An Overview of the Chinese Political System

China’s Political System

China's political system is mainly composed of 5 branches, namely the Chinese Communist Party 中国共产党 (CCP) , the government 政府, the National People's Congress 全国人民代表大会 (NPC), the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference 中国人民政治协商会议 (CPPCC), and the People’s Liberation Army 人民解放军 (PLA). Note, however, that the PLA does not play a significant role in the political arena. Hence, the Communist Party Committee, the government, the NPC and the CPPCC are collectively referred to as the “Big Four” to describe the main organs of China’s political system.

The leading bodies of the “Big Four” are the Central Committee of the CCP, the State Council, the Standing Committee of the NPC and the Standing Committee of CPPCC. The leading bodies of the "Big Four" will be renewed every five years.

1. The Central Committee of CCP (中国共产党 zhōng guó gòng chǎn dǎng)

The new CCP Central Committee is the first leading body to be elected at the CPC National Congress held every five years.

Within the new CCP Central Committee, they then elect the new Politburo, the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the Central Military Commission and the General Secretary, among other important government bodies and leaders.

The Politburo is the decision-making body of the Central Committee of the CCP, with the Standing Committee of the Politburo being the seven most powerful politicians in China. Together, their decisions affect every facet of life in China.

Within the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the key committees of the new State Council, NPC and CPPCC would also be elected.

Therefore, the Central Committee of CCP, particularly the Politburo and its Standing Committee, is considered China's highest decision-making body in the political system, and hence the head of the “Big Four”.

The renewal of the Central Committee of CCP usually takes place in October or November. The renewal for the key committee of the State Council, the Standing Committee of the NPC and the Standing Committee of CPPCC would be held in March of the following year, during the annual plenary sessions of the NPC and CPPCC (collectively known as  “Two Sessions 两会 liǎng huì”).

2. The State Council (国务院 guó wù yuàn)

The State Council is China's highest executive body, composing of the Premier, Vice Premier, State Councillors, Ministers, Directors of Committees, the Auditor General and the Secretary-General

The authority of the State Council includes: enacting administrative regulations, issuing decisions and orders; leading and managing the economy, education, science, culture, health, civil administration, public security, judicial administration, foreign affairs, etc.

3. The National People's Congress, NPC (全国人民代表大会 quán guó rén mín dài biǎo dà huì)

According to the Chinese Constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of state power in China.

Its powers include: amending the Constitution; enacting and amending criminal, civil, state institutions and other basic laws; electing and removing the President, and the Chairman of the Central Military Commission; deciding on and removing the Premier, Vice-Premiers, State Councillors and Ministers of the State Council; examining and approving the state budget; deciding on the establishment of special administrative regions and their institutions; deciding on issues of war and peace, etc;

The Standing Committee of the NPC is a permanent and leading organ of the NPC and exercises the legislative power of the State. The Standing Committee consists of the chairman, a number of vice-chairmen, the secretary-general and a number of members.

4. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, CPPCC (中国人民政治协商会议 zhōng guó rén mín zhèng zhì xié shāng huì yì)

CPPCC comprises members of the CCP, democratic parties, non-partisan individuals, and individuals from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan.

The main functions of the National Committee and local committees of the CPPCC are:
(1) Political consultation; (2) Democratic Supervision; (3) Participation in and deliberation of state affairs.

  1. Political consultation: Consultations are held on major national and local policies, the process of policy implementation, as well as on important issues in political, economic, cultural and social aspects. This occurs before decisions are made.
  2. Democratic supervision: Supervise the implementation of the Constitution, laws and regulations of the state, the implementation of major guidelines and policies, and the work of state organs and their members through suggestions and criticism.
  3. Participation in and deliberation of state affairs: Members of CPPCC select important issues the public are concerned about, conduct investigations and research, and then make recommendations to the party and government bodies.

The plenary session of the CPPCC National Committee is held once a year to deliberate on politics by discussing and submitting motions, and to put forward proposals and criticisms to state organs and other relevant organisations.

However,  as CPPCC is not a state organ and cannot exercise any governmental power.

Understanding the basis of China’s political system: Party State System and what it entails

Under the Party State System, CCP is the absolute power centre in Chinese politics. It assumes overall responsibility and coordinates all sides of the government, NPC, CPPCC, and the masses organisations.

Let us see how the Party State System is exercised.

Firstly, we could look at the key leaders and persons in China’s political system

  • The Premier, Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and the Chairman of CPPCC are all elected by, and within the CCP Central Committee
  • 70% of the NPC delegates are also CCP Party members

Some important powers of the State Council are also broken down into various systems that are not under the jurisdiction of the State Council, but CCP. For example,

  • Public security and judicial administration are under the administration of the Committee of Political and Legal Affairs of the CCP Central Committee
  • The press and public opinion are managed by the Publicity Department of the CCP Central Committee
  • Major economic policies are formulated by the Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs
  • Important foreign affairs decisions are made by the Office of the Foreign Affairs Leading Group of the CCP Central Committee.

In reality, the hierarchy of power in Chinese politics would look something like this instead:

This article is brought to you by Bluente, the world's first business language learning app.
To find out more, visit us at

Back to Blog