National Party Congresses
The National Party Congress is in theory the highest body of the CCP. (It should be distinguished from the National People's Congress). After its ascent to power in 1949, the party held no congress until 1956. This was the eighth congress since the party's founding in 1921; (see table 1, Appendix B). The Ninth National Party Congress convened in April 1969, the tenth in August 1973, the eleventh in August 1977, and the twelfth in September 1982. The Thirteenth National Party Congress was scheduled for October 1987. The National Party Congress reviews reports on party activities since the last session, revises the party constitution, ratifies the party program for a specific period, and elects the Central Committee, which serves as the highest organ of the CCP when the National Party Congress is not in session. The congress has, however, neither the independence to generate legislative bills nor the effective power to check and balance the party and government bureaucracies. Although limited in its role--in effect it is a pro forma approval body--the National Party Congress performs a useful function as a forum for rising party cadres who represent all regions, ethnic groups, and functional groups. The delegates (there were 1,545 for the Twelfth National Party Congress) can observe firsthand the working of the party machine at the national level, gain a better perspective on the direction of political transformation planned by the leadership, and serve as communicators of party policies to the grass roots. Further, delegates can provide the top party leadership a sense of the response and progress made concerning key party programs in their home districts.
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