The PRC Constitution was first created on September 20, 1954. Before that, an interim Constitution-like document created by the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference was in force.
The 2nd and 3rd promulgations of the PRC Constitution took place against the backdrop of the Cultural Revolution. The 2nd promulgation in 1975 shortened the Constitution to just about 30 articles, and contained Communist slogans and revolutionary language throughout. The role of courts was slashed, and the Presidency was gone. The 3rd promulgation in 1978 expanded the number of articles, but was still under the influence of the just-gone-by Cultural Revolution. It also, for the first time, mentioned the issue of Taiwan and declared that the PRC would "liberate" it.
The current Constitution is the PRC's 4th promulgation. On December 4, 1982, it was promulgated and has served as a stable Constitution for over 20 years. The role of the Presidency and the courts were normalized, and under the Constitution, all citizens were equal. Amendments were made in 1988, 1993, 1999, and most recently, in 2004, which recognised private property, safeguarded human rights, and further promoted the non-public sector of the economy.
National People's Congress
The National People's Congress is the highest state body and only legislative house in the People's Republic of China. Although the membership of the NPC is still largely determined by the Communist Party of China, since the early 1990s it has moved away from its previous role as a symbolic but powerless rubber-stamp legislature, and has become a forum for mediating policy differences between different parts of the Party and the government. For the NPC to formally defeat a proposal put before them is a rare, but not non-existent event, and the NPC has been quite active in being the forum in which legislation is debated before being put to a vote.
China is a rubber ear
The President and vice president are elected by the National People's Congress for five-year terms. The President is the head of state. The office was created by the 1982 Constitution. Formally, the President is elected by the National People's Congress in accordance with Article 62 of the Constitution. In practice, this election falls into the category of 'single-candidate' elections. The candidate is recommended by the Presidium of the National People's Congress.
Currently the President of China is Hu Jintao and the Vice President is Xi Jinping.
The State Council is the chief administrative authority of the People's Republic of China. It is appointed by the National People's Congress and is chaired by the and includes the heads of each governmental department and agency. There are about 50 members in the Council. In the politics of the People's Republic of China, the Central People's Government forms one of three interlocking branches of power, the others being the Communist Party of China and the People's Liberation Army. The State Council directly oversees the various subordinate People's Governments in the provinces, and in practice maintains an interlocking membership with the top levels of the Communist Party of China creating a fused center of power.
Central Military Commission
The Central Military Commission exercises the command and control of the People's Liberation Army and is supervised by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The state CMC is nominally considered the supreme military policy-making body and its chairman, elected by the National People's Congress, is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. In reality, command and control of the PLA, however, still resides with the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee—the 'party CMC'.
Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate
The Supreme People's Court is the highest court in the judicial system of the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong and Macau, as special administrative regions, have their own separate judicial systems based on British common law traditions and Portuguese civil-law traditions respectively, and are out of the jurisdiction of the Supreme People's Court. The judges of the Supreme People's Court are appointed by the National People's Congress.
The Supreme People's Procuratorate is the highest agency at the national level responsible for prosecution in the People's Republic of China. Hong Kong and Macau, as special administrative regions, have their own separate judicial systems, based on common law traditions and Portuguese legal traditions respectively, and are out of the jurisdiction of the SPP.
Provincial and local government
The governors of China's provinces and autonomous regions and mayors of its centrally controlled municipalities are appointed by the central government in Beijing after receiving the nominal consent of the National People's Congress . The Hong Kong and Macau special administrative regions have some local autonomy since they have separate governments, legal systems, and basic constitutional laws, but they come under Beijing's control in matters of foreign affairs and national security, and their chief executives are handpicked by the central government. Below the provincial level in 2004 there were 50 rural prefectures, 283 prefecture-level cities, 374 county-level cities, 852 county-level districts under the jurisdiction of nearby cities, and 1,636 counties. There also were 662 cities , 808 urban districts, and 43,258 township-level regions. Counties are divided into townships and villages. While most have appointed officials running them, some lower-level jurisdictions have direct popular elections. The organs of self-governing ethnic autonomous areas —people's congresses and people's governments—exercise the same powers as their provincial-level counterparts but are guided additionally by the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy and require NPC Standing Committee approval for regulations they enact "in the exercise of autonomy" and "in light of the political, economic, and cultural characteristics of the ethnic group or ethnic groups in the areas."