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The Chinese Government

PRC, People&34;s Republic of China
The People&34;s Republic of China (PRC) has ruled China as a Communist state since October 1, 1949.
National Anthemn
"March of the Volunteers"
Republic of China on Taiwan
National Anthemn
"Chung Hwa Min Kuo Kuo Ke"
China has lived with two governments since December 1949, following a vicious civil war between the Communists and the ruling Nationalists.

The victorious Communists under Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic of China on the mainland, with their capitol in Beijing. General Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese (Kuomintang) fled to the island of Taiwan, where they established a "provisional" capitol in the city of Taipei.

From 1949 until 1991, the Taipei regime claimed to be the sole and legitimate government of all China, including the mainland. While the structure of the Taiwan government has remained essentially unchanged, Taiwan authorities have abandoned the claim of governing mainland China and no longer "dispute the fact that the PRC controls mainland China."


The People's Republic of China        The Republic of China on Taiwan

Since its inception in 1949, the PRC has remained a single-party state controlled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The three branches of the Chinese Government remain subordinate to the CCP and exist primarily to implement party policies. China is ruled by a CCP Politburo and an ever-shrinking circle of retired, but still powerful senior leaders. Despite its continued official adherence to Marxism-Leninism, in recent years China has become more decentralized, less ideological, and increasingly market oriented in its attempt to develop a "socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics."

There are two primary instruments of state power on mainland China:  the State Council, an executive body much like a cabinet, and the National People's Congress (NPC), a unicameral legislative body.

Executive Branch

The PRC President and Vice President are elected directly by the National People's Congress (NPC). All members of the State Council are ultimately appointed by the National People's Congress. China's Premier and six Vice Premiers are appointed Heads of Government by the president and approved by the National People's Congress. Nine state councilors, the heads of various ministries, and the heads of other commissions and agencies attached to the State Council are appointed by the NPC.

Legislative Branch

Under China's Constitution, approved in December 1982, the 2,977-member National People's Congress (Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui) is theoretically the state's leading government body. Its members are elected by secret ballot by provincial-level people's congresses for a five-year term. The NPC meets for about two weeks each year to review and discuss major new policy initiatives presented to it by the State Council after endorsement by the Communist Party's Central Committee.

Judicial Branch

By tradition, China never considered the judiciary independent of the party or the government. The PRC first began moving to establish a functioning a legal system in 1979, with new legal codes taking effect on January 1, 1980. The PRC legal system is largely criminal law, a complex blend of custom and statutes. China's 1982 constitution, adopted by the NPC emphasizes the rule of law under which even party leaders are now held accountable. A basic civil code took effect on January 1, 1987, and the PRC is continuing its efforts to improve China's civil, administrative, criminal, and commercial law. Still, many of the fundamental human rights incorporated in China's Constitution - freedom of association, religion, speech, and the press - are frequently ignored or severely restricted, particularly whenever citizens challenge the CCP&34;s political authority.

The Supreme People's Court, whose judges are appointed by the National People's Congress, sits as the highest court of appeal for civil or criminal cases. The shortage of trained lawyers and legal aides complicates the delivery of legal services in the courts. China's legal system is supported mainly through the use of Mediation Committees, groups of citizens who resolve up to 90% of all civil disputes and some minor criminal cases at no cost to the parties involved. Those charged with political crimes however, are frequently treated harshly and arbitrarily.

Political Parties

Chinese Communist Party (CCP). While the CCP is the only true political party in the PRC, there are also eight registered small parties controlled by the CCP. Other political or pressure groups exist only as loose coalitions, or factions, usually within the CCP, and frequently form and disperse in response to various issues.

The CIA World Factbook contains the latest information on China's Government.

The Republic of China on Taiwan        The People's Republic of China

Operating under a constitution first adopted on January 1, 1947, the Nationalist Government of the Kuomintang functioned as a single-party authoritarian state. From 1948 to 1987, Taiwan lived under martial law imposed by an emergency decree that gave the president virtually unlimited powers for use against the Communists. Until martial law was ended in 1987, individuals and groups expressing dissenting views were treated harshly. In the wake of a liberalizing trend that began in the late 1980s, Taiwan has worked to create a democratic political system. It greatly reduced restrictions on the press, relaxed restrictions on personal freedoms, and lifted the prohibition against organizing new political parties. Following its first direct presidential elections in 1996, Taiwan has become an open, vigorous multi-party democracy with three major parties and more than 70 registered parties.

The Republic of China on Taiwan operates under a system of Five Yuan:  Executive, Legislative (parliament), Judicial, Control, and Examination.

Executive Yuan

The President and Vice President are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The president is leader of Taiwan and Commander-in-Chief of its armed forces. The Premier (President of the Executive Yuan) and Vice Premier (Vice President of the Executive Yuan) are appointed by the president subject to the consent of the Legislative Yuan. The Executive Yuan is roughly analogous to the United States executive branch of government in that it constitutes the cabinet and is responsible for policy and administration.

Legislative Yuan

Taiwan's Legislative Yuan (LY) and the separate National Assembly are unicameral parliamentary legislative bodies. The LY, Taiwan's main lawmaking body, dates from the late 1940s, when it was viewed as little more than a "rubber stamp" institution. It now has a greatly enhanced standing in relation to the Executive Yuan and has established itself as an important player in government.

Under the constitution adopted by the Kuomintang in 1947, the National Assembly emerged as the body which would exercise the sovereignty of the people. This body was carried to Taiwan in 1949. Composed of 325 members serving four-year terms, the National Assembly has been given enhanced powers to evolved to amend the constitution, recall the president, impeach the president, and ratify certain presidential appointments in other branches of the government, but has no general legislative functions.

Judicial Yuan

The Judicial Yuan administers Taiwan's court system and a legal system based on civil law. The President appoints - with the consent of the National Assembly - the 17 justices who serve nine year terms on the Council of Grand Justices that interprets the constitution.

Control Yuan

The 29 members of the Control Yuan are appointed by the president and approved by the National Assembly to serve six year terms. This body monitors the efficiency of the public service and investigates instances of corruption.

Examination Yuan

This body functions as a Civil Service Commission.

Political Parties

Kuomintang (KMT, or Nationalist Party);  Democratic Progressive Party (DPP);  Chinese New Party (CNP);  Labor Party (LP). Other political or pressure groups include the Taiwan independence movement and various environmental groups.

NOTE:  Prior to 1986, candidates opposing the Kuomintang ran in elections as either independents or "nonpartisans." Despite the official ban on forming new political parties, many "nonpartisans" illegally banded together to create Taiwan's first new opposition party in over four decades, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP's political support and influence increased following the legalization of new political parties in 1989. The second major opposition party, the Chinese New Party (CNP), formed in 1993 around a conservative platform that emphasizes "clean government" and the original KMT focus on reunification with the mainland.

Political liberalization has heightened debate on the island's national identity. While the KMT retains its belief that Taiwan and the mainland are both part of "one China," the DPP maintains that Taiwan is a separate entity from mainland China and openly advocates establishing a sovereign nation on Taiwan and entering the United Nations.

The CIA World Factbook contains the latest information on Taiwan's Government.


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