Lecture # 7-Formal Political Institutions
Key Features of Political Institutions
Unitary state -22 provinces, 5 “autonomous regions”, 4 municipalities, 2 SARS (Western
interpretation of what China is)
o Difference between unitary and federal are: federation shares power between
provinces. Unitary state is where power is concentrated at the central level.
o On paper, China is a unitary state but there is decentralization
o Beijing, shanghai are all municipalities
o 2 SARSHong Kong and Macau
Administratively, the entire above mentioned are on the same level. Key institutions are the party. The
party and the government are distinct. The party penetrates the government, the legislative organ and
the entire system. The party wields tremendous influence over other institutions through personnel
promotions. Many government officials particularly the leading ones in all institutions are party
members. (Insert PowerPoint slide with the chart)
22 provinces 5 autor
Administrative levels: center, provinces, prefecture, county, township
No separation of power between the CCP, legislature, judiciary
o At the provincial level, they determine who appoints provincial level leaders, the
judiciary and the legislative. They are politically subordinate to the party members.
o The direction of arrows (source of power to the recipient of power)
Grid like, Criss-crossing lines of vertical authority and horizontal coordination
o Vertically, from the government side, you have state level on top, etc…but this is a
o At the same time, there is regional organization or rather horizontal (within the region).
o The committees are appointing the provincial level people. Regionally or horizontally,
these institutions are criss crossing each other (vertical and horizontal) Ernie Tam
o Power: It is hierarchical but definitely overlapping (top down and horizontal)
The line of accountability is a challenge for policy coordination and implementation.
Tiao-Kuai system (vertical) with the party tentacles penetrate into the other institutions.
The legislative branch is weak. The people’s congress (legislative branch) report to party
members. The laws are reflective of the “will of the party”.
The Judiciary branch is even weaker. Many judges and lawyers are party members, appointed by
party members and subjugated to party discipline. They lack autonomy from the party.
o For Example: In some cities, there are a lot of cases in power abuse. “The Blind Lawyer”
who is now in New York City…He used to live in a city in Ching dong. If he were to bring a
court case against the party or government, no court would be willing to accept his case
b/c the judges are appointed by local party members.
Government side of institutions are duplicated in various regional levels. For example: NPC at
central, county, and provincial level? (confirm with chart)
Zianganhai houses administrative, party and military people. Reflects the simple fact that
while the party and military are separate on paper, they are inseparable in reality. Party’s
overarching power over military and government that fuses all three together.
THE CCP CENTRAL PARTY ORGANS (1)
Founded on the Lenist movement: not disciplined, not well trained. Leadership over revolution.
One cannot simply join but apply to be a CCP member
Overtime, in the communist youth league, trained in party schools, evaluationsthen
membership is granted.
In theory, the party should arrive at decisions democratically. Party members are supposed to
make decisions (on paper) and once a decision is reached, it should be carried out by all
o At each level, party members elect delegates to local congresses.
At the central level the main party organs are:
The National Party Congress
o 2000 delegates. Meets once every 5 years.
o In theory this is the highest organ of authority. But its large size, 2000 people and lack of
meetings works like party conventions like United States. (clap hands, concert)
o Legitimates central political tasks for the party, rather than initiates and decides
o Passes resolutions, adopts procedures and disbands.
o It is a venue for the announcements for party vision and goals for the next few years.
o Loths for grand ideas and where the country isthoing in the next 5 years.
o 17 NPC (2007), and the next one is November 8 (2012)HU Jintao is handing power
to the next generation
The Central committee
o 300 members. Meets once or twice a year.
o In theory, the NPC elects the CC members. In reality, it endorses the candidates
determined by the Politburo.
Announces policies rather than decide them. It meets infrequent as well.
o Being a member for this is a necessary qualification for the most senior positions In the
party, the government and the military
o If you sit In the Central committee then you are very powerful. Ernie Tam
The Politburo (stands for Political Bureau)
o The command HQ of the CCP (24 members)
o 5-9 members are designated as the Politburo’s Standing committee.
o Extent of power is unknown. When the Central committee is not in session, then the
Politburo assumes all its power.
The Politburo Standing Committee
o The most powerful inner circle with 9 members who currently who meet weekly
(decision makers) [runs the country]
o Highest ranking member is the General Secretary who is currently Hu Jintao.
o Standing committeeExists permanently.
o Each member takes on important responsibilities-internal security, propaganda etc…
o Cultural Revolution, when the Red Guard went into chaos. Mao had to ask the military
Current Members of Politburo Standing Committee (Get slide for this)
1) Hu Jintao-President of the People
2) Wu Bangguo (premier and below Hu Jintao) But in terms of government, he is subordinate to
3) Wen Jiabao
4) Jia QInglin
5) LI Changchun
6) Xi Jinping
7Th man becomes premier (top member on government side), 6 person becomes military man. HU
Jintao wants to keep the military power when he retires as the General Secretary
The CCP Party Organs (2)
o Nerve of the party
o In practice, he/she can be extremely powerful because it supervised regional activities.
Central Military Commission
o In command of PLA.
o It is subordinate to the Poli Bureau and standing committee.
o Institutions duplicated in government level and membership overlaps
o Commander in chief: often regarded as the most powerful leader in China even if he
does not hold no senior position in party
In order to control politics in backseat, Deng and Jiang Zemin used this power
Military officers except for its civilian chairman who is normally head of party.
Officer consists entirely of party members. Both officers and troops are required
to study and declare loyalty to party principles.
o Yet the military’s internal party system is a distinct military system rather than a bunch
of civilian bureaucracies.
o In a way the party has its mind of its own. IT is a self bureaucracy with a thin layer of
control from civilians.
Discipline Inspection Commission rooting out corruption It is not effective in achieving this goal. Ernie Tam
Sprawling bureaucratic establishment. Extending into every medium concerning the
dissemination of informat