CONSTITUTION AND GOVERNMENT
On 21 Sept. 1949 the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference met in Beijing, convened by the Chinese Communist Party. The Conference adopted a ‘Common Programme’ of 60 articles and the ‘Organic Law of the Central People’s Government’ (31 articles). Both became the basis of the Constitution adopted on 20 Sept. 1954 by the 1st National People’s Congress, the supreme legislative body. The Consultative Conference continued to exist after 1954 as an advisory body. Three further constitutions have been promulgated under Communist rule—in 1975, 1978 and 1982 (currently in force). The latter was partially amended in 1988, 1993 and 1999, endorsing the principles of a socialist market economy and of private ownership.
The unicameral National People’s Congress is the highest organ of state power. Usually meeting for one session a year, it can amend the constitution and nominally elects and has power to remove from office the highest officers of state. There are a maximum of 3,000 members of the Congress (and currently 2,987), who are elected to serve five-year terms by municipal, regional and provincial people’s congresses. The Congress elects a Standing Committee (which supervises the State Council) and the President and Vice-President for a five-year term. When not in session, Congress business is carried on by the Standing Committee.
The State Council is the supreme executive organ and comprises the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Ministers and State Councillors.
The Central Military Commission is the highest state military organ.