Lately there’s been a lot of news in China about Oasis’ abjorkted trip to China and YouTube outages. While the blog and twitter-spheres were ablaze with these developments (flaming like the CCTV tower, I’m tempted to add), you may still have overheard the confusing array of acronyms all over the news this week. This week in Beijing party leaders from all over China met to discuss China’s plans for the coming year in a world filled with political and economic turmoil. In this series we will be providing the Readers Digest version of this important event.
Part 1: ‘OPP, yeah you know me’ – a guide to the players
The main event this week is a massive 2 for 1 meeting of the minds that make up the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Consultative Congress (CPPCC). In Chinese, the event can conveniently be referred to as Lianghui – The Two Meetings.
The CPPCC is a political advisory body drawn from across party lines, although the number of delegates from each party is determined beforehand. Naturally, the dominating body is the CPC (Communist Party of China) but the idea is to have a wider representation of political opinion than the normal, largely CPC dominated government meetings.
The CPPCC (which I’m starting to think of CPC² to save time) grew out of postwar negotiations between the CPC and Kuomintang (KMT). Four years later, in 1949, the Political Consultative Conference was reborn as the People’s Political Consultative Conference and, as it’s first act, beefed up its name, approved the first five year plan, national anthem, flag, capital city and state name, and elected the first PRC government. In 1954, after that initial burst of hard work, the legislative function of the body was transferred to the National People’s Congress and now the role of the CPPCC, chaired by former electrical motor and appliance design and engineering student and mayor of Beijing Jia Qinglin, is more advisory, the CPPCC is not mentioned in the PRC Constitution and its formal responsibilities are not officially defined.
If the responsibilities of the CPPCC are a bit unclear, the members of the NPC (National People’s Congress) wake up in the morning knowing exactly what they should be doing – as the highest state body and only legislative house, their job is to run China. Delegates are elected by a series of representative elections that start with the local electorates and advance, kind of like the World Cup, until someone is seated in the Great Hall of the People and the defeated have returned home. The president of the NPC is the president himself, Hu Jintao, who also happens to hold a postgraduate engineering degree in hub hydropower stations from Tsinghua University.
If you’re trying to count your Ps and Qs, you’ve probably lost count of the former. Because the NPC has a whopping 3000 members, it’s really not practical for them to be getting together to debate new national holidays or chimp laws (as American legislatures saw fit to do this week). As a result, the NPCSC is the group of 150 NPC members who run the country in between conferences and interpret the laws and constitution of the PRC. The chair of the NSPC is Wu Bangguo who, before entering politics, received a masters in electronic vacuum device engineering from Tsinghua University.
Coming soon in Part II… The Issues
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