People’s Parliament, where there’s no State pay for MPs

UDA is planning a visit to Beijing to learn about the Communist Party

In Summary

• Anyone with grassroots support can secure a seat in the Chinese Parliament 

• While other legislators raise their salaries, in China only congress allowance is given

Deputies to the 14th National People's Congress leave the Great Hall of the People after the closing meeting of the second session of the 14th NPC in Beijing, China, on March 11
Deputies to the 14th National People's Congress leave the Great Hall of the People after the closing meeting of the second session of the 14th NPC in Beijing, China, on March 11

Zou Bin was only 23 years old when he first set foot at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square for his inauguration as a deputy to the National People’s Congress.

The Hunan Provincial People’s Congress had just elected him to represent them at the 13th NPC for a five-year term.

For a bricklayer, this was an entirely new and tense environment, but the “power of the people” who endorsed him for the seat kept him going.

In his early life, Zou spent a lot of time in a village in Xinhua county, learning the ropes from among his family of construction workers.

His life took a sweet turn after he won a skills competition organised by a company he was working for, which saw him tour the world.

With it, he became a hero in his backyard and would be invited to seminars to share his skills and stories with his colleagues and other people.

From the forums, he endeared himself to the locals, who felt it fit that he represent them at the ‘highest organ of state power’ in China.

He is now serving a second term, which is slated to run until 2028.


While at it, Zou doesn’t draw any monthly salary from the State for the task of representing his colleagues in the construction workers’ fraternity.

Deputies like him only get paid a daily subsistence allowance, a flight ticket and accommodation when they travel to Beijing for 10 days for the traditional ‘two sessions’.

Like Zou, most of the about 2,977 members of the NPC depend on their regular jobs, skilled or unskilled, to meet living expenses.

The profiles of current members reveal people coming from different walks of life, including activists, veterinary experts and ICT gurus.

Li Feng, for instance, works as a purchasing manager at a company in Shanghai, and after he is done, he gets to listen to what his people want the government to do.

Similar efforts are told of Ma Huijuan, who rose from an activist from a mountain village to represent her folks at the NPC.

Wang Yongcheng has equally been making the voice of the visually impaired heard at the NPC. He is the president of an association of persons with visual disabilities.

The common denominator in the experiences shared by the members of the August House is ‘the people’.

Any person can scale the ranks and secure a seat in the Chinese parliament as long as he or she has the backing of the people at the grassroots,  known as people's congresses.

For years, and now with President Xi Jinping's administration, the people have taken a central role in governance through grassroots consultation activities.

The mantra of ‘whole-process people’s democracy’ developed by President Xi has seen such persons from all walks of life, including masons, farmers and taxi/truck drivers, ascend to the highest organ of state power.

Some people’s congresses nominate business magnates, oligarchs and top-ranking corporation chief executives.

“Deputies come from diversified districts, sectors and ethnic groups of the nation. People from the grassroots take a great share of all-level NPC deputies,” an NPC spokesperson said.

The deputies elect the President, Vice-President, the chairperson [of NPC], vice chairpersons, secretary general and members of the Standing Committee, as well as the director of the National Supervisory Commission.

Deputies to the NPC also approve the central government’s budget and ratify plans for economic and social development.

These are among the long-held practices that elucidate the unique part of the Chinese Parliament.

The closing meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 11, 2024. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)
The closing meeting of the second session of the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 11, 2024. (Xinhua/Wang Ye)


Members of Kenya’s ruling party United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are planning a visit to Beijing to learn about the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Valuable lessons await the delegation in the tour, which is part of activities to highlight Kenya’s 60-year bilateral ties with China.

Details of the exact date of the tour are yet to be made public, but talks are already underway on the cooperation concept.

UDA secretary general Cleophas Malala said the tour — including a meeting with Zhao Leji, the chairman of the NPC, and members of the House — is aimed at helping elected leaders and secretariat officials learn new ideas.

The idea was firmed up in a meeting between UDA and CPC executive deputy Jiang Xinzhi at the party’s offices on March 15.

Chinese MPs are elected through people’s congresses from 35 electoral units, which are formed from the lowest level at the county to the provincial level.

“The system of people’s congress is a new element the Chinese people have added to the world’s political structure,” said Lin Jianhua, an author.

The units include people's congresses of provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities directly under the central government, the People's Liberation Army, Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR and the Taiwan compatriots' Consultation Election Council.

“Under China’s institutional framework for whole-process people’s democracy, the whole people, including peasants, middle school students and couriers, can have their voices heard and translated into the Constitution, laws and national policies,” Lin added.


Every year, the 2,977 members of the NPC troop to Beijing for the cardinal task of representing the people, failing which they can be kicked out.

After returning from Beijing, a number of the representatives usually return to the people “to convey the spirit of the two sessions”.

At the same time, China’s top political advisory body, the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, holds parallel sittings.

CPC is the ruling party, while the other parties provide political consultancy, including ideas on how to make laws. The consultants don’t represent regions.

At the sittings, globally acclaimed as the ‘two sessions’ [liangui in Chinese], usually once a year around February or March, the deputies present suggestions of the people.

A special sitting can also be called when supported by a fifth of the deputies, about 596.

“NPC deputies are subject to supervision by their electoral units, which also have the right to recall any deputies they have elected,” the Organic Law of the NPC says.

The consultants also present their alternative views to proposals by the government, which usually releases a report on the previous year's work and the future forecast.

In the recent session in February, Premier of the State Council Li Qiang reported that China’s GDP surpassed 126 trillion yuan, an increase of 5.2 per cent.

He also announced that 12.44 million urban jobs were added, and the average surveyed urban unemployment rate stood at 5.2 per cent.

Premier Li also gave updates on progress made in the industrial systems, tech innovation, environmental conservation and ensuring the people’s well-being.

After each election, the NPC deputies elect from among themselves a 175-member Standing Committee.

The latter is hailed as the de facto legislature during the 350 days when the NPC is not in session.

According to the NPC website, the committee enacts a majority of the national laws and routinely oversights the other government bodies.

It can also appoint and remove top officials of central state institutions, grant special amnesties and confer state honours.

A council of chairpersons, vice chairpersons and secretary general of the committees determines when the standing committee meets.

Other special committees are for ethnic affairs, law, internal and judicial affairs, financial, education, foreign affairs, overseas affairs, environment, agriculture and rural affairs.

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