Premier of China

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Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
中华人民共和国国务院总理
National Emblem of the People's Republic of China
Flag of the People's Republic of China
Incumbent
Li Qiang
since 11 March 2023
State Council of the People's Republic of China
StyleHis Excellency (阁下)
(diplomatic)
TypeHead of government
StatusNational leader level official
Member of
  • Plenary Meeting of the State Council
  • Executive Meeting of the State Council
Reports toNational People's Congress and its Standing Committee
ResidencePremier's Office, Zhongnanhai, Beijing
SeatBeijing
NominatorPresident
(chosen within the Chinese Communist Party)
AppointerNational People's Congress
Term lengthFive years, renewable once consecutively
Constituting instrumentConstitution of the People's Republic of China
PrecursorPremier of the Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government
Inaugural holderYikuang (Qing dynasty)
Zhou Enlai (current form)
Formation8 May 1911 (1911-05-08) (Premier of the Imperial Cabinet)
12 March 1912 (1912-03-12) (Republican era)
1 October 1949 (1949-10-01) (Premier of the Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government)
27 September 1954 (1954-09-27) (Premier of the State Council)
Unofficial namesPrime Minister
DeputyVice Premier
State councillor
SalaryCN¥150,000 per annum est. (2015)
Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China
Simplified Chinese中华人民共和国国务院总理
Traditional Chinese中華人民共和國國務院總理
Alternative Chinese name
Simplified Chinese国务院总理
Traditional Chinese國務院總理

The premier of China, officially titled the premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, is the head of government of China and leader of the State Council. This post was established in 1911 near the end of the Qing dynasty, but the current post dates to 1954, five years after the establishment of the PRC. The premier is the second-highest ranking person in China's political system, under the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (paramount leader)/president (state representative), and holds the highest rank in the civil service of the central government.

The premier presides over the plenary and executive meetings of the State Council, and assumes overall leadership over the State Council's work. The premier also signs administrative regulations passed by the State Council and signs the orders approving the appointment and removal of deputy-ministerial level officials of the State Council, as well as chief executives of Hong Kong and Macau. The premier is assisted by four vice premiers and state councillors in their duties. In China's political system, the premier has generally thought to be the one responsible for managing the economy.

The premier is constitutionally elected by the National People's Congress (NPC), and responsible to it and its Standing Committee. The premier serves for a five-year term, renewable once consecutively. Every premier has been a member of the CCP Politburo Standing Committee since the PRC's founding in 1949, except during brief transition periods. The incumbent premier is Li Qiang, who took office on 11 March 2023, succeeding Li Keqiang.

History

Yikuang, the first prime minister in Chinese history.

In the early 1900s, the Qing dynasty government began implementing constitutional reform in China in order to prevent a revolution. The reforms included the Outline of the Imperial Constitution passed in 1908, which ordered that elections for provincial assemblies must be held within a year. In May 1911, the government replaced the Grand Council with a thirteen-member cabinet, led by Prince Qing, who was appointed Prime Minister of the Imperial Cabinet. However, the cabinet included nine Manchus, seven of whom were members of the imperial clan. This "Princes' Cabinet" was unpopular among the people and was viewed as a reactionary measure, being described at one point as "the old Grand Council under the name of a cabinet, autocracy under the name of constitutionalism."

When the Wuchang Uprising broke out in November 1911, the imperial court summoned the general Yuan Shikai to command the Beiyang Army and put down the revolution. He was named Prime Minister on 2 November 1911, shortly after Prince Qing stepped down. He remained in that office until March 1912, when he negotiated with Empress Dowager Longyu the abdication of the Xuantong Emperor. However, the post was briefly revived in July 1917 during Zhang Xun's attempt to restore the Qing monarchy, but he only held it for several days before Beijing was retaken by Republican forces.

Following the collapse of the Qing, the premier of the Republic of China was created as Premier of the Cabinet (內閣總理) in 1912. It was changed to the Secretary of State (國務卿) in 1914 and Premier of State Council (國務總理) in 1916 in the Beiyang Government. In 1928, the Kuomintang (KMT) Government established the Executive Yuan and Tan Yankai served as the first president of the Executive Yuan. It was formalized in 1947 after the Constitution of the Republic of China was passed. The post was abolished in Mainland China, but continued on Taiwan since 1949.

The PRC post was initially established by Organic Law of the Central People's Government, passed by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in 29 September 1949, as the premier of the Government Administration Council of the Central People's Government. Zhou Enlai was appointed as premier immediately after the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in 1 October 1949. With the adoption of a constitution in 1954, the post was renamed into the premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.

Since the 1980s, there has been a division of responsibilities between the premier and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) general secretary wherein the premier is responsible for the economy and the technical details of implementing government policy while the general secretary gathers the political support necessary for government policy. However, this was seen to be overturned under the leadership of CCP general secretary Xi Jinping, who has centralized power around himself, and taken responsibility over areas that were traditionally the domain of the premier, including the economy.

The premier was historically chosen within the CCP through deliberations by incumbent Politburo members and retired CCP Politburo members as part of the process of determining membership in the incoming new CCP Politburo Standing Committee. Under this informal process, the eventual future premier is initially chosen as a vice premier before assuming the position of premier during a subsequent round of leadership transitions. This changed under Xi, with his ally and current premier Li Qiang never having served as vice premier.

Selection

Officially, the premier is appointed by the National People's Congress (NPC) upon the nomination of the president. The NPC also has the power to remove the premier and other state officers from office. Elections and removals are decided by majority vote. In practice, the premier is chosen within the CCP leadership, including the Politburo Standing Committee.

The length of the premier's term of office is the same as the NPC, which is 5 years, and the premier is restricted to two consecutive terms. Immediately after the election, the president signs the presidential order formalizing the premier's appointment. Since 2018, the premier is required to recite the constitutional oath of office before assuming office.

Powers and duties

The premier is the highest administrative position in the Government of China. The premier heads the State Council and is responsible for organizing and administering the Chinese civil bureaucracy. For example, the premier is tasked with planning and implementing national economic and social development and the state budget. The premier has always been a member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Chinese Communist Party.

The premier's duties includes overseeing the various ministries, departments, commissions and statutory agencies. The premier can also propose the establishment, merger or dissolution of ministries, which would then be decided upon by the NPC or its Standing Committee. The premier officially nominated the candidates for vice premiers, state councillors, ministerial offices and the secretary-general of the State Council for appointment by the NPC. The vice premiers assist the premier in their duties. The first-ranked vice premier acts in the premier's capacity in their absence.

The premier chairs the plenary and executive meetings of the State Council. The executive meetings include the premier, vice premiers, state councillors and the secretary-general of the State Council, and are held two or three times a month, and can be held in any time if necessary. The State Council has the authority to issue proposals to the NPC and its Standing Committee, which must be approved by the premier. It can also draft or abolish administrative regulations, which are then signed into order and promulgated by the premier. The premier also signs the order approving the appointments or removals of State Council officials at the deputy-ministerial level, as well as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong and the Chief Executive of Macau.

The premier does not have command authority over the armed forces, but is generally the head of the National Defense Mobilization Commission which is a department of the armed forces. The State Council has the authority to impose martial law in subdivisions below the provincial-level administrative divisions, which the premier then proclaims in an order; premier Li Peng once used the authority to impose martial law in parts of Beijing and to order the military crackdown of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

See also

References

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Further reading