Q: What are the two sessions?
A: This term refers to the plenary sessions of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The two are held in early March every year.
Those formal but wordy titles are difficult to remember, even for Chinese speakers, therefore, the Chinese moniker "two sessions" was coined.
Q: What happens at these sessions?
A: The central government will reveal its annual work report, which includes the official gross domestic product (GDP) forecast as well as information on the defense budget and other major policies.
Q: What are the NPC and the CPPCC?
A: The NPC is the highest organ of state power.
The CPPCC is China's top political advisory body. It also facilitates China's multiparty cooperation and political consultation mechanism, led by the CPC. The CPPCC was established in 1949, five years before the NPC.
Q: What is the relationship between NPC and the Communist Party of China (CPC)?
A: The NPC is a fundamental mechanism for promoting the CPC's leadership, the position of the people as masters of the country and the rule of law, all of which are integral to China's democracy model.
The effective implementation of the CPC's policies and decisions relies on the NPC system, according to president Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
Q: Is NPC just the top legislature?
A: It is much more than that. According to the Constitution, the NPC exercises more than a dozen functions and powers, including the supervision of the enforcement of the constitution. It also appoints and supervises the president, the chief justice and chief prosecutor of the country.
Q: Who attends the two sessions?
A: More than 5,000 NPC deputies and members of CPPCC National Committee attend the sessions. Among them, are top leaders, renowned economists, entrepreneurs, artists and sportsmen and representatives from all walks of life. NPC deputies can submit motions, which are legally binding once adopted, while members of the CPPCC National Committee can only put forward no-binding proposals. The 12th NPC, the members of which were elected in 2013, includes 699 female deputies, making up 23.4 percent of the total.
Q: How are NPC deputies elected?
A: Direct election applies in the selection of township and county-level deputies, while the deputies at the prefecture, provincial and national levels are elected by lower level deputies. Deputies are subject to supervision by the voters in their electoral districts or the units that elected them.
Q: What privileges do NPC deputies receive?
A: The constitution gives NPC deputies two sets of privileges:
- "Deputies to the NPC may not be held legally liable for their speeches or votes at its meetings".
- "No deputy to the NPC may be arrested or placed on criminal trial without the consent of the Presidium of the current session of the NPC or, when the NPC is not in session, without the consent of its Standing Committee."
This approval procedure is designed to protect deputies from interference in their duties, this does not translate to immunity of any kinds.
Q: Do deputies receive salaries?
A: No. Most deputies keep their jobs while serving at the people's congress, and receive no financial compensation for the service. In addition, the law prohibits deputies from seeking personal gain through their official capacities. But the law does specify that deputies with no fixed income shall be appropriately subsidized.