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Political Institutions of the People’s Republic of China

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  1. Political Institutions of the People’s Republic of China SOSC 152

  2. Military Legislature Executive CCP Judicial

  3. Key Characteristics of Political System • Political system dominated by the CCP • Highly bureaucratized—”the permanent bureaucratic society.” • Power based partly on “power of posts” • Highly centralized system, with top leaders wielding enormous power; “Mao in command” model.

  4. Unstable Institutions and Importance of Personal Power • But (1) power also based on personal relations—”guanxi”—who is your political network? • Deng Xiaoping mobilized whole country to speed up reforms in 1992 when his only formal post was President of Chinese Bridge Association.

  5. Deep State Penetration into Society • 2. CCP penetrated down to village level through party committees (1,000 people). • In Qing Dynasty, county government was lowest level of state power (200,000 people). • In cities, CCP has penetrated down to neighborhood committees


  6. Horizontal Control by CCP Committees at all Levels of Hierarchy • 3. Every level of government or administrative hierarchy has party committee which can monitor the government at that level. • Party committees tend to dominate local decisions—can intervene in economic decisions.

  7. The Structure of Political System • administrative hierarchy of government, legislatures, courts and the CCP. • Running from Central government in Beijing, to provinces, municipalities (district), county, township, administrative village, natural villages. • But today, Communist Party dominates all aspects except the economy.

  8. National Party Congress President & Vice President Prime Minister Central Committee State Councilors CPPCC Vice Premier Politburo Standing Committee of the Politburo Central Discipline Inspection Commission Secretariat State Council Supreme People’s Court Supreme People’s Procurator National People’s Congress Military Affairs Commission Organization Dept Rural Work Dept Propaganda Dept NPC Standing Committee Ministries and Commissions Provincial-level Government Provincial-level People’s Congresses Provincial-level Bureaus Provincial-level Party Committees Intermediate & Lower Court & Procurators Municipal Party Committees Prefecture Governments Prefecture Bureaus County-level People’s Congresses County-level Party Committees County-level Governments County-level Bureaus Township People’s Congresses Township Party Committees Township Governments Representative Village Committee Village Party Committees Village Committee Legislative Judicial Party Executive

  9. Party National Party Congress Central Committee Politburo Standing Committee of the Politburo Central Discipline Inspection Commission Secretariat Military Affairs Commission Organization Dept Rural Work Dept Propaganda Dept Provincial-level Party Committees Municipal Party Committees Country-level Party Committees Township Party Committees Village Party Committees

  10. Standing Committee of Politburo (SC-PB) Most powerful people in China! • Controls all aspects of political system • Currently 9 members—has been as few as 5 • most members control one of key SIX “systems” • party affairs—relations with other CCPs and party life. • organizational affairs—allocates all party positions • propaganda and education-education, news, colleges • political and legal affairs—responsible for courts, police, “strike hard campaign” • finance and economics—led by Prime Minister • Military—CCP tries to maintain civilian control of army

  11. You’re Nobody if you’re not on the Central Committee!! • All key power brokers either full or alternate members of CC-CCP. • Meets in Plenary Session about twice a year to approve important policy decisions, can totally redirect previous policy and take China in new direction: - Reform era began in with 3rd Plenum of Eleventh CC in December 1978, Deng overturned strategy outlined by Hua Guofeng in July 1977 at 11th PC.

  12. Party Secretariat and Its Key Departments • Organizational Dept.— responsible for all party posts, key government posts, and is a key position to affect succession. • Propaganda Dept.—monitors press, tv, organizes ideological study campaigns. • Rural Work Dept.—makes rural policy. • People’s Daily— top CCP newspaper and editorial board making public policy

  13. Executive Organizations(the government) President & Vice President Prime Minister Vice Premier State Councilors State Council Ministries and Commissions Provincial-level Bureaus Provincial-level Bureaus Prefecture Governments Prefecture Bureaus Country-level Governments Country-level Bureaus Township Governments Village Committee

  14. State Council • High degree of overlappingdirectorship —Prime Minister often 3rd ranking member of SC-PB. • Some Vice Premiers are members of PB-SC or Politburo. • Prime Minister needs support of General Secretary of CCP to push policies.

  15. National People’s Congress CPPCC NPC Standing Committee Provincial-level People’s Congresses Country-level People’s Congresses Township People’s Congresses Representative Village Committee Legislative Legislature (makes the laws)

  16. China’s Parliament:National People’s Congress • Meets every 5 years to elect government leaders--President, PM, Vice Premiers, all approved before by PB-SC. • Also, meets yearly to address key issues related to legal affairs, financial affairs, etc. • Mostly rubber stamp, as laws or key decisions originate with CCP, approved by CCP’s committees. • During NPC, top leaders visit provincial delegations, discuss regional problems. • Centre for popular input into laws and economy through its committees; professionals may work with committees. • Major event in 1987 when only 2/3 of NPC members supported Three Gorges Dam, 1/3 abstained.

  17. Military Affairs Commission Mao: “Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun” • Directly under Standing Committee of Politburo. • General Secretary of CCP usually Chair of MAC • Vice-Chair may be civilian, other posts belong to military. • Jiang Zemin held this post 1 year after giving up head of CCP, hoping it would provide leverage over Hu Jintao.

  18. How does the CCP Control the Military? Mao: “The Party must always control the gun, the gun must never control the Party.” • Military Affairs Committee (MAC) • budgetary allocations from State Council and Ministry of Finance • Political Commissars--every military unit has CCP official who maintains party authority. • Overlapping membership in CC-CCP and Politburo, but no member of PB-SC for many years.

  19. Power of PLA Ebbs and Flows • Military has power to speak out on Taiwan issues and perhaps Sino-US relations. • Chaos of Cultural Revolution forced Mao to call in army in 1968, army had influence for many years. • Military failure in war with Vietnam in 1979budget cuts until 1989, when it saved CCP by attacking students in Tiananmen Square on Deng’s commands. • 12-14% annual increase in spending; official defense budget--US$30 billion, foreign estimates--US$90 billion.

  20. Map of China

  21. County Urban Distinct Township Residence Committee Administrative Village Natural Village Center Province and Provincial Level Cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Tianjin) Municipality Rural Urban

  22. Party Penetrates the Government • Every government office, university department, or enterprise, has a party branch and party secretary. • Province, has governor and party secretary -- latter has greater authority. • In state-owned factory, party secretary wields greater power than manager. • Politics permitting, the Party Secretary will try to intervene in economic decisions.

  23. Territorial Party Committees • Party Committee at each level of administrative hierarchy dominates. • Often interferes in government decisions. • Members responsible for education, industry, agriculture, population control, propaganda, and selection of key government officials at next level down through Organizational Department.

  24. Central Committee Chinese Academy of Science • LIST: • President • Vice President • Members of Party Core Group • Head of Discipline Inspection Group Ministry of Education • LIST: • Minister • Party Secretary • Members of Party Core Group Beijing University • LIST: • Party Secretary • President of University Nomenklatura System and the Power of Appointment Secretariat Organizational Department Lists of Post: • Key to party control over personnel appointments and source of its power over government

  25. Guangzhou Municipal Government Guangzhou Party Organization Department Guangzhou Municipal Energy Department Zhongshan County Government Zhongshan County CCP Committee County Level CCP County Organization Department Zhongshan County Energy Department OverlappingHierarchy

  26. No Independent Judiciary • Personal power dominates China--”rule of man” over the “rule of law.” • Officials like it this way, enhances their authority. • all lower levels judges appointed and paid by county party committee. • Outsiders rarely win in another city—Chongqing firm won’t sue Shanghai for IPR infringement because it cannot win in Shanghai.

  27. Politics of the Courts • Older judges ex-officers with no judicial training. • Crimes deemed sensitive or impacting social order can be judged purely on political terms. • Forced confessions acceptable, defendants have great difficulty proving police made false arrest. • New generation of judges, some with foreign education • Case of young judge ruling for Central government against local People’s Congress led to political attack on her (NYT).

  28. Comparing Political Institutions in Socialist Countries SOSC 152

  29. A. Introductory Comments: 1. Unstable political institutions • despite totalitarian image, major shifts in power among major political institutions. • despite rules outlining when organizations will meet, rules often broken, party congresses often did not meet • low level of political institutionalization Why?

  30. 1. Unstable political institutions • a. Charismatic leadership, where individual power often more important than formal political position. • b. constant political competition without institutionalized succession procedures leads individuals to try to control organizations which they use to advance their own power.

  31. 1. Unstable political institutions • c. Result is "Shifting Locus of Authority" • shifts among State Council, Politburo, Party Secretariat, Military Affairs Commission • Mao's big push for collectivization not made in Politburo or Central Committee • Deng's recreation Secretariat in 1981 to undermine Hua Guofeng's posts of Party Chairman and prime minister. • d. very limited role for Constitution which is often revised • Constitution seen more as benchmark for shifts in historical periods than as unchanging document which has legitimacy or which divides power or authority among institutions.

  32. 2. Efforts to ensure party control over army • occurs through budgetary control, dual penetration, overlapping authority 3. Overlapping rulership and overlapping authority • people wear several hats, military, party, government • same decision often open to influence by competing organizations and individuals

  33. 4. Unclear and weak property rights • allows for competing claims to industry and goods • allows political power, rather than clear contractural agreements, to determine control over resources. 5. Heavy bureaucracy due to planned economy • central planning created large economic bureaucracy • party efforts to control the economy created parallel structure • heritage of central

  34. B. Three Main Organizations: Party, Government, and Military Party: 1. Organizational Principles • a. Hierarchical top down system, • local organizations as policy implementors • lower levels report to upper levels, • elections from bottom up usually predetemined by next higher level • b. Democratic Centralism • lower levels obey upper levels, minority must obey majority, • debate possible until decision made, then everyone must obey.

  35. 1. Organizational Principles • c. Dual Hierarchy of Party committess for all government and military organizations • primary party organization wherever 3 members in an organization • party group in all organizations to insure following party policy • d. Nomenklatura: key control structure • "list of names" or positions • Organizational Bureau responsible for all key positions in government and party

  36. 2. Party Congresses • party congresses occur at all levels of the system • rally of the faithful to elect party committees which are full-time representatives between Party Congresses • a. National Party Congress, elects Central Committee, which elects Politburo and Standing Committee of Politburo (most important organization) • each member of Standing Committee or Politburo sits atop one of 5 "KOU" • industry, agriculture, public security and law, foreign affairs, culture and education.

  37. 2. Party Congresses • b. Party Secretariat • core center of party bureaucracy, parallel structure for all functional arenas or KOU • power shifts over time, strong under Deng in 1950s, closed during Cultural Revolution • Stalin used it to control party local elections which allowed him to control membership in Central Committee, which allowed him to carry out purges • Central Committee meets in Party Plenum to map out major policies between congresses • c. Military Affairs Commission • Party committee to control the army • top military leaders also members, so reverse penetration can occur • leads General Political Department, responsible for party and ideology in military