Party leads, congress follows, declares Li
NPC Chairman Li Peng has subsumed the parliament under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.
This is despite recent petitions by liberal deputies to the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference that the NPC must reassert its constitutional right as the nation's 'organ of supreme power'.
In his address at the Great Hall of the People yesterday, Mr Li said: 'The Communist Party is at the helm of the state . . . It holds the power to lead and support the people in administering the country.' Mr Li, a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee, called on deputies to 'support the party's leadership over the work of the people's congress'.
'All items of legislation and supervisory work undertaken by the NPC completely and thoroughly follow the line and policies of the party,' he added.
A CPPCC member said that Mr Li's 'party first' precept went against the belief of his predecessor, Qiao Shi.
While also a Politburo member, Mr Qiao had fought for more autonomous powers for the legislature, including the power to oversee the armed forces.
The CPPCC member said Mr Qiao wanted the NPC to supervise both the party and the Government, while Mr Li would only urge that the legislature boost its supervisory powers over government and judicial units.
A political source in Beijing said particularly since Mr Qiao's retirement from the Congress in 1998, the party leadership had asserted its control over the legislature.
This is most evident at the level of provinces or major cities, where more and more provincial or municipal party chiefs double as heads of the local legislatures.
Out of the 31 provinces and directly administered cities, 11 party secretaries also have concurrent appointments as heads of provincial or municipal people's congresses.
The source said under reforms carried out by late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and the ousted party chief Zhao Ziyang in the 1980s, the phenomenon of 'cross leadership' was almost abolished.
After Jiang Zemin took over as party chief in 1989, however, he has worked to boost the party's power over the legislature.
The party cell in the NPC has also been given more powers over legislators who are Communist Party members.