The National People's Congress (NPC) is the supreme organ of state power in China. It is composed of NPC deputies who are elected according to law from 35 electoral units from the people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, the People's Liberation Army, the deputy election council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Taiwan compatriots' consultation election council. Each congress is elected for a term of five years. A total of 2,987 deputies were elected to the current 11th NPC before the first session was convened.
The NPC meets in session once a year. An interim session of the NPC may be convened at any time if the Standing Committee of the NPC deems it necessary or if one-fifth or more of its deputies so propose.
Functions and Powers of the National People's Congress
To amend the Constitution and oversee its enforcement. Only the NPC has the power to amend the Constitution. Amendments to the Constitution must be proposed by the NPC Standing Committee or by one-fifth or more of the NPC deputies, and they must be passed by a two-thirds majority vote of all deputies. The Constitution of the People's Republic of China was adopted at the First Session of the First NPC in 1954 and comprehensively revised by the NPC in 1982. The current Constitution is the one promulgated and put into effect after this revision. Since then, the NPC has partially amended the Constitution on four occasions, in 1988, 1993, 1999 and 2004. To defend the dignity of the Constitution and guarantee its enforcement, the NPC also enjoys the power to oversee its enforcement.
To enact and amend basic laws governing criminal offences, civil affairs, state organs and other matters. The NPC has enacted the Criminal Law, the Criminal Procedure Law, the Organic Law of the NPC, the Organic Law of the State Council, the Organic Law of Local People's Congresses and Local People's Governments, the Organic Law of the People's Courts, the Organic Law of the People's Procuratorates, the Law on the Autonomy of Ethnic Minority Region, the Electoral Law, and the Law on Deputies to the NPC and to the Local People's Congresses. The Marriage Law, the Citizenship Law, the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Basic Law of the Macao Special Administrative Region were also enacted by the NPC.
To elect and appoint members to central state organs. The NPC elects the Chairman, Vice Chairmen, Secretary-General and other members of its Standing Committee and the President and the Vice President of the People's Republic of China. It appoints the Premier of the State Council based on the nomination by the President of the People's Republic of China and appoints the Vice premiers, State Councilors, Ministers in charge of ministries or commissions, the Governor of the People's Bank of China, the Auditor-General and the Secretary-General of the State Council based on nominations by the Premier. It elects the Chairman of the Central Military Commission and appoints all other members of the Central Military Commission based on the Chairman's nominations. It also elects the President of the Supreme People's Court and the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The NPC has the power to remove from office any of the above-mentioned officials.
To determine major state issues. This work includes examining and approving the report on the plan for national economic and social development and on its implementation; examining the report on the central and local budgets and their implementation and approving the report on the central budget and its implementation; approving the establishment of provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government; deciding where to establish special administrative regions and what system they should institute; and deciding questions of war and peace. The establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region, Hainan Province and Chongqing Municipality and the building of the Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River were all decided by the NPC.
The state organs of the People's Republic of China act on the principle of democratic centralism. While give full to democracy, the NPC exercises powers and make decisions collectively.
Convocation of sessions. NPC sessions are held in the first quarter of the year and are called by the NPC Standing Committee. The first session of each NPC is called by the Standing Committee of the previous NPC within two months following the completion of the election of the deputies. A session is not considered valid unless two-thirds or more of all NPC deputies attend.
Forms of sessions. During an NPC session, plenary meetings and meetings of delegations are held. The main tasks of plenary meetings are to listen to the work reports by the NPC Standing Committee, the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate; to listen to the report on the implementation of the plan for national economic and social development and on the draft plan for national economic and social development; to listen to the report on the implementation of the central and local budgets and on the draft plan for the central and local budgets; to listen to the testimony made by the sponsors of bills submitted to the session for deliberation; to vote on bills; and to elect, appoint or remove personnel in Central Government departments in accordance with the law. There are two kinds of meetings of delegations, plenary meetings and workshops. The main responsibilities of plenary meetings are to examine and approve the reports and bills on the session's agenda.
Submitting bills. The Presidium of the NPC session, the Standing Committee and the special committees of the NPC, the State Council, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People's Court or the Supreme People's Procuratorate, may submit a bill to the NPC within the scope of its authority. The Presidium decides whether the bill should be put on the session's agenda or not; or it may do so after the bill is referred to the special committee concerned for examination and decision on its inclusion on the agenda.
Examining work reports. During an annual NPC session, the NPC Standing Committee, the State Council, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate present their work reports at the session. After the reports are examined by the delegations, the session may make resolutions on them.
Deliberating bills. A bill on the session's agenda is first explained by its sponsor at a plenary meeting, and then is deliberated at meetings of delegations and special committees, after which reports on the deliberations are made. Based on suggestions by delegations and special committees, the Law Committee undertakes a unified deliberation of the bill and submits a report on the results of the deliberations and a revised draft law to the presidium of the session. After review and approval by the presidium, the revised bill is printed and distributed to the session and voted on at a plenary meeting.
Examining state plans and budgets. One month before the NPC session is held, the relevant competent departments of the State Council should brief the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee of the NPC and appropriate special committees on the new plan for national economic and social development and the implementation of the previous as well as the newly drafted local and central budgets and the implementation of the previous central budget for the preliminary examination of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee. When the NPC holds a session, the State Council should submit these reports to the session, and print and distribute to the session the main targets in the draft plan for national economic and social development, the statement of revenue and expenditures in the draft state budget, and the draft report on the implementation of the state budget for examination by all delegations, the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee and other appropriate special committees. Based on suggestions by delegations and other appropriate special committees, the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee examines the new plan for national economic and social development and the implementation of the previous as well as the newly drafted local and central budgets and the implementation of the previous central budget, and it submits reports on the results of this examination to the Presidium.
Once reviewed and approved by the Presidium, the reports are printed and distributed to the session, and the draft resolution on the new plan and on the implementation of the previous one and the draft resolution on the new budgets and on the implementation of the previous central budget are voted on at a plenary meeting. After the state plan and the central budget are approved by the NPC, proposals for partial adjustments to them that prove necessary in the course of their implementation are submitted by the State Council to the NPC Standing Committee for examination and approval.
Voting on bills. Bills are voted on at plenary meetings of the NPC, and they will be adopted if a simple majority of all deputies vote for them. An amendment to the Constitution requires a two-thirds majority vote to be passed. Voting results are announced by the Chairman of the meeting when the voting is completed. After a bill becomes law, the President of the People's Republic of China signs a decree to promulgate it. After an amendment to the Constitution is adopted, it is promulgated by the Presidium of the NPC session.
At an NPC session, the Presidium decides whether to vote on bills by ballot, show of hands or some other method. Voting on amendments to the Constitution is always by ballot.
Inquiries. During an NPC session, a delegation, or 30 or more deputies acting collectively may address written inquiries to the State Council, its departments, the Supreme People's Court, and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The Presidium of the session may require responsible members of the departments in question to respond orally at a meeting of the Presidium or of interested special committees or delegations, or require the departments to reply in writing. If the deputies or delegations that addressed the inquiries are dissatisfied with the answers, they may require the departments in question to make additional replies subject to the approval of the Presidium.
Inquiry into specific questions. The Presidium of the session, three or more delegations, or one-tenth or more of all deputies acting collectively may propose that a committee of inquiry into specific questions be organized. Such proposals are presented by the Presidium to a plenary meeting for approval. An inquiry committee consists of the Chairman and a number of vice Chairmen and other members. The nominations for these positions are made by the Presidium from among deputies and are approved at a plenary meeting. During inquiries by these committees, all relevant government departments, mass organizations and citizens are obliged to provide whatever information is required. The committees should submit reports to the NPC. The NPC may adopt resolutions based on the reports. When the NPC is not in session, it may authorize its Standing Committee to listen to reports of inquiry committees and adopt resolutions, which should be reported to the NPC at its next session for the record.
Recall. During an NPC session, its Presidium, three or more delegations, or one-tenth or more of all deputies acting collectively may make a motion to recall members of the NPC Standing Committee, the President, or Vice President of the People's Republic of China, members of the State Council, members of the Central Military Commission, the President of the Supreme People's Court or the Procurator-General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. A recall motion may be presented by the Presidium to all delegations for discussion and then to a plenary meeting to be voted on; or, the Presidium may suggest and the plenary meeting approve that an inquiry committee be set up and that the following NPC session deliberate and decide on the matter on the basis of the inquiry committee's report.
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