The National People's Congress (全国人民代表大会 in pinyin: quan2 guo2 ren2 min2 dai4 biao3 da4 hui4, literal meaning: "Pan-Nation Congress of the People's Representives"), abbreviated NPC , is the highest legislative body in the People's Republic of China. Although heavily influenced by the Communist Party of China, it has in recent years begun to move away from its previous role as a symbolic but powerless rubber-stamp legislature. Delegates are elected by the provincial people's congresses for a term of five years. In practice, the Communist Party maintains control over who is elected as a delegate.
The NPC consists of about 3,000 delegates and meets for about two weeks each year. The sessions have become media events because it is at the plenary sessions that the Chinese leadership produces work reports. In addition during NPC sessions, the Chinese leadership hold press conferences with foreign reporters, and this is one of the few opportunities Western reporters have of asking unscripted questions to the Chinese leadership.
Between these sesssions, power is exercised by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress which contains about 500 members.
Although it has been frequently stated that the NPC has never overturned a resolution proposed by the Chinese Communist Party, this is incorrect. In 1993, the NPC refused to consider constitutional amendments proposed by the Chinese Communist Party on the grounds that non-governmental organizations such as the CCP do not have authority to propose legislation. With respect to proposals by the State Council, the NPC has rejected a bill on Maritime Safety, and it is no longer uncommon for the State Council to amend or withdraw a bill on account of NPC opposition. However, despite the increasing assertiveness of the NPC, the Chinese Communist Party still maintains a very strong influence over the legislature, largely by being able to determine the membership of the NPC.
The NPC has a collection of functions and powers, including electing the President of the People's Republic of China and approving the work reports of top officials. Although the NPC has thus far never failed to approve a work report or candidate nominated by the Party, these votes are no longer unianimous. It is considered extremely embarassing for the approval vote to fall below 70%, which occasionally occurs.