MERICS China's Political System header


The Chinese government is one of the most important actors in international affairs today. China’s global economic and diplomatic presence is challenging the earlier dominance by the Western powers. To thoroughly understand how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has grown in power requires a careful analysis of its political system. What contribution has the political system and government activity made in respect to China’s economic transformation? What consequences will the economic modernisation and world-economic integration have on the political system? Is the political system able to adapt to changing economic, technological, and international conditions? Which potentials and risks will shape the mid-term development of the political system?

The book offers a differentiated understanding of the conditions, potentials and risks of the political development in China. It is based on a comprehensive of analysis of Chinese resources and gives readers the most current overview of international China research.

"China's political system" published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers is available on Amazon.

The German version of the book is available in bookshops or online at:

AmazonThaliaBücher.deWeltbild, Springer

China's Political System cover

Updates on China's Political System

We have updated all chapters until May 2018. You can browse all updates on China's Political System by key word or chapter of the book. 

5.6 The media and public opinion

Voice of China begins operation

As part of the State Council reshuffle announced at the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2018, China has merged its state television and radio networks into one mega broadcaster. The new China Media Group (中央广播电视总台) was officially inaugurated on April 19 and is made up of China Central Television (CCTV), China National Radio (CNR) and China Radio International (CRI). The new broadcaster is also known as the “Voice of China” in English. The organization has the rank of a ministry. Although formally placed under the State Council, the new group is under the direct leadership of the Central Propaganda Department of the CCP.

Source EN, Source CN

2.3.4 Central working organs and Leading Small Groups

Central Propaganda Department directly governs conventional media again

The media-related ideological sector is now regulated by three new bodies: 1) The State Administration of Press and Publication, which also doubles as the National Copyright Administration; 2) The State Administration of Film and 3) The State Administration of Radio and Television. They all fall under the direct control of the Central Propaganda Department. The first two bodies are now subordinated to the Propaganda Department, while the latter remains with the State Council. They replaced the former State Administration of Press, Publication, Film, Radio and Television attached to the State Council. By this adjustment, the Propaganda Department directly governs and oversees the conventional media again since 1986.

Source EN, Source EN, Source CN

Merger of Central Party School and Chinese China Academy of Governance

The two Beijing based bodies for training leading party cadres and high-level civil servants were merged into a single organization called the Central Party School (Chinese Academy of Governance) due to their similar duties and target groups. Such a merger should allow better coordination of their training programs. High-ranking government officials in China are also managed and promoted according to the nomenklatura system which defines the functions and job title of leading party cadres. At subnational levels these two institutions are united for a long time.

Source EN, Source CN

6.9 Industrial policy and investment catalogs in the automotive sector

NDRC announces to further open China’s automobile sector

On April 17, the NDRC announced that it will eliminate share-holding limits for foreign investors in a handful of manufacturing sectors including automobile. Beijing wants to phase out restrictions in China’s domestic automobile market over the next 5 years until 2022. According to a released timetable, foreign ownership caps for companies making special-purpose vehicles and fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will be removed already in 2018 and for producers of commercial vehicles by 2020. Restrictions on foreign ownership in the wider passenger vehicle market will be lifted by 2022.

Source EN, Source CN

6.11 Environmental policy: Curtailing urban air pollution

New Ministry of Ecological Environment (生态环境部) established

The Ministry of Environmental Protection will be transformed. The duties of combatting climate change and managing greenhouse gasses will shift from the NDRC to the new ministry. The new ministry will further absorb environmental duties formerly held by the land, water and agriculture ministries.

Source CN

2.4.1 The State Council and its inner cabinet

A new regulatory structure of financial markets

China Banking and insurance regulatory Committee (CBIRC) (中国银行保险监督管理委员会), which merged from the former CBRC and CIRC, started running on April 8. CBIRC is chaired by Guo Shuqing, who is appointed as Party Secretary of PBOC at the same time. This unique personal overlap signals that the protection against systematic risk of the financial sector also accounts as the highest priority for the PBoC. In addition, some former responsibilities of CBRC and CIRC regarding drafts of key regulations and prudential supervision are shifted to the PBoC, while the CBIRC is tasked with oversighting both the banking and insurance industries and ensuring their development.

Source EN, Source CN

A new market regulator

The State Market Regulatory Administration (SMRA) (国家市场监督管理总局) officially runs since April 10. It reports directly to the State Councilor Wang Yong who also participated in the inauguration ceremony. The key responsibilities of SMRA include comprehensive market supervision, market entity registration, market order maintenance and quality and safety of products. Furthermore, it assimilates anti-monopoly, anti-unfair competition and price supervision functions which were previously held by NDRC, MOFCOM, SAIC and the Bureau of Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council. Finally, SMRA governs the restructured State Intellectual Property Office.

Source EN, Source CN

A new agency to provide service for foreigners living in China

The State Immigration Administration (SIA) (国家移民管理局) formally started operating on April 2. This new body is working under the Ministry of Public Security. According to the restructuring plan of the State Council, the SIA should not only reduce the bureaucracy of immigration but also coordinate the heading of illegal immigration. Guo Shengkun, the chairman of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, and Zhao Kezhi, the State Councilor and Minster of Public Security, took part in the inauguration ceremony.

Source EN, Source CN

A newly expanded National Audit Office

The restructured National Audit Office takes over the duties such as financial inspection of state investment projects previously carried out by the NDRC, examination of execution of central government’s annual budget and other financial expenditure previously undertaken by the Ministry of Finance, as well as financial control of leading cadres of state-owned enterprises previously executed by the SASAC. Through these changes, the National Audit Office becomes the sole auditor independent from all other government authorities. In the past years, the National Audit Office played a powerful but silent role in anti-corruption crackdown (see update 2.3.4).

Source EN, Source CN

2.9 The cadre system and public administration

Selection, promotion and training of civil servants brought more close to the Party´s core

In the course of implementing the Plan on Deepening Reform of Party and State Institutions, three major state institutions overlooking China´s public administration system were affected.

First, the State Administration of Civil Service (国家公务员局) was abolished, and its functions transferred to the Organization Department of the Central Committee. The transferred functions include the selection of civil servants and confirming the decisions over promotions.

Second, the State Council Office for Public Sector Reform – overlooking structural reforms and modernization of the state administration – has also been put under closer supervision of the Organization Department.

Third, the Chinese Academy of Governance (CAG, 国家行政学院), the country’s leading center for training high-ranking officials is no longer an independent organization under the State Council. CAG was merged with the Central Party School.

Chen Xi, a close confident of Xi Jinping, is heading both organizations that gained new competences due to this reshuffle: he is the head of the Organization Department and president of the Central Party School.

Source EN, Source CN

Editor and principal author