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The Chinese constitution sets out the basic principles of election law.

According to Article 34 of the constitution, all Chinese citizens who have reached 18 years of age are entitled to vote. This is regardless of the person's "race, sex, occupation, family background, religious belief, education, property status or length of residence". The same article, however, permits the removal of voting rights from people who have been "deprived of political rights according to law". There are no qualifications or standards attached to this exception in the constitution.

The National People's Congress (NPC) is the legislative power of the Chinese state, and is the supreme organ of state power. The method of election of deputies to the NPC is not outlined in the constitution itself. Instead, article 59 of the constitution states that the number of deputies and the manner of their election is "prescribed by law". This allows the NPC to control such matters. The constitution does set some limits on NPC elections. For example, article 60 says that the NPC is elected for a term of five years, and that a new sitting of the NPC must be elected at least two months before the expiration of the outgoing sitting.

Below the NPC there are several less powerful local and municipal congresses. These exercise certain local powers. Again, the constitution - in article 97 - says that the number of representatives in these congresses, and the manner of their election, is to be assigned by law.

There are no direct elections for the positions of President or Vice President of The People's Republic of China. These positions are assigned by the NPC.

It is worth noting that the Chinese constitution does not operate in the same way as constitutions in western liberal democracies. In the USA, for example, if the state affects a constitutional right, a citizen may seek to have this wrong corrected in a court of law. No such system exists in China. The constitution may only be interpreted by the NPC, and no system exists for individuals to complain against state actions which affect them, even if such interests are guaranteed by the constitution.

In America, for instance, if someone was denied their constitutional right to vote due to their skin colour, they could take a case to the supreme court to have this decision invalidated, as it is contrary to the constitution. In China, if someone was denied the right to vote for the same reason, despite the fact that the right to vote is contained in article 34, they have no procedure by which to address their concern.

The full text of the Chinese Constitution can be found here:

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Q: What does the Chinese constitution say about elections?
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