The Fourth Session of the 12th National People's Congress (NPC) is scheduled to open in Beijing on March 5.[Special coverage]
In China's political system, the NPC is an arrangement enabling Chinese citizens to exercise their power as "the master of State". They are represented by NPC deputies elected through a carefully designed democratic procedure.
The first NPC was convened in 1954, marking the establishment of the people's congress system in China.
According to the Constitution, the NPC exercises the following functions and powers:
-- to amend the Constitution;
-- to supervise the enforcement of the Constitution;
-- to enact and amend basic laws governing criminal offenses, civil affairs, State organs and other matters;
-- to elect the president and vice president of China;
-- to decide on the choice of the premier of the State Council upon nomination by the president and on the choice of vice premiers, state councilors, ministers in charge of ministries or commissions, the auditor-general and the secretary-general of the State Council upon nomination by the premier;
-- to elect the chairman of the Central Military Commission, and to decide on all other members of the Central Military Commission upon nomination by the chairman;
-- to elect the president of the Supreme People's Court;
-- to elect the procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate;
-- to examine and approve the national economic and social development plan and the report on its implementation;
-- to examine and approve the State budget and the report on its implementation;
-- to alter or annul inappropriate decisions made by the NPC Standing Committee;
-- to approve the establishment of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the central government;
-- to decide on the establishment of special administrative regions and the systems to be instituted there;
-- to make decisions on questions of war and peace;
-- to exercise other functions and powers the highest organ of State power should exercise.
The NPC Standing Committee, the permanent organ of the NPC, is elected by the NPC and exercises State legislative power together with the NPC.
The NPC is elected for a term of five years. It normally meets at an annual session and is convened by its Standing Committee.
An NPC session may also be convened at any time the Standing Committee deems it necessary or when more than one-fifth of the NPC deputies so propose.