Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party

Communist party members: 89 million. Population of California: nearly 40m

Politburo Standing Committee members

Li Keqiang Li Zhanshu Wang Yang Wang Huning Zhao Leji Han Zheng

other Politburo members

Cai Qi Chen Miner Chen Quanguo Chen Xi Ding Xuexiang Guo Shengkun
Huang Kunming Hu Chunhua Li Hongzhong Li Qiang Li Xi Liu He
Sun Chunlan Wang Chen Xu Qiliang Yang Jiechi Yang Xiaodu Zhang Youxia

About 3000
National People’s Congress

Li Keqiang
State Council head, Chinese Premier and Politburo Standing Committee member

Xi Jinping
Central Military Commission Chairman, Chinese President and General Secretary of the Communist Party

Xi Jinping

The Party

National People’s Congress

Xi Jinping

The Party

National People’s Congress

China's leader

Xi Jinping is the most powerful figure in the Chinese political system. He is the president of China, but his real influence comes from his position as the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party.

The Communist Party of China

With more than 89 million members, the Communist Party is the biggest political party in the world. It fully dominates all branches of China's political system.

The governing structure

In the Chinese system, the Communist Party is the power center that controls every government department, military force, court and parliamentary meeting.
The party rules over a pyramid structure, with Xi Jinping at the top and over 4 million grassroots branches at the bottom.

The Politburo Standing Committee

These are the seven most powerful politicians in China. They sit on the Communist Party's Politburo Standing Committee. That means they make up the inner circle of the Politburo (a Soviet-style name short for Political Bureau). Their decisions affect every facet of life in China.

The Politburo

The wider Politburo consists of 25 members, including the seven on the standing committee. Many of them are close to Xi Jinping and his allies. Some hold other high roles in the government, party or military.

The National People’s Congress

The congress, with about 3,000 delegates (not all of them are Communist Party members), is supposed to be the top governing body of the Chinese government. Its main job is to write laws and supervise the government.

But in reality, the congress is dominated by the Communist Party.

The State Council

The council enacts policy and presides over all government departments. It’s roughly equivalent to the cabinet in the US government system, and officially sits under the congress.

The military

In theory, the military reports to the congress through the Central Military Commission. But in practice, the Communist Party chief heads this commission. That means the party has direct leadership of the two million-strong People’s Liberation Army.

The judiciary

China says it is a country ruled by law. In some areas, such as commercial law, judgments are increasingly seen as fair and independent.

But in general, 'rule by law' is really the 'rule of the party'. The Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, headed by a Politburo member, oversees the judiciary and prosecutors.

The Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection

The Communist Party enforces internal discipline and loyalty through the Central Commission for Disciplinary Inspection. This body was, in the past, limited in its ability to pursue senior party members but has since been empowered to go after bigger fish.

The Central Organisation Department

In as much as the CCDI can end a party member’s career, the Organization Department can start it. This body is like the human resources department, and assigns roles to party members.

The governing structure

So that’s the Chinese political system in is simplest form. There are, of course, far more cogs in the mechanics of Chinese rule, but we will leave that for another day.