On September 21, 1949, Mao Zedong announced thefounding of the People’s Republic of China at theFirst Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s PoliticalConsultative Conference (CPPCC) in Zhongnanhai’sHuairen Hall in Beijing. The meeting determined theestablishment of the National People’s Congress (NPC) as thehighest organ of state power, while the CPPCC plenary sessionwould temporarily exercise the NPC’s power before the first NPCassembled.
Five years later, more than 1,200 deputies from around the nationgathered in Huairen Hall for the First Session of the 1st NPC,marking the official establishment of the people’s congress systemin China. The system allows Chinese citizens to elect deputies toform multi-tiered people’s congresses, representing them to exercisetheir power to govern the state. The year 2014 marks the 60thbirthday of China’s people’s congress system. Over six decades,the system has witnessed increasing advancements in terms oflegal system, electoral system, and deputy diversity and constantlymoved towards democracy and the rule of law, although it suffereddestruction and even regression during the “cultural revolution”period (1966-1976). Its evolvement mirrors the development ofChinese society.
Maturing Legal System
According to China’s current Constitution, the NPC and itsStanding Committee exercise the legislative power of the state.Undoubtedly, the people’s congress system has played a significantrole in making China a country under the rule of law.
In 1954, the Constitution of the People’s Republic of Chinawas passed at the First Session of the 1st NPC. Over the followingyears, the NPC and its Standing Committee formulated a seriesof laws and regulations that ensured the smooth operation of thestate and society. However, across the two decades from 1957 when the country launched the Anti-Rightist Movement throughthe “cultural revolution,” China’s pace of legislation slowed andeven paused until 1978 when the Third Plenary Session of the 11thCentral Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) decidedto “bring order out of chaos.” In 1979, seven laws includingThe Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law, Organic Law of theLocal People’s Congresses and Local People’s Governments of thePRC, Electoral Law for the National People’s Congress and LocalPeople’s Congresses, Organic Law of the People’s Courts, OrganicLaw of the People’s Procuratorates, and Law on Chinese-ForeignEquity Joint Ventures were passed at the Second Session of the 5thNPC. Since then, laws and regulations have been passed at everyNPC session and even each plenary meeting of its Standing Committee.