Backgrounder: How CCP and other parties function in the Chinese Party System


Every country in the world have their own distinguishing features. The type of a political party system a country chooses depend on its national characteristics which are more or less country specific. Chiefly, the nature of socio-economic, cultural and other national features determines the type of political system a country adopts. In this respect, there are different types of party systems in the world today. For instance, in the US, we can see an effective two-party system dominated by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Likewise, in other parts of the world, we can see a multi-party system such that in Europe or in India or a one-party system practiced in North Korea and Laos.

Chinese party system is unique to other countries. According to the White Paper issued by the Chinese Government (called the China’s Political Party System), the political system is described as that of an incorporated “multiparty cooperation and political consultation” whereby the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) assumes the ‘leadership’ and guardianship role in this system. Under this system of multiparty cooperation contrary to the popular wisdom, the CCP is not the only political party in China. Together with the CCP, there are eight other non-communist parties known as democratic parties accommodated by the Chinese “multiparty cooperation system”. Both the CCP as well as the democratic parties adhere to and oblige by the Chinese constitution. In addition, the democratic parties accept the leadership of the CCP. Unlike the party system we see elsewhere around the world, the democratic parties in China are neither part of a coalition of the ruling party nor are they opposition party like in the system of parliamentary democracy. Rather, this system which is the outcome brought by the efforts of the Chinese people’s revolution is time tested and both the CCP and democratic parties closely work together upholding the constitution, involving in consultation and mutual supervision, instituting changes and accommodating reforms. [1]However, the Western critiques argue that the eight democratic parties have a very limited say in the Chinese political system and argue that the “existence” of these parties is to demonstrate to the outside world that China is not a “one party state”. [2]On the contrary, the democratic parties and the Communist Party work closely with the aim of strengthening ‘Socialist democratic system with Chinese Characteristics’.The democratic parties participate in state affairs with sincerity and commitment’. [3] As a way to increase political and social integration of the eight democratic parties, the CCP recommends members of the democratic parties to various positions in the government and other political institutions. Among others, party leaders from democratic parties are entrusted with the vice-chairmanship in the National People’s Congress. [4]The fact that the members of these eight democratic parties have representation in the people’s congress (both local level to state level) as well as on the CPPCC and other political organs of China is a testament to this.

The Chinese Communist Party

The CCP was founded in 1921 and is the oldest and the ruling political party in China. With over 91 million party members, the CCP is the largest political party in China and second largest in the world (in terms of party membership, second to Bhartiya Janata Party of India). Ever since the establishment of the PRC some 70 years ago, the CCP has been at the forefront of China’s political, economic, and social development. It is under the Communist Party’s competent leadership that China leapfrogged from being one of the poorest countries in the world to becoming the second largest economy.

CCP, the Democratic Parties and the Chinese Party System

The White Paper mentions that the consultation in the Chinese party system takes place in two ways: First, between the communist party and other non-communist parties and second, in addition to these parties include other stakeholders which takes place under the framework of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). [5]In the CPPCC, democratic parties have a considerable representation in both of its national and local committees.

The CPPCC is an important element of Chinese political institution which acts as an important “political advisory body” and provides an avenue for “political consultation” and “democratic consultation” with the ruling party. It is comprised of representatives from the CCP, members from democratic parties, ethnic groups, people with no party affiliation as well as eminent persons. In the CPPCC, discussion and consultation on matters of policy issues ranging from concerns at local level to state affairs are conducted and suggestions and recommendations are provided. Among others, Political Consultation involves areas of budgetary, reform policies, matters of foreign policies, drafting of laws to name a few. Whereas under democratic supervision includes areas such as laws governing the state, socio-economic development plans, compliance to constitution and laws and others.  The consultation and discussion on issues are done before any policy with regards to them are formulated and implemented. [6]However, the CPPCC is only a ceremonial advisory body and so any recommendations and suggestions received, the CCP is not obliged to implement them per se. [7] In addition to the CPPCC, consultation and democratic supervision is also facilitated through meetings conducted by various committees of the Chinese political institutions. In sum, recommendations, suggestion, as well as constructive criticisms are provided.[8]

In general, involvement in discourse on state affairs takes place in different manners. First is the “democratic consultation” which takes place under the framework of the CPPCC where participants ranging from leaders of the Communist Party to leaders from democratic parties in addition nonpartisan people and other invitees assemble once a year and consult on important policies brought in light by the CPC. Second includes “high-level talks” that involves more or less similar members but fewer participants and talk is centered around common agendas. Similarly, meetings hosted by the central committee of the communist party are held twice a month where information is disseminated, important documents are shared, views are exchanged and participants share their opinions and suggestions. Likewise, the CPC Central Committee avails itself open to suggestion on policy matters in written form and also open to in-person exchanges for the same. [9]


In sum, democratic election coupled with democratic consultation is a salient feature of the Chinese Political Party System. Among the functions of the Chinese political system include the political participation where not just the CCP (as ruling party) party members but also members of democratic parties are involved in the process. In addition, other stakeholders from all walks of life are also brought together in policy matters under the umbrella of the leadership of the CCP as a way to understand public concerns and opinions and to build consensus. This makes the political process inclusive and integrated. Under a strong political leadership as the one provided by the Communist Party for more than seven decades has provided a stable domestic political environment based on which China has shown the world of its unique political system.


[1] “China’s Political Party System,”,

[2] Understanding China’s Political System , United States Congressional Research Service, 10 May 2012, R41007, available at:

[3] “Political Parties and Social Organizations,” Political Parties and Social Organizations,

[4] Understanding China’s Political System

[5]  “White Paper on China’s Political Party System, 2007,” November 15, 2007,

[6] “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,” Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, n.d.,

[7] Understanding China’s Political System 

[8]  “Multi-Party Cooperation Under CPC Leadership,” Multi-Party Cooperation Under CPC Leadership, n.d.,

[9] “The System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation,” IV. The System of Multi-Party Cooperation and Political Consultation, n.d.,

Sirish Paudel
Sirish Paudel
Sirish Paudel graduated in International Relations from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Jilin University. Currently, his research interests are Indo-Nepal and Sino-Nepal relations and the role of cyber in International Relations.


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