President of the People's Republic of China
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|President of the
People's Republic of China
|Nominator||the Presidium of the National People's Congress|
|Appointer||the National People's Congress|
|Term length||Five Years, renewable
|Inaugural holder||Mao Zedong (1954)
Li Xiannian (1983)
|Formation||September 1954-January 1975
|President of the People's Republic of China|
|Alternative Chinese name|
The President of the People's Republic of China is the head of state of the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Presidency is a largely ceremonial office, with limited powers. It is classified as a state organ rather than an administrative post.1
The office was first established in the PRC Constitution of 1954. It was abolished under the Constitution of 1975, then reinstated in the Constitution of 1982, but with reduced powers. The official PRC translation of the title was originally 'State Chairman'; after 1982, it was changed to 'President'. This is the translation now used in most English-language news reports.
The current President is Xi Jinping, who also holds the positions of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, making him China's paramount leader.
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According to the current Constitution of the People's Republic of China, the President must be a Chinese citizen with full electoral rights who has reached the age of 45. The President's term of office is the same as the term of the National People's Congress (currently five years), and the president and vice-president are both limited to two consecutive terms.2
The President is elected by the National People's Congress (NPC), China's highest state body, which also has the power to remove the President and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by a simple majority vote.3
According to the Organic Law of the NPC, the President is nominated by the NPC Presidium, the Congress's executive organ.4 In practice, however, the ruling Communist Party of China reserves the post of President for its current General Secretary. Like all officers of state elected by the NPC, the President is elected from a one name ballot.
In the event that the office of President falls vacant, the Vice-President succeeds to the office. In the event that both offices fall vacant, the Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee temporarily acts as President until the NPC can elect a new President and Vice-President.5
Under the current PRC constitution, the President's most important political power is to nominate the Premier of the People's Republic of China.6 The NPC votes on 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.7 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.8
Once the NPC has approved the Premier, the President then issues his official appointment. As head of government, the Premier has the power to appoint the entire State Council of the People's Republic of China, subject to NPC approval. The President then issues the appointments for the Vice-Premiers, State Council members and Ministers of all departments.
In addition to nominating the Premier, the President also has the power to promulgate statutes, confer state medals and titles, issue pardons, proclaim war, and issue mobilization orders. However, since the President exercises these powers in accordance with the decisions of the NPC or its Standing Committee, and is not empowered to reject any of these measures, these are formal powers only.9
The President has similar duties in foreign affairs, including appointment and recall of representatives abroad, and ratification and abrogation of treaties and agreements concluded with foreign states. The President exercises these powers in accordance with the decisions of the Standing Committee of the NPC, so that these are also formal powers only.10
In the first constitution of the People's Republic of China, the head of state was titled as the "Chairman of the People's Republic," but was usually translated outside of China as "President of the People's Republic." The post was intended to be quite powerful, serving as both head of state and nominal Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces (the People's Liberation Army). He had special powers to call upon emergency meetings during a crisis or concerns of national security.
Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party of China and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, had already been head of state as Chairman of the Central People's Government since 1949. His appointment as president underlined his status as the most powerful person in China. After his failures in the Great Leap Forward, Mao decided to give up the State presidency in 1959. He was succeeded in this post by Liu Shaoqi, who along with Premier Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping, took on a more active role in government to curb the excesses of the Great Leap Forward and restore a Soviet-based centrally planned economy. However, in 1966, Mao launched the Cultural Revolution to re-assert his personal power and overthrow the Liu government. The state and party apparatus broke down and in 1968, Liu Shaoqi was ousted from the chairmanship, humiliated by the Red Guards and arrested.
Liu was not replaced, making the post vacant. Mao concentrated powers centrally into the hands of the Party Chairman and the CMC Chairman - posts he held himself. These powers were further exercised by various Revolutionary Committees. The ceremonial duties associated with the Head of State were subsequently passed to the Chairman of the National People's Congress, the national legislature - a practice common in some other Communist countries. The exact reason why Mao refused to reinstate the presidency was unclear, however it is now known that Mao did not want his political struggle with Liu to be remembered as his attempt to claim the title of the presidency for himself. Defense Minister Lin Biao, then China's number-two figure, advocated for the reinstatement of the position of President, with Mao taking the position and himself becoming Vice-President. Mao later considered this to be a threat to his power, as the Vice-President could legally succeed the President in the event of the latter's death. But during the early 1980s, it became clearer that China needed a person to serve as the Head of State, albeit completely ceremonial. Soong Ching-ling, the widow of Sun Yat-sen and PRC Acting President twice (from 1968 to 1975 and 1976 to 1978) and former Vice-President (the first woman to hold this position), was named to be the Honorary President of the PRC before the passage of the Constitution of 1982.
In the Constitution of 1982, the President was conceived of as a figurehead head of state with actual state power resting in the hands of the General Secretary of the Communist Party and the Premier, and all three posts were designed to be held by separate people. The President therefore held minor responsibilities 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. In the original 1982 Constitution plan, the Party would develop policy, the state would execute it, and the power would be divided to prevent a cult of personality from forming as it did with the case of Mao Zedong. Thus in 1982, China perceivably had four main leaders: Hu Yaobang, the Party General Secretary; Zhao Ziyang, the Premier; Li Xiannian, the President; and Deng Xiaoping, the "Paramount Leader", holding title of the CMC Chairman.
In the 1990s, the experiment of separating party and state posts, which led to conflict during the Tiananmen demonstrations of 1989, was terminated, and in 1993, the post of President was taken by Jiang Zemin, who as General Secretary of the Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission made the office of the President a powerful position. When Jiang Zemin stepped down in 2003, the offices of General Secretary and President were once again both given to one man, then Vice-President Hu Jintao. In turn, Hu passed both offices to Xi Jinping in 2012/13.
(27 September 1954 - 27 April 1959)
(27 April 1959 - 31 October 1968)
(31 October 1968 - 24 February 1975)
(31 October 1968 - 24 February 1975)
(18 June 1983 - 8 April 1988)
(8 April 1988 - 27 March 1993)
(27 March 1993 - 15 March 2003)
(15 March 2003 - 14 March 2013)
(since 14 March 2013)
- Other Heads of State
Chairman of the Central People's Government (1949-1954)
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1975-1976)
Acting Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1976-1978)
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (1976-1983)
Since the first president, seven had a spouse during term of office.
|1||Jiang Qing||Mao Zedong||1 October 1949 - 27 April 1959|
|2||Wang Guangmei||Liu Shaoqi||27 April 1959 - 31 October 1968|
|3||He Lianying||Dong Biwu||31 October 1968 - 17 January 1975|
|4||Lin Jiamei||Li Xiannian||18 June 1983 - 8 April 1988|
|5||Wang Yeping||Jiang Zemin||27 March 1993 - 15 March 2003|
|6||Liu Yongqing||Hu Jintao||15 March 2003 - 14 March 2013|
|7||Peng Liyuan||Xi Jinping||14 March 2013 - Incumbent|
As of December 2013, there are two living former presidents:
|President||Term of office||Date of birth|
|Jiang Zemin||1993-2003||17 August 1926|
|Hu Jintao||2003-2013||21 December 1942|
- List of leaders of the People's Republic of China
- Vice President of the People's Republic of China
- Premier of the People's Republic of China
- Political position ranking of the People's Republic of China
- Paramount Leader
- List of Chinese leaders
- Air transports of heads of state and government
- It is listed as such in the current Constitution; it is thus equivalent to organs such as the State Council, rather than offices such as Premier.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Section 2, Article 79.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Articles 62, 63.
- Article 13 "Organic Law of the National People's Congress of the PRC". Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 84.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 62, Section 5. The NPC does not itself have the power to nominate the Premier.
- Yew, Chiew Ping; Gang Chen (2010-03-13). "China's National People's Congress 2010: Addressing Challenges With No Breakthrough in Legislative Assertiveness". Background Brief. Singapore: East Asian Institute. Retrieved 2013-07-03.
- Weng, Byron (1982-09-01). "Some Key Aspects of the 1982 Draft Constitution of the People's Republic of China". The China Quarterly (91): 492–506. Retrieved 2013-01-26.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 81.
- Constitution of the People's Republic of China, Article 82.
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- The President's Official Website (English)