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world news for smart teens

China Lowdown: Leaders in Beijing are picked without elections

This article is part of China Lowdown, WONKedition’s series to help you understand one of the world’s biggest super powers.

October 2020
As Americans will soon vote for president and other leaders, it’s worth thinking about how the world’s second super power picks its chief of state.

China doesn’t hold popular elections. The country’s leaders are chosen behind closed doors by a selected number of Communist Party delegates. Since the 1990s China limited the time a person could be president to two terms, or 10 years. That was recently changed to allow current President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely.

The People’s Republic of Chinas was founded in 1949. The two presidents that probably have meant the most for today’s China are Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

Mao Zedong is the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. He took power after a civil war and ruled until his death in 1976. Mao is one of the most important figures of the twentieth century. He adapted communism to China and followers of his ideas are called Maoists. During his rule China was a poor and troubled rural nation.

After taking power in 1978, Deng Xiaoping pushed for reforms that allowed for a mix of capitalism and communism. For example, Deng allowed foreigners to invest in Chinese businesses and gave citizens more liberties when buying and selling goods. Deng is seen as the architect of the strategy that’s turned China into an industrial and economic giant.

Read also China Lowdown: Taiwan’s old beef with the Communist Party is heating up.

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