Permanent body of the NPC, the Standing Committee, when the NPC is not in session, exercises the power of the highest state organ, is under the supervision of the full congress of the NPC, is responsible to and reports its work to the full congress of the NPC.
The Standing Committee is composed of the chairman, vice chairmen, the secretary-general and members. All of its component members are elected from among the deputies to the NPC. Normally, they represent: (1) the Communist Party; (2) other political parties and patriotic and democratic personages not affiliated to any political party; (3) social organizations of workers, youth and women; (4) the People's Liberation Army; and (5) ethnic minorities each with a population more than a million.
The term of office of the Standing Committee, also five years, is the same as that of the NPC. It, however, begins with the election of the Standing Committee by the 1st session of the NPC and ends with the election of the new Standing Committee at the 1st session of the following NPC. The chairman and vice chairmen of the Standing Committee shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. Meanwhile, component members of the Standing Committee shall not serve in administrative, judicial or persecuting organs of the state. If they assume posts in such organs, they must first give up their position in the Standing Committee.
The chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC presides over the work of the Standing Committee and the vice chairmen and the secretary-general assist the chairman in his work. The Meeting of the Chairmen, attended by the chairman, vice chairmen and the secretary-general, is in charge of important routine work of the Standing Committee. This Meeting is held once every two months and special sessions may be convened whenever necessary.
The chairmen of the Standing Committee of the 1st to the 10th NPC have been Liu Shaoqi, Zhu De, Ye Jianying, Peng Zhen, Wan Li, Qiao Shi, Li Peng and Wu Bangguo.
In accordance with the Constitution and the Organization Law of the National People's Congress, the functions and powers of the Standing Committee include the following:
1. Legislation. According to the present Constitution, the NPC and its Standing Committee jointly exercise the power of legislation. The legislative rights of the Standing Committee mainly include: drafting and revising laws except those to be enacted only by the full congress of the NPC; partially supplementing and amending, when the NPC is not in session, laws enacted by the NPC, provided that the basic principles of these laws are not contravened. As a result, a large amount of the legislative job is conducted by the Standing Committee, with the exception of that involving the Constitution and basic laws.
2. Interpretation of the Constitution and laws. Interpretation of the Constitution means legislative explanations that are needed for further defining the legal stipulations or serving as supplements. This is in the interest of timely answering and solving questions arising over the process of implementing the Constitution or laws from a legal point of view, so as to ensure the accurate execution of the Constitution and laws.
3. Supervision of the enforcement of the Constitution. The present Constitution also gives the Standing Committee of the NPC the power of supervising its enforcement, apart from stipulating that the NPC has the power of supervision. To allow the Standing Committee, the permanent organ of the NPC, to exercise regular supervision over the enforcement of the Constitution is of great significance to the implementation of the Constitution.
4. Supervision of the work of other state organs. The Standing Committee supervises the work of the State Council, the Central Military Commission, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. It annuls those administrative rules and regulations, decisions or orders of the State Council that contravene the Constitution and laws, as well as those local regulations or decisions of the organs of state power of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government that contravene the Constitution or the administrative rules and regulations.
5. Appointment and removal. When the NPC is not session, the Standing Committee decides on the choice of ministers in charge of ministries and state commissions, the auditor-general or the secretary-general of the State Council, upon nomination by the premier of the State Council, decide on the choice of members of the Central Military Commission, upon nomination by the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, appoint or remove vice presidents and judges of the Supreme People's Court, members of its judicial committee and the president of the Military Court, at the recommendation of the president of the Supreme People's Court, appoint or remove deputy procurators-general and procurators of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, members of its procuratorial committee and the chief procurator of the Military Procuratorate, and approve the appointment or removal of the chief procurators of the people's procuratorates of provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government, at the recommendation of the procurator-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. It also decides on the appointment or recall of plenipotentiary representatives abroad.
6. Decision-making over important issues in the life of the state. This includes decision on the ratification or abrogation of treaties and important agreements concluded with foreign states, institution of systems of titles and ranks for military and diplomatic personnel and of other special ranks, instituting state medals and titles or honors and decision on their conferment, decision on the granting of special pardons, decision on, when the NPC is not in session, the proclamation of a state of war in the event of armed attack on the country or in fulfillment of international treaty obligations concerning joint resistance against aggression, decision on general or partial mobilization, decision on the imposition of martial law throughout the country or in particular provinces, autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the Central Government, examination and approval of, when the NPC is not in session, partial adjustment to the national economic and social development plans and state budget which are necessary during the course of their implementation.
7. Other functions and powers delegated by the NPC. These may include presiding over the election of the deputies to the NPC, convening sessions of the NPC, contacting NPC deputies and organizing them to make inspection and providing leadership over special committees when the NPC is not in session.