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Congressional Research Service, “China’s Political Institutions and Leaders in Charts,” November 12, 2013

Susan V. Lawrence wrote this report for CRS.
November 12, 2013


This report provides a snapshot of China’s leading political institutions and current leaders in the form of nine organization charts and three tables. The report is a companion to CRS Report R41007, Understanding China’s Political System , by Susan V. Lawrence and Michael F. Martin, which provides a detailed explanation of China’s political system. This chart-based report is intended to assist Members and their staffs seeking to  understand where political institutions and individuals fit within the broader Chinese political system and to identify which Chinese officials are responsible for specific portfolios. The information may be useful for Members and staff visiting China, hosting visitors from China, preparing for China-related hearings, or drafting China-related legislation.

Figures 1 and 2 depict China’s political power structure as it was envisioned in Chapter 3 of the 1982 state constitution, and as actually implemented. The key difference is that while Chapter 3 of the state constitution identifies the National People’s Congress as the highest organ of state power, the Communist Party of China exercises leadership over the entire political system.

Figures 3, 4, and 5 provide information about the Communist Party’s leadership. Figure 3 presents the Party’s hierarchy. Figure 4 lists the members of the Party’s most senior decision-making body, the Politburo Standing Committee, and their portfolios. Figure 5 lists all 25 members of the full Politburo and their principal areas of responsibility.

Figure 6 lists the members of the Central Military Commission, a Party body that exercises unified command over the armed forces, known collectively as the People’s Liberation Army.

Figure 7 shows where the largely honorary office of the State President sits within the state hierarchy, according to the state constitution. The president’s authority actually derives from his concurrent post as General Secretary of the Communist Party.

Figure 8 presents the hierarchy of the State Council, a cabinet-like entity which is tasked with implementing Party policies and managing the state bureaucracy. China conducts its relations with most of the world through the State Council. Table 1 introduces the 10 members of the State Council Executive Committee, listed by rank, with information about each official’s portfolio. Figure 9 depicts the organizational structure of China’s unicameral legislature, the National People’s Congress.

Table 2 lists leading Party, military, and State officials with portfolios that include foreign affairs. Table 3 lists the top officials of China’s Foreign Ministry, with information about each official’s portfolio.

Click here to download the report.

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