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What to know about people's congresses in China's democracy

Source: Xinhua Updated: 2024-03-05

BEIJING -- China's system of people's congresses is in the spotlight again as the annual session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC), the country's national legislature, will open Tuesday.

The people's congress system is the fundamental political system in China. At the pinnacle of the system sits the NPC, which is the supreme organ of state power.

According to the Constitution, all administrative, supervisory, adjudicatory and procuratorial organs of the state shall be created by the people's congresses and shall be responsible to them and subject to their oversight.

An important principle of the people's congress system and a basic requirement of its institutional design is that the power of all state organs and their staff are subject to oversight and checks.

There are over 2.7 million deputies at the five levels of people's congresses, including nearly 3,000 deputies to the NPC.

The system is designed to include people from various backgrounds and cover a diverse cross-section of society.

Working in a part-time capacity, deputies at various levels are key channels for people's voices. They are both entitled and obliged to stand for the people's interests and express their requests.

NPC deputies are actively engaged in state affairs. At the annual full session, they review and vote on important legal documents and personnel changes, such as the election of the president and vice president of China every five years, in addition to submitting proposals.

When not in session, they interact with the people, take up training programs, and participate in inspections of law enforcement and research on important or urgent issues. Some of them are invited to observe bi-monthly legislative sessions of the NPC Standing Committee, a permanent body of the NPC.

When the NPC concludes its annual session, the NPC Standing Committee will exercise its power, holding sessions to deliberate and adopt laws, among other matters.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the NPC. Since Sept. 15, 1954, when about 1,200 deputies elected by universal suffrage gathered in Beijing to attend the first session of the first NPC, the people's congress system has provided an important institutional guarantee that has allowed the Communist Party of China to lead the people in creating miracles of rapid economic development and long-term social stability.