PoliticsMain article: Politics of the People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China, along with Vietnam, Laos, and Cuba, is one of the world's four remaining official socialist states espousing communism. However, in practice, China's political structure cannot be characterized so simply. The Chinese government has been variously described as communist and socialist, but also as authoritarian, with heavy restrictions remaining in many areas, most notably on the Internet, the press, freedom of assembly, reproductive rights, and freedom of religion. Its current political/economic system has been termed by its leaders as "socialism with Chinese characteristics".
The country is ruled by the Communist Party of China (CPC), whose power is enshrined in China's constitution. The Chinese electoral system is hierarchical, whereby local People's Congresses are directly elected, and all higher levels of People's Congresses up to the National People's Congress (NPC) are indirectly elected by the People's Congress of the level immediately below. The political system is partly decentralized, with limited democratic processes internal to the party and at local village levels, although these experiments have been marred by corruption. There are other political parties in China, referred to in China as democratic parties, which participate in the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Compared to its closed-door policies until the mid-1970s, the liberalization of China has resulted in the administrative climate being less restrictive than before. China nominally supports the Leninist principle of "democratic centralism", but Chinese politics are far different from the liberal democracy or social democracy espoused in most European and North American countries, and the National People's Congress has been described as a "rubber stamp" body. China's incumbent President is Hu Jintao, and its Premier is Wen Jiabao, who is also a senior member of the CPC Politburo Standing Committee. The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China is currently Xi Jinping, who is widely expected to become China's President in 2013.
There have been some moves toward political liberalization, in that open contested elections are now held at the village and town levels, and that legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time. However, the Party retains effective control over government appointments: in the absence of meaningful opposition, the CPC wins by default most of the time. Political concerns in China include lessening the growing gap between rich and poor and fighting corruption within the government leadership.
The level of public support for the government and its management of the nation is among the highest in the world, with 86% of Chinese citizens expressing satisfaction with their nation's economy according to a 2008 Pew Research Center survey.
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