President of the People's Republic of China

The president of the People's Republic of China, commonly called the president of China, is the state representative of the People's Republic of China. The presidency is a part of the system of people's congress based on the principle of unified power in which the National People's Congress (NPC) functions as the only branch of government and as the highest state organ of power. The presidency is a state organ of the NPC and equivalent to, for instance, the State Council and the National Supervisory Commission, rather than a political office, unlike the premier of the State Council. The president can engage in state affairs and receive foreign diplomatic envoys on behalf of China, but to perform other heads of state functions, the president needs the consent of the NPC or the NPC Standing Committee. While the presidency is not a powerful organ in itself, since 27 March 1993, the president has concurrently served as general secretary of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and chairman of the Central Military Commission, making the incumbent China's paramount leader and supreme commander of the armed forces.

President of the
People's Republic of China
Xi Jinping
since 14 March 2013
Office of the President of the
People's Republic of China
TypeState representative
Reports toNational People's Congress and its Standing Committee
ResidenceWest Building, Zhongnanhai
NominatorPresidium of the National People's Congress
AppointerNational People's Congress
Term lengthFive years,
renewable with no-limit
Constituting instrumentConstitution of the People's Republic of China
PrecursorChairman of the Central People's Government (1949–1954)
Formation27 September 1954; 69 years ago (1954-09-27)
First holderMao Zedong
DeputyVice President
SalaryCN¥150,000 per annum est. (2015)[1]
President of the
people’s Republic of China
Simplified Chinese中华人民共和国主席
Traditional Chinese中華人民共和國主席
alternative name
Simplified Chinese(中国)国家主席
Traditional Chinese(中國)國家主席

The first state representative of the People's Republic of China was the chairman of the Central People's Government, which was established on 1 October 1949 by a decision of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It was replaced in Constitution in 1954 with the office of state chairman. It was successively held by Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi. Liu fell into political disgrace during the Cultural Revolution, after which the presidency became vacant. The post of chairman was abolished under the Constitution of 1975, and the function of state representative was bestowed on the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee. The office was reinstated in the Constitution of 1982 but with reduced powers. Since 1982, the title's official English-language translation has been "president", although the Chinese title remains unchanged.[note 1]

During the Mao era, there were no term limits for the presidency. Between 1982 and 2018, the constitution stipulated that the president could not serve more than two consecutive terms. In 2018, term limits were abolished in order to align the presidency with the position of CCP general secretary, which does not have term limits.

History edit

Establishment in 1954 edit

The office of state chairman (the original English translation) was first established under the 1954 Constitution.[2] Though 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.[2] 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)."[2] The National Defence Council was unique to the 1954 Constitution, and was mandated as the civil command for the People's Liberation Army. 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."[2] 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 and National Defense Councils.[2] 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.

History up to 1974 edit

CCP Chairman Mao Zedong was the first to hold the office of state chairman. He was elected at the founding session of the National People's Congress in 1954. At the 2nd NPC in 1959, Mao was succeeded by Liu Shaoqi, first-ranked Vice Chairman of the Chinese 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 the 12th Plenum of the 8th Communist Party Congress stripped Liu Shaoqi of all his party and non-party positions on 31 October 1968, including the post of state chairman. This was in violation of the Constitution, which required a vote by the NPC to remove the state chairman.[citation needed] After Liu's removal in 1968, the office of state chairman was vacant. From 1972 to 1975, however, state media referred to Vice State Chairman Dong Biwu as "acting state chairman".[citation needed]

Abolition in 1975 edit

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 CCP chairman supreme commander of the PLA in concurrence as chairman of the party CMC, while the duties of state representative were transferred to the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.[3] The 5th NPC was convened two years early, in 1978, and a third Constitution was adopted, which also lacked the office of state chairman, but did place a greater emphasis on the ceremonial roles performed by the chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress as state representative.[4][better source needed]

Restoration in 1982 edit

When it was agreed to amend the constitution again in 1980, questions to whether to restore the presidency arose. Research showed that having the NPCSC chairman as the national representative created problems, as the position was equivalent to the speaker of parliament in other countries. Deng Xiaoping agreed to restore the presidency, but without powers in specific government affairs.[4]

The office was reinstated in the fourth Constitution, adopted by the 5th Session of the 5th NPC in 1982.[4] In the 1982 Constitution, the party developed policy while the state executed it, and the president was conceived of as a ceremonial and replacement figure with a role similar to that of equivalent of figurehead presidents in parliamentary republics. Actual state power was vested in the general secretary of the Communist Party, the premier, and the chairman of the Central Military Commission. As part of the effort to prevent another leader from rising above the party as Mao had done, all four posts were intended to be held by separate people. The president therefore performed ceremonial duties 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. The constitution also mandated term limits for the office, stipulating the president and vice president could not serve more than two consecutive terms.[citation needed]

The posts of the premier, president and CCP general secretary were held by different individuals in the 1980s. That said, in reality political power was concentrated on Deng Xiaoping, effectively the paramount leader, who controlled the Party, government and the military from "behind the scenes" without holding any of the three posts. However, presidents Li Xiannian (1983–1988) and Yang Shangkun (1988–1993) were not simple figureheads, but actually significant players in the highest leadership. They derived most of their power from being amongst the Eight Elders, rather than the office of president.[5]

In the 1990s, the experiment of separating party and state posts, which led to conflict between Deng Xiaoping and Zhao Ziyang during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, was terminated. In 1993, Jiang Zemin, who had been general secretary of the CCP and chairman of the Central Military Commission since 1989, assumed the presidency as well, becoming the undisputed top leader of the party and the state.[6][7] Jiang stepped down as president in 2003, handing the post to then–Vice President Hu Jintao, the first vice president to assume the office. Hu had already become general secretary in 2002. In turn, Hu vacated both offices for Xi Jinping in 2012 and 2013, who had also previously served as vice president under Hu.[8]

On March 11, 2018, the first session of the 13th National People's Congress, by a vote of 2,958 in favor, two opposed and three abstaining, passed a constitutional amendment that removed the previous term limits for the president and the vice president.[9] Xi explained the decision in terms of needing to align the presidency with his more powerful posts of general secretary of the party and CMC chairman, which do not have term limits.[10]

Selection edit

Eligibility edit

Article 79 of the Constitution sets three qualifications for being elected for the presidency. To serve as president, one must:

Election edit

According to the Organic Law of the National People's Congress (NPC), constitutionally China's highest organ of state power, the president is nominated by the NPC Presidium, the Congress's executive organ.[12][non-primary source needed] However, the nomination is effectively made by the Chinese Communist Party, with the decisions being made among Party leaders.[13] Although the Presidium could theoretically nominate multiple candidates for the presidency, leading the election to be competitive, it has always nominated a single candidate for the office.[13]

After the nomination, the president is elected by the NPC, which also has the power to remove the president and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by majority vote.[11][non-primary source needed] The length of the president's term of office is the same as the NPC, which is 5 years.[11] Since 2018, the president is required to recite the constitutional oath of office before assuming office.[13]

Powers and duties edit

The president functions as the state representative of the PRC as well as the supreme representative of China both internally and externally.[14] According to the constitution, the presidency is not a position but a state institution that represents the PRC in state activities, but the presidency is served by one person.[4][better source needed]

Under the current constitution, instated in 1982 with minor revisions in later years, the president has the power to promulgate laws, select and dismiss the premier (head of government), vice premiers, state councilors as well as ministers of the State Council, grant presidential pardons, declare states of emergency, issue mass mobilization orders, and issue state honors. In addition, the president names and dismisses ambassadors to foreign countries, and signs and annuls treaties with foreign entities. According to the Constitution, all of these powers require the approval or confirmation of the National People's Congress (NPC),[11][non-primary source needed] which the office is subject to.[14]

The president also conducts state visits on behalf of the People's Republic.[note 2] Under the constitution, the "state visit" clause is the only presidential power that does not stipulate any form of oversight from the NPC. As the vast majority of presidential powers are dependent on the ratification of the NPC, the president is, in essence, a symbolic post without any direct say in the governance of state. It is therefore conceived to mainly function as a symbolic institution of the state rather than an office with true executive powers.[15][16][17]

In theory, the president has discretion over the selection of the premier, though in practice the premier has historically been selected through the top-level discussions of the Chinese Communist Party. Upon the nomination of the premier, the NPC convenes to confirm 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.[18] 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.[19]

The director of the Office of the President of the PRC (Chinese: 中华人民共和国主席办公室; pinyin: Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó Zhǔxí Bàngōngshì) is Cai Qi, who is also the director of the CCP General Office and the director of the CCP General Secretary Office.[20]

Political ranking edit

The political ranking of the presidency has changed throughout the decades, influenced by the officeholder of the time. 2nd President Liu Shaoqi was also the first-ranked vice chairman of the Chinese Communist Party, and ranked second in the Chinese Communist Party, behind CCP Chairman Mao Zedong.[21] President Li Xiannian was also the 5th ranked member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee, after the CCP general secretary and Chinese premier.[22] President Yang Shangkun was not a member of CCP Politburo Standing Committee, but he ranked third after CCP General Secretary Zhao Ziyang/Jiang Zemin and CMC Chairman Deng Xiaoping.[23] Since Jiang Zemin's accession to the office in 1993, the president has also the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, ranking first in party and state.[24]

Post title edit

The title of the office (Chinese: 国家主席; pinyin: Guójiā Zhǔxí), which literally translates to "state chairman", was unchanged in the Chinese text, but a new English translation of "President of the People's Republic of China" has been adopted since 1982, instead of "Chairman of the People's Republic of China".[16]

Order of succession edit

Article 84 of the Constitution of China. If the office of president falls vacant, then the vice president succeeds to the office. If both offices fall vacant, then the chairman of the NPC Standing Committee temporarily acts as president until the NPC can elect a new president and vice president.[25]

List of state representatives edit

Timeline edit

Xi JinpingHu JintaoJiang ZeminYang ShangkunLi XiannianYe JianyingZhu DeSoong Ching-lingDong BiwuLiu ShaoqiMao Zedong

Chairmen edit

Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress edit

Presidents edit

Statistics edit

# President Date of birth Age at ascension
(first term)
Time in office
Age at retirement
(last term)
Date of death Longevity
1 Zedong, MaoMao Zedong 1893122626 December 1893(26 December 1893) 60 27560 years, 275 days 04 2124 years, 212 days 64 12264 years, 122 days 197609099 September 1976 30,20782 years, 258 days
2 Shaoqi, LiuLiu Shaoqi 1898112424 November 1898(24 November 1898) 60 15460 years, 154 days 09 1879 years, 187 days 69 34269 years, 342 days 1969111212 November 1969 25,92070 years, 353 days
Presidency vacant
acting Biwu, DongDong Biwu 188603055 March 1886(5 March 1886) 85 35685 years, 356 days 02 3272 years, 327 days 88 31888 years, 318 days 197504022 April 1975 32,53489 years, 28 days
Hon. Ching-ling, SoongSoong Ching-ling 1893012727 January 1893(27 January 1893) 83 16188 years, 109 days 01 242Honorary[26][27]

85 037

1981052929 May 1981 32,26388 years, 122 days
Presidency abolished
3 Xiannian, LiLi Xiannian 1909062323 June 1909(23 June 1909) 73 36073 years, 360 days 04 2954 years, 295 days 78 29078 years, 290 days 1992062121 June 1992 30,31482 years, 364 days
4 Shangkun, YangYang Shangkun 190708033 August 1907(3 August 1907) 80 25080 years, 250 days 04 3524 years, 352 days 85 23685 years, 236 days 1998091414 September 1998 33,28091 years, 42 days
5 Zemin, JiangJiang Zemin 1926081717 August 1926(17 August 1926) 66 22266 years, 222 days 09 3539 years, 353 days 76 21076 years, 210 days 2022113030 November 2022 35,16996 years, 105 days
6 Jintao, HuHu Jintao 1942122121 December 1942(21 December 1942) 60 08460 years, 84 days 09 3649 years, 365 days 70 08470 years, 84 days Living 29,56280 years, 342 days (Living)
7 Jinping, XiXi Jinping 1953061515 June 1953(15 June 1953) 59 years, 272 days 10 years, 259 days (Incumbent) Incumbent Living 25,73370 years, 166 days (Living)

Spouse of the president edit

Since the first president, six presidents have had a spouse during their term in office. The current spouse is Peng Liyuan, wife of President Xi Jinping.

No. Image Spouse President Tenure
1   Jiang Qing Mao Zedong 27 September 1954 – 27 April 1959
2   Wang Guangmei Liu Shaoqi 27 April 1959 – 31 October 1968
3   Lin Jiamei Li Xiannian 18 June 1983 – 8 April 1988
Vacant Yang Shangkun 8 April 1988 – 27 March 1993
4   Wang Yeping Jiang Zemin 27 March 1993 – 15 March 2003
5   Liu Yongqing Hu Jintao 15 March 2003 – 14 March 2013
6   Peng Liyuan Xi Jinping 14 March 2013 – Incumbent

See also edit

Notes edit

  1. ^ In Chinese, the president of the PRC is termed zhǔxí, while the presidents of other countries are termed zǒngtǒng. Furthermore, zhǔxí continues to mean "chairman" in a generic context. Incidentally, the president of the Republic of China is termed zǒngtǒng.
  2. ^ Currently, a specially configured Boeing 747-8i is used to carry the president on international trips. See Air transports of heads of state and government#China, People's Republic of (China) for more details.

References edit

  1. ^ Luo, Wangshu (20 January 2015). "Public Employees Get Salary Increase". China Daily. Archived from the original on 5 June 2019. Retrieved 4 November 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e Chang, Yu-Nan (1956). "The Chinese Communist State System Under the Constitution of 1954". The Journal of Politics. 18 (3): 520–546. doi:10.2307/2127261. ISSN 0022-3816. JSTOR 2127261. S2CID 154446161.
  3. ^ Cohen, Jerome Alan (1978). "China's Changing Constitution". The China Quarterly. 76 (76): 794–841. doi:10.1017/S0305741000049584. JSTOR 652647. S2CID 153288789. Archived from the original on 19 September 2020. Retrieved 18 October 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "国家主席是什么样的国家机构?" [What kind of national institution is the State President?]. 14 March 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  5. ^ Foreword in Zhao, Ziyang (2009). Bao Pu; Adi Ignatius; Renee Chiang (eds.). Prisoner of the State: The Secret Journal of Zhao Ziyang. Foreword by Roderick MacFarquhar. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-4938-6.
  6. ^ "A Simple Guide to the Chinese Government". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 13 May 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2018. Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in the Chinese political system. He is the President of China, but his real influence comes from his position as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.
  7. ^ Blanchard, Ben; Wong, Sue-Lin (25 February 2018). "China Sets Stage for Xi to Stay in Office Indefinitely". Reuters. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 26 February 2018. However, the role of party chief is more senior than that of president. At some point, Xi could be given a party position that also enables him to stay on as long as he likes.
  8. ^ Choi, Chi-yuk; Zhou, Viola (6 October 2017). "Does Chinese Leader Xi Jinping Plan to Hang on to Power for More than 10 Years?". South China Morning Post. Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017. If Xi relinquished the presidency in 2023 but remained party chief and chairman of the Central Military commission (CMC), his successor as president would be nothing more than a symbolic figure... "Once the president is neither the party's general secretary nor the CMC chairman, he or she will be hollowed out, just like a body without a soul."
  9. ^ "China Approves 'president for Life' Change". BBC News. 11 March 2018. Archived from the original on 11 March 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  10. ^ Mitchell, Tom (16 April 2018). "China's Xi Jinping Says He Is Opposed to Life-Long Rule". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018. President insists term extension is necessary to align government and party posts
  11. ^ a b c d "Constitution of the People's Republic of China". National People's Congress. Retrieved 1 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Organic Law of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China". National People's Congress. 11 March 2021. Retrieved 11 January 2023.
  13. ^ a b c Liao, Zewei (4 March 2023). "NPC 2023: How China Selects Its State Leaders for the Next Five Years". NPC Observer. Retrieved 3 November 2023.
  14. ^ a b "President of the People's Republic of China". Retrieved 2 September 2023.
  15. ^ Buckley, Chris; Wu, Adam (10 March 2018). "Ending Term Limits for China's Xi Is a Big Deal. Here's Why". New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 1 December 2019. In China, the political job that matters most is the general secretary of the Communist Party. The party controls the military and domestic security forces, and sets the policies that the government carries out. China's presidency lacks the authority of the American and French presidencies.
  16. ^ a b Wong 2023, p. 24.
  17. ^ Mai, Jun (8 May 2021). "Who leads the Communist Party?". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 17 January 2023. Xi Jinping is often referred to by his ceremonial role as guojia zhuxi, or "state chairman", a title usually translated into English as "president". But it is his position as the party's general secretary that indicates his top status.
  18. ^ Yew, Chiew Ping; Gang Chen (2010). China's National People's Congress 2010: Addressing Challenges With No Breakthrough in Legislative Assertiveness (PDF). Background Brief. Singapore: East Asian Institute. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2015. Retrieved 3 July 2013.
  19. ^ Weng, Byron (1982). "Some Key Aspects of the 1982 Draft Constitution of the People's Republic of China". The China Quarterly. 91 (91): 492–506. doi:10.1017/S0305741000000692. JSTOR 653370. S2CID 153804208.
  20. ^ "中共十九届中央领导机构成员简历-新华网". Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  21. ^ Mathews, Jay (4 March 1980). "5 Children of Liu Shaoqi Detail Years in Disfavor". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 29 April 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  22. ^ "Li Xiannian: China's New President". United Press International. 18 June 1983. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  23. ^ Del Vecchio, Mark S. (8 April 1988). "Yang Shangkun Elected Chinese President". United Press International. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  24. ^ "Jiang Zemin to Have Lower Rank in Communist Party". The Telegraph. Agence France-Presse. 24 January 2013. Archived from the original on 12 March 2018. Retrieved 12 March 2018.
  25. ^ Wong 2023, p. 306.
  26. ^ "历届中华人民共和国主席". Archived from the original on 15 June 2020. Retrieved 3 August 2022.
  27. ^ "中华人民共和国国务院公报一九八一年第十一号" (PDF). 中华人民共和国国务院 State Council of the People's Republic of China. pp. 327–328. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 November 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2022.

Works cited edit