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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:

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China's Political System cover

Updates on China's Political System

We constantly update all chapters. You can browse all updates on China's Political System by key word or chapter of the book. 

2.11.1 Party control over the judicial and police systems

New criteria for selecting legislators, judges, and public prosecutors

The General Office of the Central Committee of the CCP issued a Notice, setting forth new rules for selecting legislators, judges, and public prosecutors out of lawyers and legal experts. The eligible candidates must show loyalty to the CCP and their spouse, sons or daughters may not be any emigrants.

Source EN, Source CN

2.11.2 The police

Policemen relating to the death of Lei Yang being arrested

Following the controversial death of Lei Yang in custody, public prosecutors started to investigate high-ranking police officers and arrested policemen involved in the incident after the autopsy was completed.

Source EN, Source CN

2.11.5 Attorneys

Political disciplines and recruiting government/public lawyers

The General Office of the Central Committee of the CCP and the General Office of the State Council issued joint opinions, stressing the need to tighten the political disciplines of lawyers while ensuring their economic and social interests. Both offices adjured government departments, state-owned enterprises and public institutions all over the country to recruit legal advisors, public and corporate in-house lawyers. Presumably, these lawyers are supposed to provide legal consulting services and ensure the rule by law.

Source CN

2.6 Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macau

Returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee accuses Chinese government of kidnapping him and others

After returning to Hong Kong, Lam held a press conference in which he detailed how he was kidnapped in Shenzhen and held in secret detention in Ningbo. He also alleged that fellow bookseller Lee Bo was kidnapped from Hong Kong, something which Lee, who appears to continue cooperating with Chinese authorities, denies. Ningbo police have demanded Lam’s return.

Source EN, Source CN

2.3.1 Party organization and party membership

CCP membership has changed

By the end of 2015, the number of CCP members had risen to 88.75 million, an increase of 1.1 percent over 2014, according to latest figures from the Organization Department of the CCP Central Committee. Despite the continued growth of the absolute number of members the CCP is getting elitist and old: since 2012 the proportion of party members with academic degree has overtaken the proportion of blue-collar workers and farmers; and the proportion of members who are over 60 years old exceeded a quarter of the total number of members, reaching even 26.5 percent in 2015. Another remarkable development is the steadily declining growth of new members in the last three years (see following figure). In 2015 the growth of new members fell by 4.5 percent. 

2.5.1 Regional administrative organization

National Development and Reform Commission publishes plan for development of Yangtze River Delta City Cluster

Issued on June 1, the plan outlines the development of the city cluster spanning Shanghai and parts of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Anhui until 2030. It encompasses 26 cities which are presently home to 11 percent of China’s population.

Source EN, Source CN

2.9 The cadre system and public administration

Discussion evolves around the costs for China’s public sector employment

Official figures provided by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security state the number of civil servants as 7.16 million by the end of 2015. Yet, civil servants make up only a small share of the overall employment in the public sector.

Source EN, Source CN

2.11.7 Judicial reform

The Administrative Chamber of the Supreme People’s Court carried out a review of the reforms of the administrative litigation system that started in May 2015

The SPC released statistics concerning the number of cases tried (220,259) since the reforms started in May 2015 and the ratio of increase in comparison to the previous year (59.23 percent). According to the SPC, the statistics show the successful effects of the reforms on the access to justice by ordinary citizens. The reforms may contribute to restriction of political power at local level.

Source CN

2.7 Local governments at the county, township, and village levels

New literature
  • Kipnis, Andrew B. (2016). From Village to City: Social Transformation in a Chinese County Seat. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Anna Ahlers, Thomas Heberer, and Gunter Schubert. “Whithering local governance in contemporary China? Reconfiguration for more effective policy implementation.” Journal of Chinese Governance. Published online 1 March, 2016.
  • Shou, Huisheng (2015) “Between the Formal and Informal: Institutions and Village Governance in Rural China,” China: An International Journal 13(2): 24-44. An article providing an account of recent trends towards an increase in the accountability of rural leaders and persisting challenges in rural governance.

2.8 Public finance

Value added tax reform completed

In May 2016 China expanded its value added tax regime to the construction, property, finance, and consumer service sectors. This was the final step of a reform aimed at strengthening the service sector by replacing business tax with value added tax.

Source EN, Source CN

Editor and principal author