Communist Party gains more control over China’s cabinet



China’s National People’s Congress on Monday changed a law that effectively gives the Communist Party more administrative control over China’s cabinet, the State Council, after canceling the prime minister’s post-meeting press conference for the first time in three decades.

During the closing days of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, the revised Organic Law of the State Council was adopted by 2,883 delegates, with 8 voting against and 9 abstaining.

It is the latest in a series of measures in recent years that have gradually reduced the administrative power of the State Council, headed by Premier Li Qiang, which is nominally responsible for the management of China’s 21 government ministries and local governments.

Legal experts said the first revision to the State Council Organic Law since 1982 continues a trend of transferring more power from the state to the party, allowing the government to faithfully implement party directives.

The newly added clause emphasizes that the State Council must “resolutely safeguard the authority and centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee” and follow Xi Jinping Thought.

“This is a major shift in the reorganization of administrative power in China,” said Ryan Mitchell, a law professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “While it has always been obvious that the party’s top leader is the most influential figure in the entire hierarchy, the exact division of labor in decision-making, especially oversight of policy implementation, can be opaque.” Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Li Hongzhong, vice-chairman of the committee, said in a speech at the National People’s Congress last week that the purpose of the revision was to “deepen the reform of party and state institutions” and “comprehensively implement the constitution.” In 2018, the constitution was revised to: Reaffirm the party’s leadership in everything.

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“This is yet another sign that the Communist Party is increasing its public control over state institutions and wants to be seen as fully accountable,” said Thomas Kellogg, a professor of Asian law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He added: “Politics takes the lead, and both party cadres and government officials should pay closer attention to the party’s instructions and ideological guidance as the main guide for daily decision-making.”

The canceled prime minister’s post-meeting press conference is traditionally one of the most widely watched events on Beijing’s economic and policy calendar.

Since taking power in 2012, Xi Jinping has established a number of new central party committees to oversee ministries that report directly to him. Some even infringe on economic and financial policies traditionally seen as falling within the purview of the prime minister.

China unveiled a sweeping government reorganization plan last year, creating a new party organization to oversee some ministries. Subsequently, the State Council also revised the working rules to clarify that administrative decision-making power belongs to the party.



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By Ali Raza

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