Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Directly from China

Xinhua, the source of this article, is the Chinese government's news agency. This article could be an excerpt from a Chinese textbook on the regime in the Peoples Republic of China.

People's congresses: democracy behind China's success story
China's system of people's congresses is in the spotlight again as the fifth session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature [opened] Sunday.

Rather than creating policy conundrums or delays -- as is often the case with parliaments in some Western nations when the ruling party or coalition does not hold a majority -- the people's congress system lends support to and supervises the government to achieve effective governance and rule of law…

According to the Constitution, the people's congress system is the fundamental political system in China, with about 2.6 million deputies at various levels.

At the pinnacle of the system sits the NPC, which supervises the State Council, China's cabinet, as well as the top court and procuratorate.

With nearly 3,000 deputies, the NPC is different from the legislatures in Western political systems.

In China's political system, the NPC is the supreme organ of state power. The central government, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate answer to the NPC and are supervised by it. In the West, the parliament stands equally with the administration and justice arms, and the three balance and checks each another.

This vertical design has the advantages of uniting different forces in governance and avoiding internal frictions…

Compared with legislators in the West who make politics their career and usually have a staff and campaign team, NPC deputies are part-time and many of them are ordinary citizens.

A deputy to the NPC can be the country's president or a farmer, a celebrated tycoon or a migrant worker, a lawyer or an official…

Though they are part-time, NPC deputies are actively engaged in state affairs. At the annual full session, they review and vote on important legal documents and personnel changes, including electing president and vice president of China every five years, as well as submit motions and proposals.

At the 2016 session they approved the country's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020), a fundamental guide to ensuring China becomes a well-off society. This year the deputies will review the draft general provisions of civil law of China, a landmark move by China to step up protection of civil rights and advance rule of law…

There are five levels of people's congresses. The deputies are elected by their respective constituencies, either directly or indirectly. NPC deputies are elected by the people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. At the lower levels of township and county, deputies to people's congresses are elected directly by voters…

Unlike multi-party systems in the West, there are no majority party or minority parties in the NPC. The NPC upholds the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The proposition of the CPC becomes the will of the state upon the approval of the NPC…

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