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China, Government

Jiang Zemin, highest organ, socialist states, Chinese Communist Party, NPC

The structure of China’s government follows a Leninist model of one-party rule. Under the Leninist system, the mandate to govern originates not in elections but in the ruling party’s armed seizure of power. The claim to legitimacy rests on the ruling party’s assertion that it serves the interests of the people. Russian revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin first established this system in the USSR, and it was later adopted by or imposed on many other socialist states. In China, the ruling party is the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which came to power in 1949 and established the People’s Republic of China.

The CCP dominates policy making and policy execution through its members in the government. Within the state (governmental) structure, the highest organ in theory is the legislature, called the National People’s Congress (NPC). In practice, however, the most powerful state organ is the cabinet, called the State Council, which is headed by the premier.

Under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping, China launched a period of economic reform in 1978, and Deng’s successor, Jiang Zemin, continued the reforms. In the shift from a government-controlled planned economy to a so-called socialist market economy, specialized government agencies have been strengthened or newly established and have been given more operational independence. The National People’s Congress has adopted hundreds of laws aimed at providing a more predictable environment for economic activity, and in the course of this work it has expanded its professional staff and its own authority. State-owned enterprises have gained considerable autonomy and some have been privatized, while a new sector of private and collective enterprises has developed largely independent of direct state control. Local governments have gained greater authority to adapt national policy to local circumstances. They also have increased their shares of tax revenues at the expense of taxes remitted to the central government. In the midst of these changes, the CCP largely has withdrawn from managing the day-to-day details of government affairs, but it has continued to set major policy. Furthermore, through its members in the government, the CCP has restricted political activities that promote views contrary to the party’s objectives, in effect allowing no significant opposition to emerge.

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