The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (), known as the Central Executive Committee until 1927, is the highest authority within the Communist Party of China. Its approximately 350 members and alternates are selected once every five years by the CPC National Congress. The membership of the Central Committee experiences rapid turnover. Over the past 30 years, an average of 62% of the membership of the outgoing Central Committee has been replaced at each party congress. The current Central Committee has 204 members and 167 alternates and will be replaced at the 18th National Party Congress.
The Central Committee appoints many of the most powerful people in China, including the General Secretary and the members of the Politburo, Standing Committee, and Central Military Commission.
The Secretariat of the Central Committee is the working body of the Politburo and its Standing Committee. Members of the Secretariat are nominated by the Standing Committee and are subject to endorsement by the Central Committee. They include the Central Propaganda Department, the Central Organization Department, the Central International Liaison Department, and the United Front Work Department, among others.
Function and Structure
While the Central Committee does not exercise authority as a corporate body in the same way that a legislature would, it is an important body in that it contains the leading figures of the party, state, and army. In contrast to Party Congresses, which have always been ceremonial, full meetings of the Central Committee have been on occasion arenas in which there are real debates and decisions on party policy. An example of this was the Third Plenary Session of the 11th CPC Central Committee in 1978, at which China formally embarked on a project of Chinese economic reform. The Central Committee is larger and has a somewhat more diverse ideological spectrum than the Politburo.
Some analysts have suggested that as part of his effort to increase intra-party democracy that Hu Jintao intends to increase the power held by the Central Committee. Two significant acts taken by Hu have been the cancellation of the traditional August leadership conference at Beidaihe, and the comparative large amount of public coverage given to the plenary Central Committee meeting in October 2003.
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