Editor's note: The annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC) will begin in Beijing on March 5, 2006. The following is a guide to the structure and workings of the congress.
According to China's Constitution, the NPC is the highest organ of State power with a Standing Committee as its permanent body.
In 1954, five years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the First National People's Congress was convened, marking the establishment of the people's congress system.
NPC and local people's congresses are responsible for creating and supervising administrative, judicial and procuratorial bodies at their respective levels.
Deputies to county and township people's congresses are directly elected while deputies to people's congress above the county level are elected by deputies at lower levels.
NPC deputies are supervised by their constituencies at local levels, who can recall them, and are ultimately responsible to the people.
Each NPC has a five-year term.
The NPC Standing Committee, elected by NPC members, has full parliamentary power when the NPC is not sitting. It is responsible to, and reports its work to the NPC. The NPC and its Standing Committee exercise legislative power.
The NPC can amend the Constitution and supervises its enforcement. It formulates and amends basic statutes and other laws. It also decides on and elects the leading personnel of State-level administrative, judicial, procuratorial and military bodies, has the right to recall them, and examines and makes decisions on fundamental, long-term and key issues affecting the nation.
The NPC is empowered to examine and approve the national economic and social development plans and reports on their implementation.
It is also responsible for examining and approving the State budget.
The NPC presidium, NPC Standing Committee, special working committees under the NPC, the State Council, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate have the right to make proposals to the NPC.