President of the People's Republic of China

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This article is about the Head of State of the People's Republic of China under 1982 Constitution. For the de facto leader of China, see paramount leader.
President of the
People's Republic of China
中华人民共和国主席
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China.svg
Xi Jinping Mexico2013.jpg
Incumbent
Xi Jinping

since March 14, 2013
Residence Zhongnanhai (informal)
Nominator the Presidium of the National People's Congress
Appointer the National People's Congress
Term length Five Years, renewable
once consecutively
Inaugural holder Mao Zedong (1954)
Li Xiannian (after restoration in 1983)
Formation September 1954-January 1975
December, 1982
Website Presidency
President of the People's Republic of China
Traditional Chinese 中華人民共和國主席
Simplified Chinese 中华人民共和国主席
Literal meaning Chinese People Republic Chairperson
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 國家主席
Simplified Chinese 国家主席
Literal meaning State Chairperson

The President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the head of state of China. The presidency is a largely ceremonial office with limited powers, though the President typically holds additional offices simultaneously and is the paramount leader of the country.[a] The office is classified as an institution of the state rather than an administrative post.[2]

The office was first established in the PRC Constitution of 1954 and successively held by Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi. Liu fell into political disgrace during the Cultural Revolution and the office was abolished. The office was officially scrapped under the Constitution of 1975, then reinstated in the Constitution of 1982, but with reduced powers. The official English-language translation of the title was "Chairman"; after 1982, this translation was changed to "President".

Officially, the President is elected by the National People's Congress and can serve up to two terms of five years each. The current President is Xi Jinping, who also holds the positions of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him, informally, China's paramount leader.

Qualifications and election[edit]

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This article is part of a series on the
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According to the current Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the President must be a Chinese citizen with full electoral rights who has reached the age of 45. The President's term of office is the same as the term of the National People's Congress (currently five years), and the president and vice-president are both limited to two consecutive terms.[3]

The President is elected by the National People's Congress (NPC), China's highest state body, which also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.[4]

According to the Organic Law of the NPC, the President is nominated by the NPC Presidium, the Congress's executive organ.[5] In practice, however, the ruling Communist Party of China reserves the post of President for its current General Secretary. Like all officers of state elected by the NPC, the President is elected from a one name ballot.

In the event that the office of President falls vacant, the Vice-President succeeds to the office. In the event that both offices fall vacant, the Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee temporarily acts as President until the NPC can elect a new President and Vice-President.[6] President of China is responsible for everyone in the country.

Powers and duties[edit]

Under the current PRC constitution, the President's most important political power is to nominate the Premier of the People's Republic of China.[7] The NPC votes on the nomination, but since only one name is on the ballot, it can only approve or reject. To date, it has never rejected a personnel nomination.[8] Since the Premier, the head of government in China, is the most important political appointment in the Chinese government, the nomination power, under some circumstances, may give the President real political influence.[9]

Figurehead[edit]

Main article: figurehead

Once the NPC has approved the Premier, the President then issues his official appointment. As head of government, the Premier has the power to appoint the entire State Council of the People's Republic of China, subject to NPC approval. The President then issues the appointments for the Vice-Premiers, State Council members and Ministers for all departments.

In addition to nominating the Premier, the President also has the power to promulgate statutes, confer state medals and titles, issue pardons, proclaim war, and issue mobilization orders. However, since the President exercises these powers in accordance with the decisions of the NPC or its Standing Committee, and is not empowered to reject any of these measures, these are formal powers only.[10]

The President has similar duties in foreign affairs, including appointment and recall of representatives abroad, and ratification and abrogation of treaties and agreements concluded with foreign states. The President exercises these powers in accordance with the decisions of the Standing Committee of the NPC, so that these are also formal powers only.[11]

Political ranking[edit]

For President Liu Shaoqi, he was also the first Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China, ranked second in the Communist Party of China, behind Chairman Mao Zedong. For President Li Xiannian, he was also the 5th ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee, after CPC General Secretary and Premier. For President Yang Shangkun, he was not a member of Politburo Standing Committee, but he ranked third after General Secretary Zhao Ziyang and Deng Xiaoping. Since Jiang Zemin, the President is also the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, ranking first in Party and State.

History[edit]

The office of State Chairman (the original English translation, as noted above) was first established under China's 1954 Constitution. The ceremonial powers of the office were largely identical to those in the current Constitution.[12]

The powers of the 1954 office differed from those of the current office in two areas: military and governmental. The State Chairman's military powers were defined in the 1954 Constitution as follows: "The Chairman of the People's Republic of China commands the armed forces of the state, and is Chairman of the National Defence Council (Chinese: 国防委员会)."[13] The Council of National Defence was unique to the 1954 Constitution. It was abolished under the 1975 Constitution.

The State Chairman's governmental powers were defined in the 1954 Constitution as follows: "The Chairman of the People's Republic of China, whenever necessary, convenes a Supreme State Conference (Chinese: 最高国务会议) and acts as its chairman." The members of the Supreme State Conference included the main officers of state, and its views were to be presented to the main organs of state and government, including the National People's Congress and the State Council. Council of National Defence.[14] The Supreme State Conference was also unique to the 1954 Constitution. It was abolished under the 1975 Constitution and later Constitutions have not included a similar body.

As Chairman of the Communist Party of China, Mao Zedong was elected State Chairman at the founding session of the National People's Congress. At the 2nd NPC in 1959, Mao was succeeded by Liu Shaoqi, first Vice Chairman of the Communist Party, in the position. Liu was reelected as State Chairman at the 3rd NPC in Jan 1965. However, in 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution and by August 1966 Mao and his supporters succeeding in removing Liu from his position as party Vice Chairman. A few months later Liu was apparently placed under house arrest, and after a prolonged power struggle, on October 31, 1968, the 12th Plenum of the 8th Communist Party Congress stripped Liu Shaoqi of all his party and non-party position, including that of State Chairman. This was in violation of the Constitution, which required a vote by the NPC to remove the State Chairman. In fact, during the Cultural Revolution the NPC itself ceased to operate; the last meeting of its Standing Committee was on July 7, 1966, when it voted to postpone its next session.[15] The NPC and its Standing Committee did not meet again until 1975, and during that period the office of State Chairman was vacant.

When the 4th NPC was convened in 1975, its main act was to adopt a new Constitution which eliminated the office of State Chairman and emphasized instead the leadership of the Communist Party over the state, including an article that made the Party Chairman Supreme Commander of the country's armed forces.[16] The 5th NPC was convened two years early, in 1978, and a third Constitution was adopted, which also lacked the office of State Chairman. A draft of a fourth Constitution was published in 1982, which was adopted without significant amendment at the 6th NPC in 1983, and as a result, the office of State Chairman of the PRC became that of President of the PRC as per the official English translation.

In this Constitution, the President was conceived of as a figurehead of state with actual state power resting in the hands of the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the Premier, and all three posts were designed to be held by separate people. The President therefore held minor responsibilities such as greeting foreign dignitaries and signing the appointment of embassy staff, and did not intervene in the affairs of the State Council or the Party. In the original 1982 Constitution plan, the Party would develop policy, the state would execute it, and the power would be divided to prevent a cult of personality from forming as it did with the case of Mao Zedong. Thus in 1982, China perceivably had four main leaders: Hu Yaobang, the Party General Secretary; Zhao Ziyang, the Premier; Li Xiannian, the President; and Deng Xiaoping, the "Paramount Leader", holding title of the CMC Chairman and was overall commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The current political structure of Vietnam is similar to the structure China followed in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the experiment of separating party and state posts, which led to conflict during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, was terminated. In 1993, the post of President was taken by Jiang Zemin, who as General Secretary of the Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, became the undisputed top leader of the party and the state. When Jiang Zemin stepped down in 2003, the offices of General Secretary and President were once again both given to one man, then Vice-President Hu Jintao, the first Vice President to assume the office. In turn, Hu vacated both offices for Xi Jinping in 2012 and 2013.

List of presidents[edit]

Presidents
Other Heads of State

President's Spouse[edit]

Since the first president, seven had a spouse during term of office.

Spouse President Tenure
1 Jiang Qing Mao Zedong 1 October 1949 - 27 April 1959
2 Wang Guangmei Liu Shaoqi 27 April 1959 - 31 October 1968
3 He Lianying Dong Biwu 31 October 1968 - 17 January 1975
4 Lin Jiamei Li Xiannian 18 June 1983 - 8 April 1988
5 Wang Yeping Jiang Zemin 27 March 1993 - 15 March 2003
6 Liu Yongqing Hu Jintao 15 March 2003 - 14 March 2013
7 Peng Liyuan Xi Jinping 14 March 2013 - Incumbent

Living former presidents[edit]

As of November 2014, there are two living former presidents:

President Term of office Date of birth
Jiang Zemin 1993-2003 (1926-08-17) 17 August 1926 (age 88)
Hu Jintao 2003-2013 (1942-12-21) 21 December 1942 (age 71)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The office of the President is a prestigious one. The President is the Head of the State. The Constitution of 1982 restores powers and functions of the President for the first time after the office was abolished during the Cultural Revolution. The President is a largely ceremonial position.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Krishna Kanta Handique State Open University, EXECUTIVE: THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHINESE REPUBLIC.
  2. ^ It is listed as such in the current Constitution; it is thus equivalent to organs such as the State Council, rather than to offices such as that of the Premier.
  3. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Section 2, Article 79.
  4. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Articles 62, 63.
  5. ^ Article 13 "Organic Law of the National People's Congress of the PRC". Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  6. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 84.
  7. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 62, Section 5. The NPC does no itself have the power to nominate the Premier.
  8. ^ Yew, Chiew Ping; Gang Chen (2010-03-13). "China's National People's Congress 2010: Addressing Challenges With No Breakthrough in Legislative Assertiveness". Background Brief. Singapore: East Asian Institute. Retrieved 2013-07-03. 
  9. ^ Weng, Byron (1982-09-01). "Some Key Aspects of the 1982 Draft Constitution of the People's Republic of China". The China Quarterly (91): 492–506. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  10. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 81.
  11. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 82.
  12. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, 1954, Articles 40-42.
  13. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 43.
  14. ^ Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 44.
  15. ^ Summary of the Decisions of the 33rd Meeting of the NPC Standing Committee
  16. ^ Cohen, Jerome Alan (1978-12-01). "China's Changing Constitution". The China Quarterly (76): 794–841. ISSN 0305-7410. JSTOR 652647. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 

External links[edit]