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Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Organization

The organizational principle that drives the Chinese political system is democratic centralism. Within the system, the democratic feature demands participation and expression of opinion on key policy issues from members at all levels of party organization. It depends on a constant process of consultation and investigation. At the same time, the centralist feature requires that subordinate organizational levels follow the dictates of superior levels. Once the debate has reached the highest level and decisions concerning policy have been made, all party members are obliged to support the Central Committee.

The National Party Congress is in theory the highest body of the CCP. It should be distinguished from the National People's Congress, China's highest legislative body. After its ascent to power in 1949, the party held no congress until 1956. This was the eighth congress since the party's founding in 1921. The Ninth National Party Congress convened in April 1969, the tenth in August 1973, the eleventh in August 1977, and the twelfth in September 1982.

Central Committee

Political power is formally vested in the much smaller CCP Central Committee and the other central organs answerable directly to this committee. The Central Committee is elected by the National Party Congress and is identified by the number of the National Party Congress that elected it. Central Committee meetings are known as plenums (or plenary sessions), and each plenum of a new Central Committee is numbered sequentially. Plenums are to be held at least annually. In addition, there are partial, informal, and enlarged meetings of Central Committee members where often key policies are formulated and then confirmed by a plenum. For example, the "Communique of the Third Plenum of the Eleventh Central Committee" (December 1978), which established the party's commitment to economic modernization, resulted from a month-long working meeting that preceded the Third Plenum.

The day-to-day work of the CCP was carried out by the Secretariat and its various departments--all placed under the direction of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. The Secretariat (suspended in 1966) was reestablished in February 1980 as the administrative center of the party apparatus, or, more aptly, as the party's inner cabinet. The Secretariat and its general secretary were elected by the CCP Central Committee.

The CCP's Central Military Commission is elected by the Central Committee and exercises authority over the military through the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). Since 1982 the party Central Military Commission has had a counterpart organization in the state Central Military Commission. In fact, the leadership of both bodies is identical. Nevertheless, because the party Central Military Commission reports directly to the powerful Central Committee, it is the authoritative body in matters of military policy.

Political Bureau - Politburo

The Political Bureau, its Standing Committee and the General Secretary are all elected by the plenary session of the Central Committee. When the plenum of the Central Committee is not in session, the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee exercise the functions and powers of the Central Committee. The Secretariat of the Central Committee is the administrative body of the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee. The general secretary of the Central Committee is responsible for calling sessions of both the Political Bureau and its Standing Committee, and is in charge of the work of the Secretariat of the Central Committee.

Lower Level Organizations

Below the central level, party committees and congresses were formed in the twenty-one provinces, five autonomous regions, and three special municipalities directly under the central government. Taiwan was listed as a province but, of course, was not under China's administration. The party also was represented in various county subdivisions (which included the prefectures) and within the PLA from regional headquarters down to regimental level. At the bottom of the party hierarchy were three kinds of basic organizations: general party branches, primary party committees, and party branches. These were set up in factories, shops, schools, offices, neighborhoods, PLA companies, and other places, depending on local circumstances and subject to approval by the appropriate party committees.

The Party's local organizations, according to administration, are at three levels: province, city and county. Until now, province-level Party committees have been established in 31 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities), city-level committees in province-administrated cities (prefectures), and county-level committees in counties (cities, districts).

The CPC had 4.20 million grassroots Party organs across the country at the end of 2012, an increase of 4.3 percent from a year earlier. These grassroots organs were set up in 7,245 urban subdisctricts, 33,000 towns, 87,000 urban communities and 588,000 villages. Party organs were established in nearly all government organs, state-owned and private enterprises, and social organizations.

Party committees at the provincial level are elected by the provincial-level congresses that convene every five years and have as additional functions the election of a discipline inspection commission, advisory commissions, and delegates to the National Party Congress. The county-level party congress convenes every three years and elects a committee, standing committee, and secretary.

The Party's grassroots organizations refer to those established within enterprises, rural areas, government offices, schools, scientific research institutions, residential communities, social groups, social intermediary agencies, PLA units and other lower-level establishments. The Party Constitution mandates the establishment of a Party committee in any organization that has more than three full members of the Party. By now 3.6 million grassroots Party organizations have been established nationwide.

Below the county and PLA regimental levels, the general branch committee meets twice a year and is elected for a two-year term. The party branch, or lowest level of party organization, meets four times a year and elects a branch committee for a two-year term. Every party member must be a member of a branch committee. Party branch committees and their members at the grass-roots level are the backbone of the party organization. This is also the level where admission and expulsion of party members takes place. Branch members exchange views on issues, become thoroughly informed concerning party goals and policies, and learn to accept party discipline.

In order to enhance Party building, the CPC has also set up discipline inspection institutions, which consist of discipline committees at various levels and their agencies. The mission of these discipline committees is to defend the Party Constitution and other internal regulations; ensure the implementation of Party lines, policies and decisions; and help Party committees in Party-building and anti-corruption efforts.

CPC 2013

CPC 2013



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