the "Anti-Japanese National United Front"(抗日民族統一戰綫) -- indicating that the proletarian Chinese Communists was united with the bourgeoisie against Imperial Japan -- the organization's "structure" was first deployed by Mao Zedong in the 1930s. It "assumed its current form" in 1946, three years before the Chinese Communist Party defeated the Republican Kuomintang ("Nationalist") government of Chiang Kai-shek. Mao credited the United Front with being one of his "Three Magic Weapons" against the Kuomintang -- the other two being 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 de factoone-party state, the United Front parties have nominal representation in the National People's Congress.
"In building socialism it is essential to rely on workers, peasants and intellectuals and to unite all forces that can be united. In the long years of revolution and construction, there has been formed under the leadership of the Communist Party of China a broad patriotic united front which is composed of the democratic parties and people’s organizations and which embraces all socialist working people, all builders of socialism, all patriots who support socialism, and all patriots who stand for the reunification of the motherland. This united front will continue to be consolidated and developed. The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a broadly based representative organization of the united front which has played a significant historical role, will play a still more important role in the country’s political and social life, in promoting friendship with other countries and in the struggle for socialist modernization and for the reunification and unity of the country. The system of the multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China will exist and develop for a long time to come."
The two organs affiliated with United Front are the United Front Work Department and the more high-profile Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (C.P.P.C.C.). 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 C.C.P.’s central committee. It oversees a dozen organizations such as the European and American Alumni Association. It helps 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.