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From 1954 to 2024: Development of people's congress system


Editor's note: China will hold its annual "Two Sessions" in early March. Ahead of this year's key political meetings, CGTN presents "A look at China during the Two Sessions," a special series that takes an in-depth look at the country's endeavors in promoting people's livelihood, rural revitalization, economic development, sci-tech innovation and opening up.

On March 5, the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) will open its second annual session in Beijing. This year marks the 70th anniversary since the founding of China's NPC, the country's top legislature. Here is a list of milestones showing the evolution of China's fundamental political system.

Establishing the foundation: The 1954 Constitution

In September 1954, the Constitution of the People's Republic of China was unanimously adopted at the first session of the 1st NPC, marking a pivotal moment in China's political history.

The constitution declared that power in China belongs to the people, and the organs through which the people exercise state power are the National People's Congress and the local people's congresses at all levels.

Expanding legislative powers: The 1979 reform

In July 1979, the second session of the 5th NPC marked another milestone. Local people's congresses at or above the county levels started to maintain their standing committees from then on, granting local people's congresses the authority to formulate respective regulations.

This development expanded local legislative powers to better serve local economic and social development based on local realities.

Strengthening institutional framework: The 1982 constitutional revision

The adoption of the revised Constitution and the Organic Law of the NPC in December 1982 enhanced the institutional framework of the people's congress system. This reform allowed a delegation or a group of 30 or more deputies to submit motions to the NPC. A motion becomes legally binding once it is adopted. To improve the system of democratic supervision, NPC delegates were also given the right to make suggestions regarding issues that are of common concern to the people.

The 1982 Constitution also strengthened the functions of the Standing Committee of the NPC. For example, it stipulated that the Standing Committee of the NPC has legislative power and the right to amend or supplement the basic laws when the NPC is not in session.

More public engagement and equal representation

A groundbreaking initiative was taken in July 2005, when the Standing Committee of the NPC began publishing draft laws on its website to solicit public feedback.

The draft Property Law was released for public consultation, and over the course of a month, thousands of people submitted comments online. This move marked a significant step in promoting transparency and democracy in China's legislative process.

The adoption of the amendment to the Electoral Law in March 2010 marked another step in ensuring equal representation. The amendment clarified that both rural and urban areas adopt the same ratio of deputies to the represented population, further safeguarding equality and inclusivity in the political system.

In July 2015, the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee took a significant measure in bridging the legislative gap between the NPC and the grassroots. To solicit opinions from the grassroots and people from all walks of life on draft laws and legislative work, a group of local legislative outreach offices were established, providing a platform for grassroots communities and individuals to voice their legislative concerns and reflect social opinions.

The move aimed to ensure that the voices of the people are heard and reflected in the legislative process, further promoting whole-process people's democracy. Lawmakers have solicited public opinions on 142 draft laws and legislative work plans through local legislative outreach offices between 2015 and 2022. More than 22,000 suggestions have been received by May 2023, of which over 3,100 had been adopted.

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