China Political System

According to, with capital city of Beijing, China is a country located in Eastern Asia with total population of 1,439,323,787.

Where is China

State and politics

China’s current constitution, which is the fourth in order since the Communists took power, was adopted in 1982. It states that the People’s Republic of China is a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship, a concept first defined by Mao Zedong in the article “On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship” in 1949 The National People’s Congress (NFK), whose nearly 3,000 deputies are elected for a period of five years, has the legislative power and is the highest body of state power. Since it only meets once a year, it is represented in between by its standing committee, which has about 150 members. NFK is elected by national congresses at the next lower level, which in turn is elected by national congresses at the level below. People’s congresses at the lowest level are elected by the Chinese people. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how CH can stand for China.

From 1949 until 1954, when the first constitution under the Communist Party (CCP) government was adopted and the NFK was established, the Chinese People’s Political Advisory Conference (KFPRK) served as the highest body of state power. Although the NFK has taken over this role, the KFPRK still exists, but now above all to mobilize forces outside the CCP to build up the country. NFK’s duties include: to appoint the government, the government, which is the highest executive body in the country.

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The Cabinet includes the Prime Minister, several Deputy Prime Ministers, as well as Ministers and Ministers for a variety of commissions and ministries. NFK also appoints the leadership of the Central Military Commission, the People’s Supreme Court, the People’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and the President, whose role is primarily ceremonial. The presidential post, which was established in 1954, was vacant from 1968 to 75 and gone in the 1975 and 1978 constitutions, but was re-established in 1982. Since 1993, the practice has been that the Communist Party Secretary-General is appointed president.


Theoretically, a distinction is made between the power exercised by the state bodies mentioned above and the political leadership function that the CCP exercises. But in practice, it is the party that has the decisive influence over China’s policy, and the NFC’s role is primarily to confirm decisions already made by the party. The party’s leading body is the National Party Congress (NPK) and the Central Committee (CK). According to the party statutes, NPK shall meet every five years and then choose CK, which shall hold at least one plenary per year.

At the 19th party congress, held in October 2017, 204 people were elected members of CK. CK appoints the Politburo (25 persons in 2017, one of whom is a woman) and the Politburo’s standing committees (seven persons in 2017), in which normally the leaders within the party will have a seat.

The 19th Party Congress reaffirmed President Xi Jinping’s strong grip on political power. A clear signal about his status was that he was named in the party charter. That a leader during his lifetime is named in the Charter is unusual and had not happened since Mao Zedong’s time.

The highest position in the party is now the Secretary-General, since the chairmanship, which was held by Mao Zedong in 1943-76, was abolished in 1982. Among the other organs of the party are the Secretariat, the Military Commission, the Central Discipline Inspection Commission and the departments for eg. propaganda, organization and international relations. In 1982, the Central Advisory Commission was established to give senior leaders a place in politics after their departure; however, this body was abolished in 1992. See for vocational training in China.

In addition to the CCP, there are the eight “democratic parties”, all of which were founded before 1949, most of them in the 1940s. During the first years after 1949, their leading members held high posts in society, but during the “anti-right campaign” in 1957 many of these parties were stamped as “right-wing elements”. The persecution culminated during the Cultural Revolution, when the parties’ activities ceased altogether. From the end of the 1970s they became active again, but like some real opposition parties to the CCP, they never worked. In total, they had about one million members in 2018, which is to be compared with the CCP’s 89 million. In 1998, an attempt was made to form a real opposition party, China’s Democratic Party, but it was stopped and the leading representatives imprisoned.

In connection with the launch of Charter 2008, which includes demanded the abolition of the one-party system and an independent judicial system, one of the leaders behind this manifesto, Liu Xiaobo, was imprisoned. He was sentenced the following year to eleven years in prison on suspicion of “attempting to undermine state power”. Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, something that angered the Chinese leadership. Liu Xiaobo was still imprisoned when he died in 2017 in cancer.

Political features

During the first half of the more than seventy years the CCP enjoyed power in China, politics was characterized by political campaigns, severe ideological throws and power struggles within the party. Periods when the class struggle and political cleanliness were at the center alternated with periods when the production and build-up of the country were considered most important. The political campaigns led to purges within the party and reaped several millions of victims among the population.

Deng Xiaoping’s career was an example of the whims of Chinese politics. Already in the 1930s he was dismissed from his post and in 1968-73 and 1976-77 he was deprived of all his posts. When he became China’s leading politician in 1978, he advocated that the judicial system be strengthened, but still, as before in China’s history, there was a tangible pull of personal rule rather than law rule under his leadership.

However, a progress compared to Maotiden’s favor was that both the party’s and the state apparatus’s leading bodies held their meetings regularly. A development towards a more consensus-making decision-making among the highest leadership layer occurred after Deng’s death in 1997 under the leadership of Jiang Zemin (1989-2002) and Hu Jinto*s (2002-12) leadership, respectively. However, this pattern was broken by Xi Jinping, who since 2012 has concentrated more power around his person. In March 2018, the National People’s Congress passed an amendment to the Constitution that allows the President to sit for more than two terms (10 years). It opens up for Xi Jinping to stay in power after 2023.

During Jiang Zemin’s and Hu Jinto’s leadership, some changes were made to increased outspokenness and pluralism in society. The judiciary was strengthened and gained more importance, forms of political participation were tested at the local level, social media had a major impact and a civil society in the form of socially oriented organizations emerged.

Since Xi Jinping took power in 2012, political repression has gradually increased. Censorship and propaganda have been strengthened and academic freedom has diminished. The scope for social organizations to operate has been limited and the tolerance of dissimilar thinking has decreased.

An important part of Xi Jinping’s policy has been the fight against corruption. This has resulted in a large number of high-ranking politicians being imprisoned and sentenced, including Zhou Yongkang (born 1942), who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2015. Zhou is the first former member of the Politburo’s standing committee sentenced to prison.

The anti-corruption campaign has partly resulted in reduced corruption, as politicians are afraid of reprisals and are therefore more cautious. However, it is clear that Xi’s fight against corruption is largely a tool for accessing its political opponents. Before the 19th Party Congress in 2017, 17 members of the Central Committee had been dismissed for corruption. Previous congresses have involved one or two members who have been set aside prematurely.

The most notable challenge to the CCP following Deng’s death came from the Falun Gong movement, which was banned in 1999. Practitioners were persecuted and the movement was heavily criticized in Chinese media.


The traditional Chinese legal culture has been greatly influenced by Confucianism, with its negative attitude to private law norms and a preference for morally resting settlements and compromises. Therefore, in the modern sense, China gained legal status only after the fall of the empire, when the Guomindang regime introduced a number of large statutes with Western European role models. However, these never seem to have been reflected in the legal life of the broad masses.

In connection with the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, all the civil laws were repealed. Some half-hearted plans to codify Chinese law were abandoned as early as the 1950s. the Ministry of Justice was abolished and all academic law education ceased. The Cultural Revolution led to a total breakdown for the few remaining remnants of the legal community.

The new leadership that took power after the Cultural Revolution realized that a market-oriented economic development requires a sophisticated legal system. A comprehensive legislative program was implemented, especially in the early and mid 1980s. The judicial organization is relatively complicated, with a number of specialized courts and several courts. In the everyday life of the population, however, the written laws seem to play a relatively small role, as mediation and conciliation are preferred.

The Western justice system in criminal cases is draconian in a Western perspective, with the death penalty for a number of crimes and public mass executions. China does not share information on the number of death sentences executed, but is, according to Amnesty International estimates, the country in the world that kills most people.

Human Rights

Violations of human rights in China are particularly evident in political, civil and religious rights. The strong economic development in China in recent decades has raised the standard of living for most Chinese people, and with it there has also been an improvement in social rights, such as the right to education and health care.

However, persecution of political and religious dissent has escalated since the 1990s. The increased repression has taken place since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

China has signed the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the Convention on Civil and Political Rights. However, the latter has not been ratified by China’s parliament.

Western democracies often criticize China for its lack of respect for human rights. On the part of China, criticism is addressed partly because the issue is China’s internal concern, and partly because the view on human rights differs between China and other parts of the world, such as the United States and Europe.

The Chinese government claims that the country’s view of human rights is based on a different cultural tradition that places greater emphasis on collective rights than individual rights. Furthermore, economic and social development is seen as more important than political and civil rights.

Civil and political rights

Freedom of speech and freedom of expression have always been severely limited in communist China. Nevertheless, periods of somewhat greater openness have occurred. The Internet and, in particular, the emergence of social media in the late 1990s gave rise to a brief period of somewhat freer debate.

Some news media, such as the Guangdong-based Nanfang Group, have been able to report on politically sensitive issues at times. Investigative journalism was also emerging until the beginning of the 2010s. Under Xi Jinping’s rule, the censorship of media and the Internet has been significantly strengthened. In the years 2015-17, China was ranked 176 out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.

As a legal system has emerged in China, a growing group of lawyers have focused on rights issues. These human rights lawyers were supported at the beginning of the regime as a way of strengthening legal work in China. As more and more criticism from these groups began to be directed at the state, they gradually became perceived as a threat.

On July 9, 2015, the regime initiated a major strike against human rights lawyers, which until 2018 resulted in more than 200 of these being taken care of. Many have been sentenced to prison. At the same time, the regime carried out a campaign against organizations that worked for workers’ rights. Some of these had previously served as informal unions but few of them remained in 2018.

The Communist Party has largely concentrated on preventing independent political organizations from developing. There is some room for the formation of civil society organizations working on social issues such as the environment and poverty reduction. These associations usually consist of a few employees, but in some cases they have been able to drive issues and also to some extent have influenced the policy in their limited areas.

Until 2013, these organizations were on the rise and growing in number. Since 2016, however, new laws and directives have made it difficult for many organizations to operate because the Communist Party has further strengthened their control over them. For example, all organizations that have party members among their staff must form party groups that will report on the activities to the local party committee.

Freedom of religion

After the religious intolerance of the Maotide, there was room for some religious freedom during the 1980s. As the Communist Party increasingly allowed people to take care of their private lives themselves, there was a need in society to find life meaning outside of Maoism. Many applied to various fields of Christianity and Buddhism.

The Buddhist movement Falun Gong managed to gather a large number of followers for a short time. The party leadership saw the well-organized large organization as a threat to the party’s power monopoly and banned Falun Gong in 1999. Falun Gong’s supporters have since been persecuted and imprisoned. The only Christian churches that are legal are those controlled by the Communist Party. However, there are a large number of Christians who are members of non-Christian communities, both Protestant and Catholic.

Some of the religious persecution also has an ethnic dimension. According to official statistics, about 10 percent of China’s population belongs to one of 55 ethnic minority groups. These are mainly concentrated in the western, more sparsely populated parts of China.

In both Tibet and Xinjiang, there is a long history of struggle for independence from China. The politically sensitive issue of independence means that the religious repression against Tibetans in Tibet and surrounding areas and the Turkish-speaking Muslim minority Uighurs in Xinjiang are particularly severe. In Tibet, there are recurring cases of monks setting fire to themselves in protest of the regime’s repression. The repression of Muslim Uighurs increased significantly after the terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, 2001, when China’s regime linked it to the global fight against Muslim fundamentalism.

Legislation on gender equality and sexual orientation made long progress. Feminist groups also grew and received a lot of attention. However, these issues have faced strong opposition from the authorities in recent years.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in 1997 and a large number of organizations working with LGBTQ issues have emerged. However, these issues are still sensitive and in recent years the official vision has hardened. In 2016, gay content in Chinese TV was banned.

The treatment of prisoners

The principle that everyone is considered innocent before the contrary is proven does not apply in the Chinese legal system. Rather, it is the responsibility of the accused to prove his innocence. Although torture is prohibited by law, it occurs in many places. In recent years, it has also become more common with publicly enforced recognitions shown on Chinese TV.

Foreign citizens have also had to endure this treatment. On January 4, 2016, Swedish human rights activist Peter Dahlin (born 1981) was arrested in Beijing. A few weeks later, he was forced into Chinese TV to confess his alleged crimes and declare that he hurt the feelings of the Chinese people. Dahlin was released on January 25, 2016 and then deported from China. He later retracted everything he had to say.

Another Swedish citizen, Gui Minhai (born 1964), has been forced into repeated public recognition in Chinese TV but is still detained in China. Gui Minhai, who ran a book publishing company in Hong Kong, disappeared from his holiday home in Thailand in October 2015.

On January 17, 2016, he was shown on Chinese TV where he confessed to a previous traffic violation for which he was now alleged to want to take his sentence. After being detained for two years, Gui Minhai was released on October 17, 2017. However, he was not allowed to leave the country. He was again arrested on January 19, 2018 when he was accompanied by two Swedish diplomats on a train on his way to Beijing to undergo a medical examination.

The Swedish government has condemned China’s actions, but China has rejected the criticism. The real reason for the Chinese government’s interest in Gui Minhai must be assumed to be that his book publishers published books on the Communist Party leaders who were both critical and contained rumors and gossip. The Chinese government has accused him of smuggling the books into China.

Capital punishment

China is the country in the world that executes the most people per year. The number of people executed is not official, but according to Amnesty International, it is about thousands of people per year.

The number of executed persons is estimated to have decreased since 2007, when it was decided that the Supreme Court must approve all death sentences.

China’s official attitude is that the use of capital punishment should be reduced. Despite this, 46 crimes are still subject to the death penalty. China has also been criticized for the widespread practice of taking organs from executed prisoners without securing their consent before execution.