The Communist Party of China (CPC) are the ruling political party in the country. There are not any realistic opposition parties and political dissidents are rigorously discouraged, making it difficult to gauge the general level of support for the government amongst the populace.
The People's Republic of China replaced the Taiwan-based Republic of China in the United Nations in 1971 and is now considered the sole representative of 'China'. The country maintains diplomatic relations with most nations of the world, although it insists that these countries recognise its claim to Taiwan and do not have any contact with the Republic of China government. China's international relations are not without strain; there have been diplomatic incidents with the United States, Japan and many other western nations, particularly following the government's response to the Tainanmen Square protests in 1989. Relations with Japan remain difficult due to Japan's failure, in Chinese eyes, to adequately recognise the atrocities committed during the second world war. This has been exacerbated by repeated visits by Japanese officials to the Yasukani shrine, built in remembrance of thousands of World War Two war criminals.
Although the constitution of the People's Republic of China guarantees freedom of speech, the right to a fair trial, press freedom, the right to follow a religion and the right to vote, in reality political censorship is widespread. Although individuals are accorded the right to protest, any organised demonstration is quickly suppressed. Organised opposition to the ruling party is not tolerated. Concerns have often been raised by the international community about China's record on human rights, with many allegations of abuses. China has the highest number of death penalty executions in the world, accounting for roughly 90% of the world total in 2004.
Shanghai holds and important position in Chinese politics and many politicians who had risen through the ranks in the city move on to senior government posts in Beijing.
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