The Chinese government is one of the most important actors in international affairs today. China’s global economic and diplomatic presence is challenging the earlier dominance by the Western powers. To thoroughly understand how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has grown in power requires a careful analysis of its political system. What contribution has the political system and government activity made in respect to China’s economic transformation? What consequences will the economic modernisation and world-economic integration have on the political system? Is the political system able to adapt to changing economic, technological, and international conditions? Which potentials and risks will shape the mid-term development of the political system?
The book offers a differentiated understanding of the conditions, potentials and risks of the political development in China. It is based on a comprehensive of analysis of Chinese resources and gives readers the most current overview of international China research.
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Updates on China's Political System
We constantly update all chapters. You can browse all updates on China's Political System by key word or chapter of the book.
2.4.1 The State Council and its inner cabinet
The Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) (应急管理部) officially started operating on April 16. Executive Vice-Premier Han Zheng attended the inauguration ceremony and inspected the Ministry’s command center. MEM concentrates management duties related to various natural disasters, such as flood, fire, earthquake as well as industrial accidents, which were previously spread over thirteen authorities and ministries. Since the founding the National Security Committee in 2014, some Chinese experts have advocated building such a jointed mechanism to increase the efficiency of coordination and handling during a natural disaster or social crisis.
The State Councilor Xiao Jie officially unveiled the Ministry of Ecological Environment (MEE) (生态环境部) on April 16. This new body upgrades the former Ministry of Environmental Protection through adopting tasks such as the battle against emissions reduction, sea, river and underground water pollution as well as agricultural pollution and marine conservation etc., which were previously spread out among different ministries. Through such concentration of power and resource, the government hopes that environmental regulations will be implemented more efficiently and strictly.
The Ministry of Veterans Affairs (MVA) (退役军人事务部) officially opened on April 16. Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan took part in the opening ceremony. This new ministry is tasked with helping former soldiers smoothly integrate into the job market as well as ensure swift access to their pensions and retirements benefits. According to official statistics there are already 57 million retired military personnel. Furthermore, 300,000 military officials and soldiers should be cut during the ongoing military reform, as Xi Jinping announced in 2015.
China Banking and insurance regulatory Committee (CBIRC) (中国银行保险监督管理委员会), which merged from the former CBRC and CIRC, started running on April 8. CBIRC is chaired by Guo Shuqing, who is appointed as Party Secretary of PBOC at the same time. This unique personal overlap signals that the protection against systematic risk of the financial sector also accounts as the highest priority for the PBoC. In addition, some former responsibilities of CBRC and CIRC regarding drafts of key regulations and prudential supervision are shifted to the PBoC, while the CBIRC is tasked with oversighting both the banking and insurance industries and ensuring their development.
The State Market Regulatory Administration (SMRA) (国家市场监督管理总局) officially runs since April 10. It reports directly to the State Councilor Wang Yong who also participated in the inauguration ceremony. The key responsibilities of SMRA include comprehensive market supervision, market entity registration, market order maintenance and quality and safety of products. Furthermore, it assimilates anti-monopoly, anti-unfair competition and price supervision functions which were previously held by NDRC, MOFCOM, SAIC and the Bureau of Anti-Monopoly Commission of the State Council. Finally, SMRA governs the restructured State Intellectual Property Office.
The State Immigration Administration (SIA) (国家移民管理局) formally started operating on April 2. This new body is working under the Ministry of Public Security. According to the restructuring plan of the State Council, the SIA should not only reduce the bureaucracy of immigration but also coordinate the heading of illegal immigration. Guo Shengkun, the chairman of Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, and Zhao Kezhi, the State Councilor and Minster of Public Security, took part in the inauguration ceremony.
The restructured National Audit Office takes over the duties such as financial inspection of state investment projects previously carried out by the NDRC, examination of execution of central government’s annual budget and other financial expenditure previously undertaken by the Ministry of Finance, as well as financial control of leading cadres of state-owned enterprises previously executed by the SASAC. Through these changes, the National Audit Office becomes the sole auditor independent from all other government authorities. In the past years, the National Audit Office played a powerful but silent role in anti-corruption crackdown (see update 2.3.4).
After the re-election for a second five-year term by NPC, Premier Li Keqiang nominated four Vice-Premiers and five State Councilors to form the new inner cabinet with him. The NPC confirmed this nomination on March 19. The Vice-Premiers are Han Zheng (Executive Vice-Premier), Sun Chunlan, Hu Chunhua and Liu He. The State Councilors are Wei Fenghe (Minister of Defense), Wang Yong, Wang Yi (Minister of Foreign Affairs), Xiao Jie (Secretary General of the State Council) and Zhao Kezhi (Minister of Public Security). Each of them will be will be given a new portfolio due to the upcoming restructuring of State Council.
According to the restructuring program approved by the NPC on March 17, the new outer cabinet of the State Council consists of 26 ministries (see following table). The seven new ministries emerge through integrating similar functions previously scattered among different ministries, while the three restructured ministries extend their power by taking over duties from other bodies. Furthermore, ten new agencies subordinate to the state council, ministries and commissions will be set up (see table). With such restructuring the new State Council seeks to eliminate overlapping responsibilities among government agencies and creating a more effective regulatory architecture, which focus on economic adjustment, market regulation, social management, public service and environmental protection.
Most media overlooked two fundamental changes for the Ministry of Justice. The first one is that the former Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council is abolished. The offices’ responsibilities in terms of drafting laws and administrative regulations, coordinating legislative work and law enforcement, supervising affairs of administrative review are transferred to the Ministry of Justice. The second change is that the newly formed Central Commission for comprehensively “govern the country by law” (中央全面依法治国委员会), which is responsible for policy design of law-based governing on top level, will set up its office in the Ministry of Justice. Such institutional arrangements turn the Ministry of Justice into a main executive organ of the above-mentioned commission (see update 2.3.4).