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Political Geography of China
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Since December 1949 after a ferocious civil war between the ruling Nationalists and the rebellious Communists China has been ruled by two governments . Mao Zedong, who led victorious Communists, proclaimed the People's Republic of China on the mainland of the country with the capital in Beijing. The Nationalist Chinese (Kuomintang) and the mastermind General Chiang Kai-shek fled to the island of Taiwan, where a "provisional" capitol in the city of Taipei was established (Wangzhou 2010). Although the Taipei regime was claimed to be the legitimate government of the whole China, including the mainland, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remained in full control of the country. Since the inception of the PRC in 1949, the single party state was controlled by the Chinese Communist party (CCP). However, there were eight registered small parties under the direct control of the CCP. Existing as amorphous factions or coalitions, other clusters of pressure or political groups were affiliated to the Chinese Communist Party that resulted in their formation and further dispersion due to the various contemporary issues affecting the country.
Three branches of the government in China are subordinate to the ruling party that is superior to any other body. The government branches’ main mandate is to apply the policies of the party, ruled by the powerful leaders. The main instruments of the state power include the state council which is an executive body and the National people’s Congress (NPC), a unicameral legislative body. The three branches of the PRC government are executive, legislative and judicial (Wang 2010). The Executive Branch consists of the President and the Vice President, members of the State Council, the Premier and Vice Premiers, state councilors, the heads of various ministries and the heads of other commissions and agencies attached to the State Council. The President and his Vice are elected directly by the National People's Congress (NPC) while the members of the State Council are appointed by the National People's Congress. The Chinese executive Premier and all the six Vice Premiers are appointed Heads of Government by the President and are approved by the National People's Congress while other components of the executive branch are appointed by the NPC (Wangzhou 2010).
The members of the Legislative branch are elected by secret ballot by provincial-level people's congresses for a five-year term. Their mandate is to review and discuss both the major and new policy issues presented by the State Council after they are endorsed by the Communist Party’s Central Committee. Legislative members meet yearly for about two weeks to discuss matters pertaining to the policies.
Judicial functions is performed by the ruling party or the Government thus, being dependent. However, in 1979 the PRC began to establish a functionallegal system with new legal codes which took effect on January 1, 1980. This step has brought changes in the legal system especially the way criminal cases are handled. The legal system also takes into consideration the customs and statutes. The rule of law was emphasized in 1982 when the Constitution adopted by the NPC stressed accountability within the ranks of civil leadership (Joseph, 2010). This brings incidences of corruption to a complete halt. The 1982 Constitution also addressed fundamental human rights such as freedom of association, religion, speech, and that of the press. However, these freedoms only exist on the paper, being not implemented as they are frequently ignored, especially in the cases of citizen trying to challenge the government. Another setback in the Judicial branch is the shortage of trained lawyers and legal aides. Due to this, the legal system is supported by the mediation committees and groups of citizens. Most cases, especially civil disputes, are solved by citizens themselves at the local level. This complicates the delivery of legal services in the courts and at the local level for people do not get the justice required by the law. Nonetheless, political crimes are given priority in the courts of law, being treated harshly.
The territory of China contains the administrative divisions with the organs to facilitate the implementation of the local administration. “The country is divided into provinces, autonomous regions and smaller municipalities all under the Central Government,” (Wangzhou 2010, p. 267). The wider provinces and autonomous regions are in turn sub-divided into relatively smaller sovereign cities, counties, prefectures and cities. Both administrative categories of counties and autonomous counties are further divided into townships, ethnic townships and towns. The Central Government may also set up special administrative regions.
The governance of all the administrative divisions namely provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions fall under the Central Government. Provincial Governments are first-level local state administrative organs in China. There are 23 provinces in the country and although provincial administrative organs have the power to make their own decisions, the State cCouncil is mandated to cancel any decision they deem improper. “Provincial governments have the authority to exercise unified leadership over the work of governments at the levels of the counties, cities, towns and townships under their jurisdiction and to exercise unified administration over cultural, social and economic affairs” (Wang 2010, p. 57).
County governmentsare known to represent central governments in rural areas and are categorized as follows: areas without administrative offices, county governments receive direct leadership from provincial or autonomous regional governments; areas without administrative offices, and in the four municipalities directly under the Central Government, for instance, the leadership of Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai and Chongqing, county governments rely on provincial, autonomous regional or municipal governments for directives. Areas implementing the system of prefectural-level cities, administering counties and county-level cities and in ethnic self-governing areas, county governments get leadership from prefectural-level city or autonomous prefectural governments.
Domestic policy refers to decisions, laws, and programs made by the Government which are directly related to the issues inside the United States of America (U.S.). At times, the domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. and China influence each other (Yong Deng 2010). In Government domestic policy is the counterpart of the foreign policy which consists of all government programs, policies and actions that principally deal with internal affairs contrary to its relations with other states. Chinese domestic policy revolves around welfare programs, social security, tax policy, regulations on businesses and their operations and environmental laws. Examples of domestic policy issues include: Poverty Eradication, Immigration, Health Care, Education, Economy, Crime and Drugs, Constitutional Rights and National Budget.
The 1982 Constitution of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China guarantees freedom of the press, speech, of association, assembly and of demonstration in Article 35. In article 37, the Constitution states that freedoms of the citizens are inviolable and prohibits any form of deprivation of citizen’s freedom (Yong Deng 2010). However, the Communist Party is supreme and dictates the the rules for the working class. Although Constitution specifies citizen’s rights and freedom, in Chinese culture the meaning of the term ‘right’ does not exist, in most cases meaningpower. The Government’s understanding of civil freedoms is associated withthe political instead of natural human rights. As China appears to be a communist country, the collective rights of its citizens appear to be more important than individual rights. The right to strike was dropped from 1982 Constitution and citizens also have the right to vote and to be elected.
China has an educational policy that all citizens must school for at least 9 years. The number of educated citizens has been on the increase for the past decade. In the year 2009, leaders of China drafted “National Outline for Medium and Long-term Education Reform and Development (2010-2020)” that proposes to raise the 2012 educational budgetary bars to 4% of GDP. There was also China’s education reform 2010 to 2012 that was meant to build foundation for a learning society by modernizing the education system. This is meant to produce more competitive work force to the world. This reform is undertaken from the kindergarten, which is compulsory, special education, high school, minority, continuing and higher education.
Various reform objectives are outlined at each educational level to guarantee universal access to pre-school education, consolidate and enhance the level of nine-year compulsory education, increase number of high school students, diversify high school education by offering variety of courses, establish modern vocational education system which can adapt to economic changes and restructuring demands, improve the standard of colleges and universities to international level, improve minority and disabled students education and encourage bilingual education. Laws that regulate the system of education include the Compulsory Education Law, Regulation on Academic Degrees, the Law on Higher Education, Vocational Education, the Education Law and the Teachers Law.