President of the People's Republic of China
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|President of the
People's Republic of China
|Nominator||the Presidium of the National People's Congress|
|Appointer||the National People's Congress|
|Term length||Five Years, renewable
|Inaugural holder||Mao Zedong (1954)
Li Xiannian (1983)
|Formation||September 1954-January 1975
|President of the People's Republic of China|
|Alternative Chinese name|
The President of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the titular head of state of China. The Presidency is a largely ceremonial office, with limited powers. It is classified as a state organ rather than an administrative post.
The office was first established in the PRC Constitution of 1954. It was abolished under the Constitution of 1975, then reinstated in the Constitution of 1982, but with reduced powers. The official PRC translation of the title was originally 'State Chairman'; after 1982, it was changed to 'President'. This is the translation now used in most English-language news reports.
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 China's paramount leader.
Qualifications and election
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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.
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.
According to the Organic Law of the NPC, the President is nominated by the NPC Presidium, the Congress's executive organ. 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.
Powers and duties
Under the current PRC constitution, the President's most important political power is to nominate the Premier of the People's Republic of China. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Council of National Defence (Chinese: 国防委员会)." 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 definted 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. 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. 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 posts. 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. The NPC and its Standing Committee did not meet again until 1975.
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. 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.
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.
In the 1990s, the experiment of separating party and state posts, which led to conflict during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, was terminated, and 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 made the office of the President a powerful position. 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. In turn, Hu vacated both offices for Xi Jinping in 2012/13.
List of presidents
(27 September 1954 - 27 April 1959)
(27 April 1959 - 31 October 1968)
(31 October 1968 - 24 February 1972)
(31 October 1968 - 17 January 1975)
(18 June 1983 - 8 April 1988)
(8 April 1988 - 27 March 1993)
(27 March 1993 - 15 March 2003)
(15 March 2003 - 14 March 2013)
(since 14 March 2013)
- Other Heads of State
Chairman of the Central People's Government (1949-1954)
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1975-1976)
Acting Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1976-1978)
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1978-1983)
Since the first president, seven had a spouse during term of office.
|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
As of March 2014, there are two living former presidents:
|President||Term of office||Date of birth|
|Jiang Zemin||1993-2003||17 August 1926|
|Hu Jintao||2003-2013||21 December 1942|
- List of leaders of the People's Republic of China
- Vice President of the People's Republic of China
- Premier of the People's Republic of China
- Political position ranking of the People's Republic of China
- Paramount Leader
- List of Chinese leaders
- Air transports of heads of state and government
- It is listed as such in the current Constitution; it is thus equivalent to organs such as the State Council, rather than offices such as Premier.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Section 2, Article 79.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Articles 62, 63.
- Article 13 "Organic Law of the National People's Congress of the PRC". Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 84.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 62, Section 5. The NPC does no itself have the power to nominate the Premier.
- 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.
- 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.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 81.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 82.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, 1954, Articles 40-42.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 43.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 44.
- Summary of the Decisions of the 33rd Meeting of the NPC Standing Committee
- 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.
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- The President's Official Website (English)