After the death of Mao, Deng Xiaoping succeeded to power and mainland China remained under Communist rule. Since then, the government has gradually loosened governmental control over people's personal lives and engaged in reforms to transform its planned economy into a market-based one. Nevertheless the government remains intent on maintaining the political control of the Communist Party of China and has maintained repressive policies against groups which it feels are a threat to its political control. (see Falun Gong and Tibet).
The government of the PRC is controlled by the Communist Party of China. While
there have been some moves toward political liberalization in that contested
elections are now held at the village level and legislatures have shown some assertiveness from time to time, the party retains effective control over governmental appointments and takes
authoritarian measures against groups and individuals who challenge its rule.
While the state uses authoritarian methods to deal with challenges to its rule, it simultaneously attempts to reduce dissent by improving the economy, allowing expression of personal grievances, and giving rather lenient treatment to persons expressing dissent whom the regime does not believe are organizers.
Censorship of political speech is routine, and the Communist Party ruthlessly surpresses any
protest and organizations that it considers a threat to its power as was the case after the
Tiananmen Square protests. However there are limits to the repression that the Party is willing or
able to achieve. The media has become increasingly active at publicizing social problems and exposing
corruption and inefficiency at lower levels of government. The Party has also been rather unsuccessful
at controlling information, and in some cases has had to change policies in
response to public outrage. Although organized opposition against the Party is not tolerated, demonstrations over local issues are frequent and increasingly tolerated.
The support that the Communist Party of China has among the Chinese population is unclear as there are no national elections, and private conversions and anecdotal information often reveals conflicting views. Many in China appear appreciative of the role that the government plays in maintaining social stability, which has allowed the economy to grow without interruption. Political concerns in China include the growing gap between rich and poor in the PRC, and the growing discontent with widespread corruption within the leadership.
There are some other parties in PRC. The CPC cooperates with these parties through a special conference, called the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (C.P.P.C.C.) led by the Chinese government, rather than elections. Nevertheless, the effect of the other parties on the government remains minimal. As an advisory body of CPC without real power, the C.P.P.C.C is quite symbolic.
The PRC maintains the largest standing army in the world, although there is a general belief both within the PLA and among outside observers that numbers are of limited usefulness in estimating the power of a military. The People's Liberation Army (PLA) includes the PRC's navy and air force. Estimating the PRC's military budget lets to widely different numbers based on what is considered military, how to interpret the limited information available, and how one deals with conversion factors such as currency rates. Estimates range from US$9 billion on the low end to US$60 billion (in purchasing power parity) in 2003 at the high end, and the higher estimates make the PLA second only to the United States of nearly $400 billion. The PRC, despite possession of advanced nuclear weapons and delivery systems, is widely seen both inside of China and on the outside as have only limited ability to project military power beyond its borders and is not generally considered to be superpower although it is widely seen as a
major regional power.
The People's Republic of China has administrative control over 22 provinces (省); the government of the People's Republic of China considers Taiwan (台湾) to be its 23rd province. (See Political status of Taiwan for more information.) The government also claims the disputed South China Sea Islands. Apart from provinces there are 5 autonomous regions (自治区) containing concentrations of several minorities; 4 municipalities (直辖市) for China's largest cities and 2 Special Administrative Regions (SAR) (特别行政区) governed by the PRC.
The following are a list of administrative divisions of areas under the control of the People's Republic of China.