To what extend can we compare the political regimes and societal structures of China and Russia?


Term Paper, 2020

12 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Excerpt

Table of contents

Introduction

I) Different constitutional structures as fundament of the regimes
A) Two political systems and their connection to the economy
B) The principle of a “Constitutional state”

II) Authoritarian tendencies with a power monopoly around the President
A) Incorporation of power by the Presidents
B) Similar instruments to assure the power monopoly

Conclusion

Bibliography

Introduction

In 2018 China has approved the removal of the two-term limit on the presidency, effectively allowing Xi Jinping to stay in power for life1. In 2020 Vladimir Putin wins a referendum to stay in power at least until 20362. These two headlines show that there are similar evolutions in China and Russia concerning their political systems. This is not the only similarity: We often hear from violations of the human rights such as the freedom of speech or of the press in China3 and Russia4 and they are both classified as authoritarian regimes in international rankings5. In addition, both have a communist past which influenced their political regimes of today.

The question which arises is therefore: To what extend can we compare the political regimes and societal structures both of China and Russia?

As we wonder what similarities and what differences we encounter in both states it is important to define two terms: a) political regime and b) authoritarian tendencies. A political regime or system is a set of legal institutions with formal norms written down in the constitution and some form of government6. By authoritarian tendencies we mean that the political regime tends towards an authoritarian rule. Authoritarian rule can be defined as the concentration of power in the hands of a leader that is not responsible to the parliament and that no opposition is allowed to compete for power7.

To answer the key question of how comparable the political regimes of China and Russia are the Different constitutional structures as fundament of the regimes (I) and the Authoritarian tendencies with a power monopoly around the President (II) will be examined in both countries.

I) Different constitutional structures as fundament of the regimes

In a first time we are going to compare the main features of the Two political systems and their connection to the economy (A) and in a second time we will study The principle of a “Constitutional state” (B). This will be done as a comparison of the constitution of both states leaving apart, for now, that the political reality might be different.

A) Two political systems and their connection to the economy

We can observe a few differences between the two countries concerning the political and the economic system.

China describes itself as a “socialist state” in Article 1 of the Constitution8 whereas Russia is a “democratic federal law bound state” according to the first article of its Constitution9. They name their political system both in the first article of their constitutions which shows that China and Russia have a different official political nature.

The administrative structure differs in both countries as well: China is a unitarian state10 and Russia a federal state11. From this derives the parliamentary structure being a unicameral parliament in China and a bicameral parliament in Russia.

China’s National People’s Congress is elected by indirect universal suffrage and appoints the Standing Committee which exercises the duties of the National People’s Congress throughout the year12. The National People’s Congress also elects the President and the Vice-President13. It is crucial to know that more than two thirds out of nearly 3000 seats of the National People’s Congress are occupied by the Chinese Communist Party14.

Russia’s bicameral parliament consists of a Federation Council where the deputies are representatives of the provinces and the Duma which is elected by indirect universal suffrage15. The Duma has 450 seats and 54.2% of them are occupied by United Russia.

When it comes to the political ideology, we can also observe a huge difference between China where the socialist ideology is written down in the Constitution16 and Russia where Article 13 says that there is no state ideology17. In China, in addition, Article 19 says that there must be a socialist education18.

Those three factors - the nature of the political system, the administrative structure and the political ideology - shape the idea of a functioning economy and influence therefore the economic system of each country. Article 8 of the Russian Constitution says that “a free flow of goods, services and financial resources, support for competition, and the freedom of economic activity” shall be guaranteed19. This is what we would call a capitalist economy. China in contrary has a “socialist economic system” according to article 6 of its Constitution which means that there is public ownership with some exceptions for foreign enterprises20.

China might have been more influenced of its communist past which we can see by the socialist economic system and the general socialist ideology. Russia in contrary seems to have overcome its communist past as they have no official ideology and a capitalist economy.

We have seen that the constitutions of China and Russia show huge differences concerning the political system, the administrative structure, the political ideology and the economic system.

B) The principle of a “Constitutional state”

We will now go more into detail by studying if and how the principle of a “Constitutional state” is respected in China and Russia and see that there are various differences also in this regard.

The principle of a “constitutional state” is the basis for today’s democratic states21 which is why it is interesting to compare the respect of this principle in China and Russia. A “constitutional state” can be defined as the following: A state where law rules over politics and the hierarchy of standards, separation of power and fundamental human rights are respected22.

Concerning the hierarchy of standards, it is important that the highest entity in national law is the Constitution and the constitutionality of (new) laws must be controlled23.

In China there is no Constitutional Court as according to Article 132 “The Supreme People’s Court is the highest adjudicatory organ”24. We can therefore assume that there is low or even no respect of the hierarchy of standards. Russia, however, has a Constitutional Court and calls itself a “law bound state” in the first article of its Constitution25. The hierarchy of standards is therefore, theoretically, respected.

The second principle is separation of power which means that the legislative, executive and judicial power are divided and independent. This is the case for Russia according to Article 10 which says: “The state power in the Russian Federation shall be exercised on the basis of its division into legislative, executive and judicial power. The bodies of legislative, executive and judicial power shall be independent”26. In China where all state institutions, including the Supreme Court, are responsible to the National People’s Congress there is no real separation of power27.

The third principle which must be respected in a “constitutional state” are the fundamental human rights. The first time human rights are mentioned in the Chinese Constitution is article 33 which is quite late compared to other democratic constitutions. In addition, Article 41 says that citizens may criticise the state “but they shall not fabricate or distort facts to make false accusations”28 which is a clear restriction on fundamental human rights.

In Russia’s Constitution the protection of human rights is already mentioned in Article 2 and the whole Chapter 2 is also dedicated to human rights29. Article 55, however, says that “The rights and freedoms of men and citizen may be limited by the federal law”30 which may change the essential content of human rights and can be valid in an individual case. This is also a restriction even if a less important one than in China.

II) Authoritarian tendencies with a power monopoly around the President

After having seen quite a few differences between China and Russia concerning their constitutions we are now going to focus on one mayor similarity concerning the political reality which are the Authoritarian tendencies with a power monopoly around the President. In both countries we can observe an Incorporation of power by the Presidents (A) and that Similar instruments to assure the power monopoly (B) are used.

A) Incorporation of power by the Presidents

The main power of the state is incorporated, both in China and Russia, by the Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin. The reasons which enable this incorporation will be named and explained in the following.

The Chinese President is elected by the National People’s Congress which is dominated by the Chinese Communist Party as we have seen early in this paper. The President himself is the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party31. As you can see the President is not only the leader of the executive power, but he has also influence on the legislative power being the general secretary of the party holding a two third majority in parliament. In addition to that, his thinking is written down in the Constitution32 and he can, through the National People’s Congress, elect the president of the Supreme People’s Court which lets him take influence on the judicial power as well33. Xi Jinping, the actual Chinese President, incorporates more or less the power of all branches.

The Russian President is elected through direct universal suffrage which makes him independent to the elections of the Federal Assembly34. In addition, there is no Vice-President since the Constitution of the Russian Federation of 1993. The President appoints the Prime Minister, he has legislative initiative and the right to veto35. Those three capacities enable him to intervene in the legislative branch. Finally, he has also a certain influence on the judiciary branch as he proposes nominations for the Constitutional Court36. In Russia the separation of power is quite weak as well and therefore even more power is accumulated by Vladimir Putin, the actual President of Russia.

[...]


1 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-43361276 (ACCESSED 20/09/2020)

2 Vasilyeve, N. (2020, July 2) Vladimir Putin wins 'by landslide' to stay in power at least until 2036 from https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/02/russias-putin-wins-landslide-stay-power-least-2036/ (ACCESSED 20/09/2020)

3 5.1. Violation of human rights in china. (2020). Modern China Studies, 27 (2), 235-256. Retrieved from https://acces-distant.sciencespo.fr/login?url=https://www-proquest-com.acces-distant.sciencespo.fr/docview/2425618550?accountid=13739 (Accessed 26/09/2020)

4 https://www.echr.coe.int/documents/cp_russia_eng.pdf (Accessed 26/09/2020)

5 https://www.eiu.com/topic/democracy-index (Accessed 26/09/2020)

6 https://www.britannica.com/topic/political-system (Accessed 27/09/2020)

7 Newton, K. and W. Van Deth, J. (2017) Foundations of Comparative Politics (3rdedition), Cambridge University Press, p. 397

8 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

9 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

10 Article 5 and 52 of the Chinese Constitutuion http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

11 Article 1 of the Russian Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

12 Article 59 and 65 of the Chinese Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

13 Article 62 (4) of the Chinese Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

14 https://isdp.eu/publication/chinas-presidential-election-role-npc/ (Accessed 26/09/2020)

15 Article 95.1 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

16 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

17 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

18 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (ACCESSED 17/09/2020)

19 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

20 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (Accessed 17/09/2020)

21 https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/what-is-the-rule-of-law/ (Accessed 26/09/2020)

22 https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/what-is-the-rule-of-law/ (Accessed 26/09/2020)

23 https://www.un.org/ruleoflaw/what-is-the-rule-of-law/ (Accessed 26/09/2020)

24 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (Accessed 17/09/2020)

25 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

26 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

27 Article 3 and 133 of the Chinese Constitution http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (Accessed 17/09/2020)

28 http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (Accessed 17/09/2020)

29 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

30 http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

31 https://isdp.eu/publication/chinas-presidential-election-role-npc/ (Accessed 26/09/2020)

32 Ardant P. et Mathieu B. (2019). Droit constitutionnel et institutions politiques, Issy-les-Moulineaux Cedex : LGDJ, Lextenso, p.360

33 Article 62 (8) of the Chinese Constitution http://english.www.gov.cn/archive/lawsregulations/201911/20/content_WS5ed8856ec6d0b3f0e9499913.html (Accessed 17/09/2020)

34 Article 81.1 of the Russian Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

35 Article 83 a., 84 e., 90.1, 104, 107.3 of the Russian Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

36 Article 83 f. of the Russian Constitution http://www.constitution.ru/en/10003000-01.htm (Accessed 17/09/2020)

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Details

Title
To what extend can we compare the political regimes and societal structures of China and Russia?
College
Sciences Po Paris, Dijon, Nancy, Poitier, Menton, Havre
Grade
1,0
Author
Year
2020
Pages
12
Catalog Number
V957984
ISBN (eBook)
9783346304360
Language
English
Tags
Russia, China, political regime, comparative politics
Quote paper
Johanna Schuler (Author), 2020, To what extend can we compare the political regimes and societal structures of China and Russia?, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/957984

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