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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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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. 

2.3.2 Party congresses and ballots

Three new full members in 18th CCP Central Committee

At the 5th Plenary Session in October 2015, three alternate members replaced the former full members who were expelled from the Party for discipline violations. As a result the 18th CCP Central Committee now consists of 205 full members and 161 alternate members (i.e. non-voting “candidates”).

2.3.6 Organizational decline and reform efforts

Tightening party discipline

In October 2015, the Party Politburo passed the revised “Regulation on the violation of party discipline”. The fundamental difference to the previous version is a clearer separation of party punishment and legal enforcement, as a result of eliminating the articles which duplicated criminal law. Wang Qishan emphasized that party discipline should be stricter than law.

2.6 Special Administrative Regions: Hong Kong and Macau

Student protests for academic freedom

A decision by the Council of the University of Hong Kong not to appoint a pro-democracy candidate as deputy head sparked a wave of student protests and public debates on political freedom in Hong Kong academia.

Senior politicians from both camps have called for a continuation of reform talks on Hong Kong’s electoral system.

Source EN, Source EN, Source EN 

LegCo defeat for the election reform proposal

A reform proposal which stipulated the election of the chief executive from candidates selected by Beijing was put to the vote in the Legislative Council. The pro-Beijing camp’s strategy to delay LegCo voting through absence collectively ends in a landslide defeat for the reform proposal. The outcome is considered a defeat to all parties, while the people of Hong Kong are actually left with less say in the selection of the Chief Executive than if the proposal had been passed.

Source EN

1.5 Analytical approaches to Chinese politics

New literature
  • "Cultural Logic of Politics in Mainland China and Taiwan" by Shi Tianjian (2014) theorizes convincingly how cultural orientations impact on political processes in a society. Through an elaborate statistical analysis of survey data collected between 1993 and 2008, it provides empirical evidence for the independent effect of cultural norms and challenges existing assumptions about the resilience of the authoritarian regime in China.
  • "China's Ideological Spectrum", a MIT Research Paper by Pan, Jennifer and Xu Yiqing (2015) offers the first large-scale quantitative analysis of ideology in contemporary China.

2.4.1 The State Council and its inner cabinet

Reorganization of SASAC

In September 2015, the CCP Central Committee and the State Council published a joint document on the deepening of SOE reform. According to the document, SASAC will give up its role as a shareholder in SOEs and pass these competences to newly established state-owned investment companies.

1.2 How China is portrayed in Western media

Prominent U.S. journalist allowed to return to China

Ahead of President and CCP leader Xi Jinping’s state visit to the U.S., Chinese authorities allowed prominent China correspondent Chris Buckley (New York Times) to return to Beijing. Previously, in December 2012, Beijing had declined to renew Buckley’s visa, forcing him and his family to leave the country. Despite this symbolic gesture, the relationship between state authorities and foreign media remains tense.

Source EN

2.8 Public finance

Local government debt reaches 38 percent of GDP

According to official data released in August 2015, local government debt (including guaranteed debt) amounted to RMB 24 trillion – 38 percent of the country’s GDP – at the end of 2014.

Slide in revenues from the sale of land use rights

According to official data released in August 2015, China’s fiscal position continued to deteriorate due to the slowdown in economic growth. Local governments were hit particularly hard due to falling revenues from the sale of land use rights (-38.2 percent in the first seven months of 2015).

2.11.6 Criminal law and the penal system

Criminal offences punishable by death reduced

A total of nine non-violent criminal offences were removed from the list of crimes punishable by death in a bill passed by the National People's Congress in August 2015 (full text: CN). It was the second bill of this kind since 2011, when 13 offences were removed from the list.

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