National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party
Term limits
Five years
Meeting place
Great Hall of the People
Beijing, China

The National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (Chinese: 中国共产党全国代表大会; pinyin: Zhōngguó Gòngchǎndǎng Quánguó Dàibiǎo Dàhuì; literally: Chinese Communist Party National Representatives Congress) is a party congress that is held every five years. The National Congress is theoretically the highest body within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 1987 the National Congress has been held in the months of October or November. The venue for the event, beginning in 1956, is the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Congress is the public venue for top-level leadership changes in the CCP and the formal event for changes to the Party's Constitution. In the past two decades the National Congress of the CCP has been pivotal at least as a symbolic part of leadership changes, and therefore has gained international media attention.

The Congress formally approves the membership of the Central Committee, a body composed of the top decision-makers in the party, state, and society. In practice, however, only slightly more candidates than open seats are nominated for the Central Committee, limiting the Congress's role in the selection process to eliminating very unpopular candidates. Each five-year cycle of the National People's Congress also has a series of plenums of the Central Committee which since the mid-1990s have been held more or less regularly once every year.

From the mid-1980s to the late-2010s, the CCP has attempted to maintain a smooth and orderly succession and avoiding a cult of personality, by having a major shift in personnel every ten years in even number party congresses, and by promoting people in preparation for this shift in odd number party congresses.[citation needed] In addition, as people at the top level of the party retire, there is room for younger members of the party to move up one level. Hence the party congress is a time of a general personnel reshuffle, and the climax of negotiations that involve not only the top leadership but practically all significant political positions in China. Because of the pyramid structure of the party and the existence of mandatory retirement ages, cadres who are not promoted at a party congress are likely to face the end of their political careers.[citation needed]

Similar to the practice of the NPC, the delegates to the Congress are formally selected from grassroots party organizations, and like the NPC, there is a system of staggered elections in which one level of the party votes for the delegates to the next higher level. For the National Congress, delegates are elected by the CCP's provincial level party congresses or their equivalent units in a selection process that is screened and supervised by the party's Organization Department as directed by the Politburo Standing Committee (PSC).[1]


The party rules state that just before the National Congress, a preparatory committee must be established by the Politburo, with the current general secretary of the CCP generally chairing the committee. This committee oversees the election of the few thousand delegates to the National Congress and prepares a list of candidates to be elected to the Central Committee and its bodies, including the Politburo, PSC, Secretariat and the Central Military Commission. It additionally establishes a drafting committee that drafts the work report of the CCP general secretary, and also establishes a group that proposes amendments to the CCP constitution.[2]

On the day before the first session of the National Congress, the incumbent General Secretary presides over a preparatory meeting of the congress's delegates. At this meeting he formally proposes the candidates for the Presidium of the National Congress (Chinese: 党代会主席团) and a Congress Secretary-General for approval as a single list. After undergoing the formality of election, the Presidium subsequently convenes on the same day and elects a Standing Committee to manage the procedural affairs of the National Congress during its sessions.[3]

The Standing Committee of the Presidium of the National Congress (Chinese: 党代会主席团常委会) has been said to be the "leading core" of the Party Congress.[4] It discusses and seeks consent on important issues related to the candidates and accordingly proposes solutions to the Presidium, chairs the plenary meetings of the Presidium and the electoral proceedings, reviews the rehearsal voting outcomes and submits a list of official candidates to the Presidium for discussion and approval. One of the major roles of the Presidium Standing Committee is to submit to the Party Congress Presidium a list of people who would chair the first plenary meeting of the newly elected Central Committee, thereby ensuring leadership continuity during the formal procedure that is used to elect the Politburo, the PSC and the General Secretary.[4]

In recent elections, the members of the SCPNC have included all members of the Politburo and the Secretariat.[4] The size of the committee is not fixed and, in contingency situations, can also include other actors from the party and the state. Since 2002, all living and non-expelled former PSC members have also been members of the committee. This means that the Standing Committee of the National Congress Presidium essentially encompasses the de facto selectorate for the new Politburo and Standing Committee. According to Ling Li, who teaches Chinese studies in the University of Vienna, this system allows for peaceful transitions of power by allowing former and current party leaders to influence outcomes.[4]


CC Central Committee
CCDI Central Commission for Discipline Inspection
FM Full member (a member with voting rights).
AM Alternate member (a member without voting rights).
VD Voting delegate (a delegate who can vote).
AD Alternate delegate (a delegate who cannot vote).
DU Data unavailable.
SID Specially invited delegate (a party member who has retired, but given ordinary delegate rights).
Political Report Political Report to the Central Committee, a document which briefs delegates about the period since the last congress and future work.
Constitution Constitution of the Chinese Communist Party, the fundamental governing document of the CCP. Formerly known as the Charter.
PMR Party members represented at the congress by delegates (the party membership at the time).


Congress Duration
Delegates Electoral
Elected Political Report
(presented by)
1st National Congress
8 days
23–31 July 1921 12 7 Chen Duxiu
[note 1]
2nd National Congress
7 days
CC consultations
16–23 July 1922 12 DU 5 FM

3 AM
Chen Duxiu 1st Charter 195
3rd National Congress
8 days
CC appointments
12–20 June 1923 ~30 DU 9 FM

5 AM
Chen Duxiu Amendment 420
4th National Congress
11 days
CC appointments
11–22 January 1925 20 DU 9 FM

5 AM
Chen Duxiu Amendment 994
5th National Congress
13 days
1927 election
27 April–9 May 1927 ~80 11 22 FM

14 AM
Chen Duxiu Amendment
[note 2]
6th National Congress
23 days
1928 election
18 June–11 July 1928 84 VD

34 AD
17 14 FM

13 AM
Qu Qiubai 2nd Charter 130,194
7th National Congress
49 days
1945 election
23 April–11 June 1945 544 VD

208 AD
8 44 FM

33 AM
Mao Zedong 3rd Constitution 1,210,000
8th National Congress
30 days
1956 election
15–27 September 1956

5–23 May 1958
1,026 VD

86 AD
31 97 FM

73 AM
Liu Shaoqi 4th Constitution 10,730,000
9th National Congress
23 days
1969 election
1–24 April 1969 1,512 DU 170 FM

109 AM
Lin Biao 5th Constitution 22,000,000
10th National Congress
4 days
1973 election
24–28 August 1973 1,249 DU 194 FM

124 AM
Zhou Enlai 6th Constitution 28,000,000
11th National Congress
6 days
1977 election
12–18 August 1977 1,510 DU 201 FM

132 AM
Hua Guofeng Amendment 35,000,000
12th National Congress
6 days
1982 election
1–11 September 1982 1,600 VD

149 AD
DU 210 FM

138 AM
132 Hu Yaobang 7th Constitution 39,000,000
13th National Congress
8 days
1987 election
25 October–1 November 1987 1,936 VD

61 SID
33 175 FM

110 AM
69 Zhao Ziyang Amendment 46,000,000
14th National Congress
6 days
1992 election
12–18 October 1992 1,989 VD

46 SID
34 189 FM

130 AM
108 Jiang Zemin Amendment 51,000,000
15th National Congress
7 days
1997 election
12 September

18 September 1997
2,074 VD

60 SID
36 193 FM

151 AM
115 Jiang Zemin Amendment 58,000,000
16th National Congress
7 days
2002 election
8–14 November 2002 2,114 VD

40 SID
38 198 FM

158 AM
121 Jiang Zemin Amendment 66,000,000
17th National Congress
7 days
2007 election
15–21 October 2007 2,217 VD

57 SID
38 204 FM

167 AM
127 Hu Jintao Amendment 73,363,000
18th National Congress
7 days
2012 election
8–14 November 2012 2,270 VD

57 SID
40 205 FM

171 AM
130 Hu Jintao Amendment 82,600,000
19th National Congress
7 days
2017 election
18–24 October 2017 2,280 VD

57 SID
40 204 FM

172 AM
133 Xi Jinping Amendment 89,000,000
20th National Congress
7 days
2022 election
16–22 October 2022 2,296 VD

83 SID

40 205 FM

171 AM
133 Xi Jinping Amendment 96,700,000


  1. ^ The 1st National Congress conceived of a party program, a document which focuses on ideology rather than explaining the organizational structure of the party.[5]
  2. ^ Decided by congress that the 5th Politburo would amend the constitution after the congress.[5]



  1. ^ Li, Cheng (2012). "Preparing For the 18th Party Congress: Procedures and Mechanisms" (PDF). China Leadership Monitor (36). Hoover Institution. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 4, 2016. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
  2. ^ "Raising the Curtain on China's 20th Party Congress: Mechanics, Rules, "Norms," and the Realities of Power". Asia Society. Retrieved August 28, 2022.
  3. ^ "党的二十大举行预备会议和主席团第一次会议". People's Daily. Retrieved November 14, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d Ling, Li. "How China's Party Congress Actually Works". The Diplomat. Retrieved September 6, 2022.
  5. ^ a b Wu 2015, p. 182.


Information on congresses, number of delegates, electoral units, number of people elected to CCs, party membership, the individual who presented the Political Report and information on when the congress was convened can be found in these sources:

Further reading