Brief History of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was established on September 21, 1949.
The CPPCC held its First Plenary Session from September 21 to 30, 1949, in Beiping (now Beijing). The First Plenary Session exercised the functions and powers of the National People's Congress (NPC), represented the will of the people of the whole country and proclaimed the founding of the People's Republic of China. It adopted a provisional constitution entitled the Common Program of the CPPCC, the Organic Law of the CPPCC and the Organic Law of the Central People's Government of the People's Republic of China. It selected Beijing as the capital of the People's Republic of China, made the five-star red flag the national flag, chose the òMarch of the Volunteersó as the national anthem and decided that China should adopt the Gregorian calendar. The session also elected the Central People's Government Council of the People's Republic of China and the 1st National Committee of the CPPCC. On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China held its founding ceremony. On December 2, 1949, the Central People's Government Council, at the recommendation of the National Committee of the CPPCC, set October 1 as National Day.
After the founding of New China, the CPPCC made enormous contributions to restoring and developing the national economy, consolidating the newly emerged people's political power, assisted the government in carrying out social reforms, and promoted the socialist revolution and socialist construction.
The First Session of the 1st NPC was held in September 1954, and it adopted the Constitution of the People's Republic of China. In December of the same year, the CPPCC Charter was passed at the First Session of the 2nd National Committee of the CPPCC. The Charter states that the Common Program has been replaced by the Constitution and that the Plenary Session of the CPPCC will no longer exercise the functions and powers of the NPC. But the CPPCC will continue to exist and play the role of a united front organization.
During more than ten years from 1955 to 1966, the CPPCC played the extremely important role of uniting the people of all ethnic groups as well as all patriotic forces, promoting people's democracy, enlivening the political and social activities of the country, and mobilizing all positive factors to serve national development.
In 1978, when China entered a new period of reform, opening up and modernization, the CPPCC also entered a new period of development. China's united front has further expanded and become the broadest possible patriotic united front composed of the whole body of socialist workers, everyone working to develop the socialist cause, and all patriots who support socialism and the reunification of the motherland. The CPPCC has also developed into a patriotic united front organization that includes representatives of all these types from all political parties and organizations, ethnic groups, and walks of life. Throughout this new period, the CPPCC has focused on promoting reform and opening up, the modernization drive and the great cause of reuniting the motherland and played an important role in China's political, economic, cultural and social activities by actively participating in political deliberations, making proposals, safeguarding public stability and unity, strengthening relations with compatriots in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan and with overseas Chinese, and increasing mutual understanding and cooperative exchanges with all the countries and peoples of the world.
The extraordinary course of development of the CPPCC over the past 50 plus years can be summarized in two words: unity and democracy. The unity and democracy that have come into being under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) are a concentrated embodiment of the nature of the CPPCC, the historical basis for the founding and development of the CPPCC and the direction and mission the CPPCC takes in going from the past into the future.
The chairpersons of the 1st to the 10th CPPCC National Committees (1949-2004) are: Mao Zedong (the 1st and honorary chairman of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th), Zhou Enlai (the 2nd, 3rd and 4th), Deng Xiaoping (the 5th), Deng Yingchao (the 6th), Li Xiannian (the 7th), Li Ruihuan (the 8th and 9th), and Jia Qinglin (the 10th).
The Nature and Position of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The nature of the CPPCC
The CPPCC is a Chinese people's patriotic united front organization. It is an important institution of multiparty cooperation and political consultation led by the CPC. It is an important way to promote socialist democracy in China's political life.
The position of the CPPCC in China's political system
The basic structure of China's political system is that of the unification of the system of people's congresses, the system of multiparty cooperation and political consultation, and the system of regional ethnic autonomy under the leadership of the CPC.
The two most important features of China's socialist democracy are that the NPC exercises its power through elections and voting and that before such elections and voting occur, the CPPCC conducts thorough consultations. The relation between the CPPCC, the NPC and the government is that the CPPCC holds discussions before policy decisions are made, the NPC votes on policy decisions after the discussions are finished, and the government carries them out after policy decisions are made. The three functions are unified under the leadership of the CPC. The three bodies share the work and cooperate, each doing its job, and they mutually complement each other. This political system suits China's conditions and has uniquely Chinese characteristics, and the CPPCC plays an important role in it.
The Composition of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The CPPCC has a National Committee and local committees.
The National Committee
The CPPCC National Committee is composed of representatives from the CPC and all the democratic parties as well as dignitaries without party affiliations; representatives of people's organizations, all the ethnic minorities and various sectors of society; representatives of compatriots from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan and of returned overseas Chinese; and specially invited dignitaries.
The term of office for the CPPCC National Committee is five years. The 10th National Committee is presently in office. The National Committee is composed of a Chairman, several Vice-Chairmen and a Secretary-General.
The National Committee of the 10th CPPCC:
Chairman: Jia Qinglin.
Vice-Chairpersons: Wang Zhongyu, Liao Hui, Liu Yandong (f), Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme (Tibetan), Ba Jin, Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai (Tibetan), Li Guixian, Zhang Siqing, Ding Guangxun, Henry Ying Tung Fok, Ma Man Kei, Bai Lichen (Hui), Luo Haocai, Zhang Kehui, Zhou Tienong, Hao Jianxiu (f), Chen Kuiyuan, Abula’hat Abdurixit (Uygur), Xu Kuangdi, Li Zhaozhuo (Zhuang), Huang Mengfu, Wang Xuan, Zhang Huaixi, Li Meng, Tung Chee-hwa, Zhang Meiying (f) and Zhang Rongming (f).
Secretary-General: Zheng Wantong.
The National Committee has a Standing Committee that is in charge of its day-to-day affairs. The Standing Committee is composed of the Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Secretary-General of the National Committee and other members. Candidates for the Standing Committee are nominated from among the membership of the CPPCC National Committee by the parties, organizations, ethnic groups and public figures from the various sectors of society represented in the CPPCC, and they are elected at a plenary session of the National Committee. The Chairman of the National Committee is in charge of the work of the Standing Committee. The Vice-Chairmen and Secretary-General assist him in doing this work. The Chairman, Vice-Chairmen and Secretary-General constitute the Chair's Council, which handles the important day-to-day work of the Standing Committee.
To meet the demands of the work, the National Committee has several special committees and other working bodies. The special committees operate under the direction of the Standing Committee and the Chair's Council and organize members to carry out regular activities. Each special committee is constituted of a chairman, and several vice chairmen and members.
The 10th CPPCC National Committee has nine special committees. They are:
1) Committee for Handling Proposals
2) Committee for Economic Affairs
3) Committee of Population, Resources and Environment
4) Committee of Education, Science, Culture, Health and Sports
5) Committee for Social and Legal Affairs
6) Committee for Ethnic and Religious Affairs
7) Committee for Liaison with Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and Overseas Chinese
8) Committee of Foreign Affairs
9) Committee for Learning and Cultural and Historical Data
The National Committee has a General Office that works under the direction of the Secretary-General and a number of deputy secretaries-general who assist the Secretary-General in his or her work.
All provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the Central Government, autonomous prefectures, cities divided into districts, counties, autonomous counties, cities not divided into districts, and city districts that have the necessary conditions to establish a CPPCC committee have such a committee. At present the CPPCC has over 3,000 local committees at various levels, with more than 500,000 members.
Local committees of the CPPCC at all levels hold office for five years. The composition, formation, and main responsibilities and organizational structure of the local committees and their standing committees are determined on the basis of the CPPCC Charter in light of actual conditions in their locality and the practices of the National Committee.
Members of CPPCC committees are selected by means of consultation and recommendation. The determination of the number of members of the CPPCC National Committee and the selection of members are done by the preceding National Committee. First, the Chair's Council reaches agreement on these matters; then, the Standing Committee discusses them and decides.
Members of CPPCC committees are people from every walk of life who are representatives of their sectors of society and have social influence.
Members of CPPCC committees are required to have a close relation with the people, to understand and reflect the people's hopes and demands, and to participate in meetings and activities of their committees.
Members of CPPCC committees have the following democratic rights. In the CPPCC committee of which they are a member, they have the right to vote, elect and stand for election, to make suggestions and criticisms concerning the work of their committee, and to participate in the discussion of national policies and principles and important local issues through their committee or in its meetings. They also have the additional rights to make suggestions concerning and criticisms of government agencies and their employees, to expose violations of discipline or the law and participate in the investigation of such violations, to freely declare their resignation from the CPPCC, and to request reconsideration if they are censured by or expelled from the CPPCC. CPPCC committees, in accordance with the law, protect the democratic rights of their members to carry out their duties.
Members of CPPCC committees have the duty to abide by and carry out the Charter of the CPPCC and resolutions passed at the meetings of their committees.
The 10th National Committee of the CPPCC currently has 2,289 members. Of this number, 921, or 40%, are CPC members and 1,368, or 60%, are not. There are 681 members from the various democratic parties, 260 members representing 55 ethnic minorities, and 381 women. In addition, there are leaders from all of China's major religions, well-known dignitaries from all walks of life in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, experts who are Chinese citizens of foreign descent, and representatives of social strata that have newly emerged through social change. This kind of composition abundantly exhibits the spirit of unity and solidarity that binds the whole Chinese nation.
Altogether there are 34 organizations or interest groups represented in the 10th National Committee of the CPPCC. They are:
1. the CPC
2. the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang
3. the China Democratic League
4. the China Democratic National Construction Association
5. the China Association for Promoting Democracy
6. the Chinese Peasants and Workers Democratic Party
7. the China Zhi Gong Party
8. the Jiu San Society
9. the Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League
10. dignitaries without party affiliation
11. the Communist Youth League of China
12. the All-China Federation of Trade Unions
13. the All-China Women's Federation
14. the All-China Youth Federation
15. the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce
16. the China Association for Science and Technology
17. the All-China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots
18. the All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese
19. the world of literature and art
20. the world of science and technology
21. the world of social science
22. the world of economics
23. the world of agriculture and forestry
24. the world of education
25. the world of sports
26. the world of news and publishing
27. the world of medicine and health
28. international friendship activists
29. welfare and social security providers
30. the ethnic minorities
31. the world of religion
32. specially invited Hong Kong dignitaries
33. specially invited Macao dignitaries
34. other specially invited dignitaries
The Main Functions of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
The main functions of the CPPCC are political consultation, democratic supervision and participation in deliberation and administration of state affairs. These three major functions are the important content and basic forms by which all political parties, people's organizations and dignitaries of all ethnic groups and sectors of society participate in and play a role in state affairs. These functions also reflect the nature and unique traits of the CPPCC and are an important hallmark distinguishing the CPPCC from other political organizations.
Political consultation is consultation on important political policies at the national and local levels and on important economic, cultural and social issues before the policies have been adopted and on major problems that arise in their implementation.
Democratic supervision is carried out by making suggestions and criticisms on the implementation of the state's Constitution, laws and statutes, and major principles and policies, and the work of the state organs and their functionaries.
Participation in deliberation and administration of state affairs
The participation of the CPPCC in deliberation and administration of state affairs consists of carrying out investigations, reporting on social conditions and public sentiments, and deliberating important political, economic, cultural and social issues and on issues for which there is widespread public concern. The CPPCC conveys its criticisms and suggestions to the CPC and government bodies in investigation reports, proposals, motions or in other forms.
The Main Ways in Which the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Does Its Work
Meetings are an important way in which the CPPCC exercises its functions. The main types of meetings of the National Committee are: plenary meetings, meetings of the Standing Committee, meetings of the Chair's Council, meetings of the Secretary-General's Council, and meetings of special committees. In addition, different kinds of consultative conferences, evaluative meetings and public hearings are convened as circumstances require.
Plenary meetings are the highest form of consultation by the CPPCC. The National Committee holds a plenary session once a year, generally in March in conjunction with the session of the NPC. The work of these plenary sessions consists primarily of discussing the Report on the Work of the Government, the reports on the national plan, the state budget and the work of the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate, and of examining and approving the report on the work of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee and the report on the work of writing proposals.
Meetings of the Standing Committee are the CPPCC's principal form of consultation when a plenary session is not in session. In general, the Standing Committee meets four times a year. The main tasks of its meetings are: to listen to important reports by leaders of the CPC Central Committee and State Council, discuss major national policies and important issues directly affecting the national economy and people's livelihoods, examine and approve important motions, proposals and investigation reports, and study important issues arising in the CPPCC's work.
Meetings of the Chair's Council are the CPPCC's principal form of consultation when the Standing Committee is not in session. Their main tasks are: to discuss important national policies and issues of direct concern to the people, examine important proposals that the National Committee or its Standing Committee has designated to be submitted to the CPC Central Committee or the State Council, draw up the schedule and draft agenda for the Standing Committee's meetings, examine and approve documents submitted to the Standing Committee, and carry out the resolutions and handle the important daily work of the Standing Committee.
Proposals are written comments and suggestions that are made by members of CPPCC committees, political parties and organizations represented in the CPPCC or special committees of the CPPCC to a plenary session of a CPPCC committee or its Standing Committee and are examined and recorded before being referred to the relevant body for implementation. In general there are four ways in which proposals are made. First, an individual member or a number of individuals collectively can make a proposal. Second, during a plenary session, any interest group of the CPPCC or a number of groups collectively can make a proposal. Third, any party or people's organization participating in the CPPCC or a number of them collectively can make a proposal in its (their) name. Fourth, any special committee of a CPPCC committee or a number of special committees collectively can make a proposal in its (their) name. For all proposals of the CPPCC, the bodies that would be responsible for carrying them out should conscientiously handle them in accordance with regulations, after which they should make a written reply within a fixed time limit and the National Committee of the CPPCC should oversee the implementation in various ways.
Inspection is one of the basic kinds of work done by members of CPPCC committees. It is how they learn about conditions, review work, study problems, participate in deliberation of state affairs and make proposals and an important way in which they exercise democratic power and carry out democratic supervision. Every year, the CPPCC National Committee systematically organizes its members to go on inspection tours all over China related to the central tasks of the state.
Undertaking special studies and offering advice on their basis is an important way in which the CPPCC draws on its strengths to participate in administration of state affairs. In general, special studies are undertaken by special committees organized by bringing together experts from various fields related to the study being undertaken. These studies are focused on issues relevant to the central tasks of the state and practical and pertinent criticisms and suggestions are put forward for promoting the coordinated development of material, political and spiritual civilization.
Reporting on social conditions and popular sentiments
Reporting on social conditions and popular sentiments is an important basis and a key link in the CPPCC's performing its functions. The CPPCC requires that members of CPPCC committees maintain close relations with all sectors of society and make comprehensive reports on the true state of affairs in society and the concerns of the people in a timely fashion. These reports give leaders at all levels a thorough understanding of the situation and a firm basis for making correct decisions, and thereby contribute to solving a number of practical problems.
Promoting reunification of the motherland
The CPPCC unwaveringly carries out the policy of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems. It contributes to the complete reunification of the motherland by strengthening its cooperation with all relevant organizations, opening avenues of communication with people from all walks of life in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Macao Special Administrative Region and Taiwan and overseas Chinese, undertaking a broad range of social activities to enhance friendp with them, and trying to cultivate solidarity with them.
Expanding foreign contacts
The CPPCC's foreign contacts are an important component of China's overall diplomacy. Bearing in mind the overall interests of the state, the CPPCC works hard to strengthen its friendly contacts and cooperative exchanges with all countries in the world and to safeguard world peace and promote common development. As of August 2005, the CPPCC had already established friendly contacts with 188 organizations in 111 countries and 8 international or regional organizations.