Is Two Term President Jiang
Zemin A Lame Peking Duck?
constitution of China limits the President to two consecutive
five year terms. Next year Jiang Zemin will step down
at the end of his second term in office. For years, it
was assumed that his Vice President, Hu Jintao, who holds
a largely powerless office (not unlike that of the USA
Vice Presidency) would take his place and continue his
policies. But while Hu's name is once again being circulated
by official Chinese media, it is not altogether certain
that he will indeed be the next President of China. STAY
A Watched Pot Never Boils
At left, Chairman Mao visits a factory in an undated photo
and Government in China
China is governed under a constitution that is a living
document, subject to frequent revision as China's leaders
continue to redefine China in a process that began over
a century ago and picked up speed after the last Qing
Emperor abdicated in 1911 and the Qing Dynasty collapsed.
The most recent constitution was formally adopted December
4, 1982. It was amended again in 1988. China's political
structure is often referred to as an authoritative one-party
state by Western governments and, in particular, popular
media. The reality is much more complex.
Day to day administration of the national government is carried
out by the State Council and the Standing Committee of
the National People's Congress (NPC). The members of the State
Council are elected by the NPC. The State Council is headed
by a Prime Minister (often referred to as Premier) who serves
a five year term. The functions of the State Council are in
the hands of a Cabinet of approximately 15 members, including
the Prime Minister, deputy or Vice Premiers, and other members.
Each Vice Premier has a specific area of responsibility such
as Banking or Economy. Adjacent to the State Council is the
Standing Committee of the National People's Congress,
which is a permanent body and carries out the functions of China's
legislature when it is not in session. The chief leaders of
the Standing Committee, usually referred to as the "Politburo,"
can be viewed as China's main political figures. Below the State
Council and Standing Committee are the ministries which often
have very exact areas of responsibility.
|The highest political body in China is
the National People's Congress. The NPC passes
the laws, treaties, budget, approves plans, nominates
govenment executives, and approves the constitution.
| There are approximately 3,000 members or
deputies representing every region of China. At least
20% of deputies are women. In fact, China has one of the
highest ratios of women legislators of any country in
the world. Each congress is elected for a term of five
years. The NPC meets once every year, usually in March
for two weeks to a month. Apart from the annual sessions,
the work of the NPC is carried out by the Standing Committee
. The most recent congress, the Ninth, had its first session
in March 1998. At the beginning of the Ninth Congress,
Li Peng was elected Chairman of the NPC. The congress
also elected Jiang Zemin as President (Head of
State) of the PRC and Hu Jintao as Vice-President