Country Listing

China Table of Contents



Party and Government: A unitary and "socialist state of the dictatorship of the proletariat," based on Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, led by 46-million-member Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Political processes guided by party Constitution and state Constitution, both promulgated in 1982; constitutions stress principle of democratic centralism (see Glossary), under which representative organs of both party and state are elected by lower bodies and they in turn elect their administrative arms at corresponding levels. Within representative and executive bodies minority must abide by decisions of majority; lower bodies obey orders of higher level organs. In theory, National Party Congress highest organ of power of party, but real power lies in Political Bureau of CCP Central Committee and, still more, in select Standing Committee of Political Bureau. National People's Congress highest government organ of state power; approves CCP policies and programs. Reforms implemented in early 1980s allowed more serious review and deliberations concerning government programs in National People's Congress. State Council serves as equivalent of cabinet; key members also hold positions in important party organs.

Administrative Divisions: Divided into three tiers. In 1987 twenty-nine provincial-level units comprise twenty-one provinces, five autonomous regions, and three centrally governed special municipalities; middle tier consists of autonomous prefectures, counties, autonomous counties, cities, and municipal districts; and basic level comprises townships, and villages.

Justice:Four-level court system. Supreme People's Court in Beijing; higher people's courts in provinces, autonomous regions and special municipalities; intermediate people's courts at prefecture level and also in parts of provinces, autonomous regions, and special municipalities; basic people's courts in counties, towns, and municipal districts. Special courts handle matters affecting military, railroad transportation, water transportation, and forestry. Court system paralleled by hierarchy of prosecuting organs called people's procuratorates; at apex stands Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Foreign Affairs: As of late 1980s, China pursued independent foreign policy and sought friendly relations and trade with many countries despite political differences. China regards itself as developing country and member of Third World. China, however, has close cooperative relations, including economic, technological, political, and limited military cooperation, with United States, Japan, and other industrially developed nations. Earlier strains in Chinese relations with Soviet Union, long considered by Beijing as main threat of war, somewhat ameliorated by late 1980s but still fell short of full normalization.

Data as of July 1987