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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 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. 

2.4.1 The State Council and its inner cabinet

New composition of outer cabinet

According to the restructuring program approved by the NPC on March 17, the new outer cabinet of the State Council consists of 26 ministries (see following table). The seven new ministries emerge through integrating similar functions previously scattered among different ministries, while the three restructured ministries extend their power by taking over duties from other bodies. Furthermore, ten new agencies subordinate to the state council, ministries and commissions will be set up (see table). With such restructuring the new State Council seeks to eliminate overlapping responsibilities among government agencies and creating a more effective regulatory architecture, which focus on economic adjustment, market regulation, social management, public service and environmental protection.

Source EN, Source CN, Source CN

Changes of the State Council after the National People’s Congress 2018

A more powerful Ministry of Justice

Most media overlooked two fundamental changes for the Ministry of Justice. The first one is that the former Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council is abolished. The offices’ responsibilities in terms of drafting laws and administrative regulations, coordinating legislative work and law enforcement, supervising affairs of administrative review are transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The second change is that the newly formed Central Commission for comprehensively “govern the country by law” (中央全面依法治国委员会), which is responsible for policy design of law-based governing on top level, will set up its office in the Ministry of Justice. Such institutional arrangements turn the Ministry of Justice into a main executive organ of the above-mentioned commission (see update 2.3.4).

Source EN, Source CN, Source CN

A new ministry for the development of natural resources

The executive Vice-Premier Han Zheng officially inaugurated the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) (自然资源部) on April 10. This completely new ministry is designed to oversee the development of natural resources (including farmland, forests, wetlands, grasslands) as well as maritime resources in an environmentally friendly way, while establishing mechanisms to restore injured natural resources and protect the environment. MNR will also incorporate the spatial planning previously undertaken by the NDRC which explicitly defines the development model of local governments.

Source EN, Source CN, Source CN

New inner cabinet

After the re-election for a second five-year term by NPC, Premier Li Keqiang nominated four Vice-Premiers and five State Councilors to form the new inner cabinet with him. The NPC confirmed this nomination on March 19. The Vice-Premiers are Han Zheng (Executive Vice-Premier), Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He. The State Councilors are Wei Fenghe (Minister of Defense), Wang Yong, Wang Yi (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Xiao Jie (Secretary General of the State Council) and Zhao Kezhi (Minister of Public Security). Each of them will be will be given a new portfolio due to the upcoming restructuring of State Council.

Source EN, Source CN, Source CN

4.6 The role of government in the banking and financial systems

Banking and insurance regulators merge

The CBRC and the CIRC merged to become the CBIRC, the banking and insurance regulatory commission. The new regulator will be headed by Guo Shuqing, who is also the party secretary in the PBOC.

Source EN

Yi Gang was made governor of the PBOC

The previous governor of the PBOC, Zhou Xiaochuan stepped down after many years of service. He was replaced by his deputy Yi Gang.

Source EN

2.3.4 Central working organs and Leading Small Groups

Four Leading Small Groups renamed “Commissions” (委员会)

According to the decision taken by the CCP Central Committee in the second plenum ahead of the NPC, the former Leading Small Groups for Comprehensively Deepening of Reforms, for Cybersecurity and Informatization, for Finance and Economy and for Foreign Affairs are renamed “commissions.” Their shared responsibilities include overall policy design (so called “top-level design”), decision-making, coordination and supervision of the implementation. All these four commissions are chaired by Xi Jinping, while the other members of Politburo Standing Committee serve as his deputy.

Source CN, Source CN

Central Organization Department of CCP directly manages civil service

Due to the current restructuring main parts of personnel and organizational management falls under the responsibilities of the Central Organization Department, including the Office of Central Institutional Organization Commission, which is responsible for institutional planning, as well as State Administration for Civil Service, which is responsible for the examination, recruitment, evaluation and salary of public-sector employees. After merge, the State Administration for Civil Service – previously subordinated by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security will be abolished.

Source CN, Source CN

2.12 The military and politics

Coast Guard placed under the authority of the PAP

As part of the restructuring of state organizations announced during this year’s National People’s Congress, on March 21 Beijing announced that the Chinese Coast Guard will now be under the administration of the People’s Armed Police, which is, in turn, under the command of the Central Military Commission. Previously, the Coast Guard was controlled by the State Council’s State Oceanic Administration.

Source EN, Source CN

6.16 Internet security: National IT independence and China’s cyber policy

Leading Small Group for Cybersecurity and Informatization upgraded to Commission

As part of the restructuring of China’s state institutions announced during the National’s People’s Congress, four of the CCP’s leading small groups – including the one of cybersecurity and informatization – will be upgraded to commissions. This will further expand their power and will institutionalize their authority over state organs. The new commission is often called the Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission and is headed by Xi Jinping himself. The Cyberspace Administration of China reports to the commission.

Source EN, Source CN

Editor and principal author