A total of 2,296 delegates elected from the grassroots by millions of Party members across China will attend the Communist Party of China’s 20th National Congress, which is scheduled to open in Beijing on Sunday.
The spectrum of delegates is carefully designed to ensure a diversity of candidates. They come from different regions and demographic groups, including both genders and all ethnic minorities.
Grassroots Party members account for a significant proportion of the delegates, and those working in the frontline should have at least one third of the seats. Farmers, technicians and workers are priorities.
The whole election process includes five stages.
First, Party members nominate candidates. Second, all the nominees will be reviewed carefully. Those who pass the review will enter the third stage and have their names publicly available for feedback.
The fourth stage includes discussion and the formation of candidate shortlists. Lastly, each electoral unit votes for the final delegates.
The elected delegates to the National Congress will write an evaluation of the Party’s work over the past five years. They will also introduce potential revisions to the Party Constitution. Finally, they will elect a new leadership team for the next five years.
The CPC forms the core of China’s leadership. The CPC’s constitution defines it as the vanguard of the Chinese working class, the people, and the nation. It says the leadership of the CPC is the most essential feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics. One constant in the constitution is the CPC’s commitment to its ultimate goal of realizing the communist ideology, seeking the happiness of the Chinese people, and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
When it was founded in July 1921, there were only 58 Party members. Today, its membership exceeds 96 million.
At the grass-roots level, there are more than 90 million Party members, who make up the CPC Party committees in China’s urban communities, villages, social institutions, state-owned firms, as well as in many private, local and foreign companies operating on Chinese soil.
Across cities, provinces and autonomous regions, there are CPC Party congresses that discuss local matters.
Higher up, over 2,000 representatives are elected to the CPC’s National Congress. The CPC Constitution stipulates that its National Congress is to be held every five years.
When the CPC National Congress is not in session, the CPC Central Committee is tasked to make decisions. The CPC Central Committee has around 200 full members and less than 200 alternate members. They are reshuffled every five years during the CPC National Congress.
Among the members of the CPC Central Committee, over 20 of them will form the Political Bureau, which gathers regularly to vote on important matters. Their decisions are based on one person, one vote. Once a majority is reached, they speak with a unified voice. This is based upon the Leninist idea of “Democratic Centralism”.
From the Political Bureau, several members are elected at the first plenary session of the newly formed CPC Central Committee to form the Political Bureau Standing Committee. Throughout the CPC’s history, the number of members in this top group, which reports to the Political Bureau, has varied from 5 to 11 people. The Political Bureau Standing Committee at present has seven members.
The CPC General Secretary convenes the meetings of the Political Bureau and Political Bureau Standing Committee. Since November 2012, Xi Jinping has served as the CPC General Secretary. He is also the president of China, having been elected by the National People’s Congress.