Presentation Outline II. Political Institutions • The Parallel Structure • The Executive Branch • The Legislative Branch • The Judicial Branch • Village elections • Communist Party Factions
II. a)Parallel Structure China is a one-party state. The Chinese Communist Party influences the government, not the other way around. There is a great deal of overlap between the Party and Government positions.
II. b)The Executive Branch • President • Prime Minister • State Council • Standing Committee of the Politburo- Party • General Secretary of the Communist Party-Party • Succession Crisis Government
President- Head of State • Largely a ceremonial position • Elected by the National People’s Congress since 1982 in accordance with the Constitution • Limited to two successive five year terms • It has been the practice since Jiang Zemin that the President also holds the more powerful and important positions of General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Comussion thus making him paramount leader
China’s Presidents* all were/are also Party General Secretaries and Paramount leaders 1993-2003 2003-2013 2013-? Jiang Zemin HuJintao Xi Jinping
Premier-Head of Government • Nominated by the President and approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC); in practice, however, it is the Standing Committee of the Politburo which chooses the Premier • Limited to two successive 5 year terms • Head of the State Council • Nominates a Government Cabinet • Overseas the Cabinet ministries Current Premier WenJiabao How does the Chinese Premier differ from the British Prime Minister?
State Council • Highest executive function in the Government • 35 members total • Meets every 6 months • Includes a state council standing committee which meets weekly • Members include the Premier, Vice-premiers, and Cabinet Ministers • Members are nominated by the Premier and approved by the National People’s Congress(NPC) • They decide policy and draft legislation which they later present to the National People’s Congress (NPC) • All State Council members are also Communist Party members
Standing Committee of the Politburo • In practice it is the most powerful body in the People’s Republic of China • 9 members total are selected by the National Party Congress • Includes the General Secretary of the CPC • Influences and supervises all levels of the Party and Government • Decisions are made by consensus- democratic centralism
Standing Committee of the Politburo Members Recognize anyone?
General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party • More powerful than the presidency • Since 1993, the presidency/general secretary of the CPC has been held by one man • The General Secretary also sits on the Standing Committee of the Politburo • Since Jiang Zemin, the General Secretary is also the chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him commander in chief of China’s armed forces
China’s CPC General Secretaries* the position was formerly called Chairman 1949-1976 1976-1981 1982-1987 1987-1989 1989-2002 2002-present Mao Zedong HuaGuofeng HuYaobang Zhao Ziyang Jiang Zemin HuJintao * HuYaobang and Zhao Ziyang were never paramount leaders as they did not control the Central Military Affairs Commission
Do you think the head of state should also be commander in chief of the armed forces? Succession Crisis • After Mao died in 1976 a succession crisis emerged. • The Government of China and Communist Party had no mechanism to choose the paramount leader. • Deng Xiaoping emerged as paramount leader in 1981 when he wrested control of the Central Military Commission from HuaGuofeng • Deng never held the titles of President or General Secretary • In 1989, Deng relinquished control over the Central Military Commission to Jiang Zemin • From 1993-present it has been the practice that the President, General Secretary, and Chairman of the Military Commission be held by the same person. This has averted anymore succession crises.
II. b) The Legislative Branch • The National People’s Congress- Government • The Party Congress - Party
The National People’s Congress (NPC) • Responsible for creating and amending legislation • Meets once or twice annually • Members are selected from the Provincial People’s Congresses • Dominated by the Communist Party • Presence of non-Party members, though they do NOT function as an opposition • In theory, the NPC has supreme authority in China; in practice, however, it is subordinate to the Party and the Standing Committee of the Politburo • The NPC has been described as a rubber stamp legislature; although in recent years the NPC has opposed non-politically sensitive issues such as gas taxes
Good source on the NPC’s lack of political power: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7922720.stm
The National Party Congress • Meets once every five years • Reviews and amends the Chinese Communist Party Constitution • Selects members to the powerful Central Committee • Since the mid 1990s has instituted a mandatory retirement age for Party leaders (67 years)
II. c) The Judicial Branch • Judges are appointed by the National People’s Congress (NPC) • The Judicial Branch cannot be considered independent since the Communist Party influences the Judicial Branch at all court levels • Judges are also normally members of the Communists Party
Rule of Law or Rule by Law? Rule of Law: No one is above the law. Those who follow as well as those who govern must obey and respect the law. Signs of emerging rule of law: 1979 Legal Code Civil and Criminal appeals procedures Growing legal profession Obstacles to rule of law: prevalence of guanxi and corruption Influence of the Communist Party Inability or unwillingness to enforce laws (intellectual property) Rule by Law: Leaders govern according to laws, at least superficially. The laws may serve those in power to the detriment of those without power.
II. d) Village Elections • Introduced in the early 1980s by Deng Xiaoping • representative democracy- open to all villagers over 18 years of age • Electing members to the Local People’s Congress for a 3 year term • In theory, elections are competitive; in practice, however, only Communist Party members and “approved” non-Party members have been allowed to compete
II. e) Communist Party Factions • Since there is no formal opposition, dissent and opposition is usually confined to the Communist Party in the practice of democratic centralism • At times, factions have co-existed in the Party peacefully; at other times, this has led to crises, most notably: the succession crisis after Mao Zedong’s death, and the Tiananmen Square student demonstrations (1989)
Discussion Questions • Many political scientists consider Russia and China both undemocratic. Yet, Russia is technically a procedural democracy, whereas China is authoritarian. Explain. • The National People’s Congress is considered a rubber stamp legislature. Is this a fair description? Do you see any similarities with Russia’s Duma? • Are village elections the beginning of real democracy in China, or simply a control mechanism for the Party? • In which aspects is China moving towards the rule of law? In which aspects does China appear to be resisting the rule of law?