Comparison of China and United States governments

Comparison of China and United States governments

China is one of the countries with the longest history and the largest population in the world. The communist party is the dominating political party. Lead by President Hu Jin Tao , China has developed to be one of the world powers in economic, military and political stages. As one of the remaining communist controlled nations, China plays a significant role in international relations. The American government, in a lot of ways, differs from Chinese government.

Constitutional differences

Constitution of the PRC vs. U.S. Constitution

The currently used Constitution of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was adopted on December 4, 1982, and passed by the Fifth National People's Congress. The U.S. Constitution was adopted September 17, 1787, and then ratified in each state. The Constitution of the PRC contains approximately 14,000 words and the U.S. Constitution only contains 4543 words. The Constitution of the PRC is more detailed than the U.S. Constitution in language. The Constitution is the supreme law in both nations. The Constitution of the PRC contains four amendments which describes, or revises, the context of the original Constitution. For instance, the fourth paragraph of the Amendment Two reads, "At the end of the tenth paragraph of the Preamble, add 'The system of multi-party cooperation and political consultation led by the Communist Party of China will exist and develop in China for a long time to come'." [The Constitution of People's Republic of China. People's Daily Online, December 4, 1982,] The United States Bill of Right and the additional amendments of the U.S. Constitution was proved and presented as a part of the law.

Socialist system vs. capitalist system

The People's Republic of China was established on a socialist platform on October 1st, 1949. The Constitution of the PRC reads, "The People's Republic of China is a socialist state under the people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. The socialist system is the basic system of the People's Republic of China. Sabotage of the socialist system by any organization or individual is prohibited." [The Constitution of People's Republic of China. People's Daily Online, December 4, 1982,] On the other hand, the U.S. Constitution does not mention its own social system, but leaves freedom to the people. After World War I and World War II, the United States became the economic world leader.

Socialist public ownership vs. Private ownership

All the lands in China are state owned while the U.S. Constitution protects people's ownership of their lands. The Constitution of the PRC mentions, "Article 10. Land in the cities is owned by the state." [The Constitution of People's Republic of China. People's Daily Online, December 4, 1982,] In addition, the nation's resources are controlled by the central government and are reflected in the Constitution of the PRC, saying, "Article 9. Mineral resources, waters, forests, mountains, grassland, unreclaimed land, beaches and other natural resources are owned by the state." [The Constitution of People's Republic of China. People's Daily Online, December 4, 1982,] All people in the PRC are considered the owners of the nation's property. Great industries, such as communication, transportation or electric power supply, are controlled and run by the central government. The U.S. government, on the other hand, encourages efficient privatization of industries. The capitalism system allows private business to contribute to national industries.


The governments of China and the United States possess different structures due to the distinct situations and regimes of the two countries. In the United States, the powers of the government are clearly distributed among its three branches of government: the president exercises his executive power, the United States Congress exercises its legislature power and the Supreme Court of the United States exercises its judicial power. Each branch remains a check to the other two branches. No one branch possesses superior power over the other two. On the other hand, in China, the legislature, executive and the judicial powers overlap within the People's Congress, the State Council and the president. Moreover, the People's Congress is said to have the superior power in the government and remain a check to the other two branches of the government.

Legislative power

In the United States, all the lawmaking powers of the federal government are reserved to Congress. Although the president always has the power to issue executive orders, and the executive agencies are able to pass administrative rules, based on the Constitution of the United States, Congress is said to have the sole legislative power within the federal government. The reason for not granting the legislative power to the president is the framers' fear of monarchy.

In China, on the other hand, the National People's Congress and the State Council of the P.R.C share the power of making laws. The National People's Congress has the highest state power, and its permanent body is the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. There are roughly three thousand members in the National People's Congress. The National People's Congress is represented by provinces, municipalities, armies, Macao and Hong Kong special administrative region, and Taiwan Province. The numbers of members in the National People's Congress are proportional to the population in the regions. The Chinese government is represented by the wish of the whole body of Chinese people, and the populous National People's Congress, therefore, has the superior power of the state. However, because of the inconvenience of gathering several thousand members frequently, the Standing Committee exercises most of the powers of the National People's Congress. The National People's Congress has some reserved powers, such as choosing the president and the vice president of the People's Republic of China.

Moreover, China's large population makes it necessary to create the State Council to be the "executive body of the highest organ of state power and the highest organ of state administration." [The P.R.C. Constitution, A Professional Translation Website, 24th Feb 2006,] The State Council is given the power to pass administrative laws and to submit proposals to the National People's Congress.

Executive power

In the United States, the president is the Chief Executive, Commander in Chief, Chief of State, Chief Diplomat and Chief Legislator. The president of the United States is one of the most powerful individuals in the world. The president is responsible for enforcing the laws to exercise his executive power. Especially during a time of national crisis, no member of the other two branches of government could show the personal strength of the president. In China, the executive powers of the government are shared by the president and the State Council. Therefore, the one-man power of the president of the PRC is much weaker than that possessed by the president of the United States. China has gone through two thousand years of feudal society, and that is one of the reasons for not granting extreme executive power to the president.

The State Council of the People's Republic of China is led by the Prime Minister. The State Council has the superior powers in administration and giving direction to the lower divisions, including but not limiting the power "to draw up and implement the plan for national economic and social development and the state budget, to direct and administer economic affairs and urban and rural development, to direct and administer the affairs of education, science, culture, public health, physical culture and family planning, to direct and administer civil affairs, public security, judicial administration, supervision and other related matters." [The P.R.C. Constitution. A Professional Translation Website, 24th Feb 2006,]

Judicial power

In the United States, the Supreme Court has the sole power to interpret the Constitution and decide the constitutionality of the laws passed by other branches of the federal government and the actions of the president. The ruling of the Supreme Court becomes law. The other two branches of the government exercise their powers under the check of the "judicial review" of the Supreme Court.

The court system is distinct in China. China has a civil law system. "In a civil law system, the primary source of law is a statutory code, and case precedents are not judicially binding, as they normally are in a common law system", [Sidlow Edward, Henschen Beth. American at Odds.] which is used in the United States. The Supreme People's Court of the People's Republic of China is much less powerful than the Supreme Court of the United States, simply because the Court in China is only able to decide cases based on the laws passed by the legislative branch without having the power to overturn any statutory code. Moreover, in China, the power of "judicial review" is given to the National People's Congress instead of the Supreme Court. The National People's Congress has the power to interpret the Constitution and to supervise the work of the State Council, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Political behavior differences

Communist Party vs. two-party system

The Communist Party is the dominating political party in China. Most governors are members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Joining the CCP is considered an honor and is frequently used to identify a person's political background. The CCP is the only party that runs the government. Therefore, a CCP member may enjoy more benefits in job selections and salaries. The United States has a two-party system. The two major parties are the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Every four years, the two parties, including third-party, compete for presidential elections. The election of 2008 is in progress with Democratic candidate Barack Obama and Republican candidate John McCain running the floor. The two-party system allows changes and competitions in the government.

Centralized power vs. federalism

China's political power is centralized in Beijing, the capital of the PRC. The National People's Congress is the most powerful institution in China directed by the communist party. There are 23 provinces, or states, in China. Individual provinces shall follow the orders of the central government.
Federalism is one of the fundamental political platforms of U.S. government. The national power is shared by states and the federal government. Although the power of the national government is increasing, each state remains its own police power. Federalism is a unique political system in the world.

Weak vs. strong interest groups

Political power of China is dominated by the communist party. There are rarely members who belong to a different party holding a high position in government. Joining the Communist Party is a required step for a person seeking political success. There is no other party that can compete with the CCP. Therefore, interest groups are only focusing on persuading the Communist Party to change political decisions.

Although there are fifty-six ethnicities in China, above ninety percent of the population belongs to "Han." Every ethnicity enjoys equal protection under the Constitution of the PRC. However, the voices of smaller interest groups are weak because of the proportion of their population.

In contrast, the United States has a two-party system. Interest groups play a significant role in supporting party candidates, lobbying members of Congress or educating the public. The interest group is a party of the iron triangle in U.S. government. Strong interest groups contribute to the nation's democracy and help the government address people's will.

Civil liberties and rights differences

Civil liberties and rights under the Law

Civil liberties and rights in the U.S. are protected by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. People enjoy the freedom of speech, religion or peaceful assembly. The U.S. government protects citizens' rights via law enforcement. For example, the right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment in the Constitution. Chinese citizens are prohibited from having guns. Violation of owning weapons may lead to criminal punishment. Civil liberties and rights in China are usually a controversial topic on the international stage. China has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, the working conditions, labors' rights and public welfare remain at a low level.

The organs of self-government of national autonomous areas

The organs of self-government of national autonomous areas are unique portions of the national policy in China. China is a large country with 56 different ethnicities. National autonomous areas, such as Tibet, are created to allow each ethnicity to practice their own culture or religious beliefs. Although each national autonomous area has the right to exercise its own political power, limits are imposed by the central government. For example, political institutions, such as the people's congress or the people's court, are installed in every autonomous area.

Improvement of China's civil liberties and rights

Civil liberties and rights have improved significantly in China during recent years. The government of China has become more open to the public. The freedom of speech, press and assembly are exercised more freely by citizens.

Domestic policy

China has opened up the free market for economic development; at the same time, the government keeps a significant control over the economy of the country. In contrast, under capitalism in the United States, characterized by "the separation of economy and state, 'anti-socialism', the government encourages free markets, free trade, relatively light taxation, and a minimum of government interference in commerce." [Baccala, Brent. Capitalism and Christianity. Freesoft. October, 2000, revised June, 2001]

Economic reform

High tech vs. work force

China stepped from its feudal society directly to socialism, because at that time, China did not possess the conditions to have an industrial revolution. However, the leaders of China soon recognized the importance of economic reform in order to accelerate the economic growth of the country. Policies such as the "open door" [Suettinger, Robert L. New Politics, Old Problems. Beyond Tiananmen-the Politics of U.S.-China Relations, 2004. ] policy has made China now become one of the fastest-growing countries in the world. The Chinese government sets out unique principals to accelerate economic reform. The government encourages private properties that are important in a socialist economy and recognizes that market force should be the major force that leads the economic development in a healthy direction. Moreover, the government believes that "material incentives, including higher wages, personal profit, and the accumulation of wealth, should be the main way to boost productivity and efficiency." [Hauss, Charles. The Crisis of Communism. Comparative Politics-Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, Sixth Edition.]

Because of the high speed of economic growth, the Chinese government now faces the challenge of keeping the growth in a healthy direction. The government now "encourages continued direct investment in technology, promotes the reform of an unprofitable state sector, and continues to draw foreign investment into China". [Author Unknown. China Domestic Policy. World Leaders 2003. Encyclopedia.]

China has an abundant, cheap labor force to provide for its industries; however it lacks high technologies to support the country's industries. Therefore, China is now working hard to develop its highly technical industries and has many policies to encourage able people who are able to manipulate high-tech. On the other hand, the United States is looking for more cheap work forces.

Privatization vs. state-owned

The U.S. government has much less involvement in its economy than the Chinese government does. China has many more state-owned companies than the United States does. Because privatization is able to make the economy more dynamic and fast-growing, China faces the problem of restructuring state enterprise operations, which have become a severe budgetary burden. "In the late 1990s and early years of the twenty-first century, the Chinese government began a major privatization campaign." [Hauss, Charles. The Crisis of Communism. Comparative Politics-Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, Sixth Edition.] The bureaucracy of the United States also faces reform of privatization to become an active part in the market competition.

Environmental reform

China and the United States face different situations. Although both countries have plenty of natural resources, China has a much larger population. China needs to satisfy its 1.3 billion people with its limited resources. Therefore, China faces many serious environmental problems. In order to alleviate the environmental problems, the Chinese government has been working hard towards a series of environmental reforms.

Agricultural reform

China has a large population of farmers. The poverty of farmers in the country causes many concerns to the government. The government has issued many policies to alleviate the burden of farmers and introduced new technologies to agriculture. The government has spent a large amount of money in bringing up the economy in the poor sectors of the country. In the United States, agriculture is a much less significant factor in the development of the country. Moreover, the government gets less involved in agricultural reform. The powers are reserved for the individual states, except when the commerce involves the problems of more than two states.

Foreign policy

Chinese foreign policies have gone through critical changes that bring China more closely to the international stage. China has changed from isolation from all the capitalist powers to active involvement in worldwide affairs. The United States always remains an active role in the international affairs. The United States is always concerned and remains skeptical about the human rights, economic reforms, and environmental problems of China and other countries.

Olympics and human rights

China faces difficulties in hosting the 2008 Olympic Games. The issue associated with the Dalai Lama and Tibet has become serious and has caused many concern around the world. The Chinese government faces an accusation of not treating the Tibetans equally. China needs immediate full attention to deal with the problems in response to the questioning from the western world about the human rights in Tibet. The question about the sovereignty and independence of Tibet still remains in dispute. In a unitary system, such as that of China, "the central government has the power to grant, and to take away local autonomy". [Sidlow Edward, Henschen Beth. American at Odds.] The United States has a different situation compared to China. In the United States, the individual states have more reserved power because of the federalism of the nation.

Oil price

China is the second largest petroleum-consumer country; however, China lacks special laws to regulate the large amount of exploitation of petroleum. Therefore, it is hard for China to adjust to the unstable international oil price. "Less visible but potentially more important for China has been its reluctance to endorse United Nations involvement in Darfur, since it plans to develop and purchase much needed oil from Sudan." [Hauss, Charles. The Crisis of Communism. Comparative Politics-Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, Sixth Edition.] China is now struggling to find abundant resources to support its large oil demands.

Compared to China, although the United States has even greater oil demands than China does, the United States imports its petroleum from all over the world. The United States has much larger and stable sources to satisfy its enormous oil demands.


In recent years, China has carried out peaceful diplomatic policies. "China was a major participant in the six party talks that convinced the North Koreans to abandon their nuclear weapons and power program in 2007." [Hauss, Charles. The Crisis of Communism. Comparative Politics-Domestic Responses to Global Challenges, Sixth Edition.]


The different cultural and historical origins make the Chinese government and the U.S. government distinct in their constitutions, civil liberties and rights, political behavior, institutions, domestic policies and foreign policies.


External links

* [ A qualified vote: China2008]
* [ China Domestic Policy. World Leaders 2003. Encyclopedia]
* [ Jiechu Yang's Response to Journalists about China's Foreign Policy and Relation. People's Daily Newspaper, 13th March, 2008]
* [ No Contest; Elections in China. The Economist, 2006. Infotrack, Gould Academy, 2008.]
* [ Through a glass brightly. The Journal of Commerce, 2008. Infotrack, Gould Academy, 2008]
* [ Union of the State; China's new Labor Law. Economist Newspaper, 2007. Infotrack, Gould Academy, 2008.]
* [ Constitution of People's Republic of China. People's Daily Online, December 4, 1982]
* [ Li, Wenjie. The Establishment and Amendment of the China's Constitution. Xinhua Newspaper, 2003.]
* [ P.R.C. Constitution. A Professional Translation Website, 24th Feb 2006]

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