List of Presidents of the People's Republic of China

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Not to be confused with the List of Presidents of the Republic of China.
To avoid confusion, all the names on this list follow the Eastern order convention (family name first, personal name second) for consistency.

This is a list of the Presidents and other heads of state of the People's Republic of China.

The office, called 国家主席 (Guójiāzhǔxí) in Chinese, was created in 1954 when the 1st Constitution consolidated the system of government in the People's Republic of China. At the time, the title was translated into English as State Chairman. The position was abolished between 1975 and 1982 with the functions of head of state being performed by the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. The presidency was revived under the fourth constitution in 1982.


Generations of leadership

      First Administration       Second Administration       Third Administration       Hu–Wen Administration       Xi–Li Administration

Central People's Government (1949–1954)[edit]

Chairman of the Central People's Government
Portrait Name
Term of office Vice Chairmen
Mao.jpg Mao Zedong
1 October 1949 27 September 1954 Zhu De
Liu Shaoqi
Song Qingling
Li Jishen
Zhang Lan
Gao Gang

The 1st Constitution (1954–1975)[edit]

Chairman of the People's Republic of China
Portrait Name
Term of office NPC Vice Chairmen
1 Mao.jpg Mao Zedong
Beijing At-large
27 September 1954 27 April 1959 I Zhu De
2 LiuShaoqi Colour.jpg Liu Shaoqi
Beijing At-large
27 April 1959 3 January 1965 II Song Qingling
Dong Biwu
2 January 1965[1] 31 October 1968[2] III
Hubei At-large
24 February 1972 17 January 1975 III Vacancy by ascension[citation needed]

The 2nd and 3rd Constitution (1975–1982)[edit]

Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress
Portrait Name
Term of office NPC Vice Chairmen
Zhu De.jpg Zhu De
Sichuan At-large
17 January 1975 6 July 1976 IV Song Qingling[3]
Dong Biwu[3] (died 2 April 1975)
and others
Soong Ching-ling 1937.jpg Song Qingling
Shanghai At-large
6 July 1976 5 March 1978 IV
After Zhu De's death, Song Qingling served as acting Chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for the remainder of the 4th National People's Congress's term.[citation needed]
Ye Jianying.jpg Ye Jianying
5 March 1978 18 June 1983 V Song Qingling
and others
Honorary President of the People's Republic of China
Portrait Name
Term of office NPC Notes
Soong Ching-ling 1937.jpg Song Qingling
Shanghai At-large
16 May 1981 28 May 1981 V Shortly before her death, Song Qingling was named Honorary President of the People's Republic of China.

The 4th Constitution (since 1983)[edit]

President of the People's Republic of China
Portrait Name
Term of office NPC Vice President
3 Li Xiannian - 1974.jpg Li Xiannian
Hubei At-large
18 June 1983 8 April 1988 VI Ulanhu
He started reforms in foreign policy and China began opening to the world. He was first Chinese president who visited USA. He was also the first state president who officially visited North Korea. In 1984, Li met with US President Ronald Reagan during Reagan's visit to China, notably discussing the status of Taiwan with the President. In 1988, Li resigned from his position as President of the People's Republic of China and was replaced by Yang Shangkun. Li was then named Chairman of the National Committee of the CPPCC.[4]
4 Yang Shangkun.jpg Yang Shangkun
8 April 1988 27 March 1993 VII Wang Zhen
Yang promoted economic reform but opposed political liberalization, a position which Deng Xiaoping eventually came to identify with. Yang reached the height of his political career after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, but his organized opposition to Jiang Zemin's leadership led Deng to force Yang to retire.
5 Jiang Zemin at Hickam Air Base, October 26, 1997, cropped.jpg Jiang Zemin
(born 1926)
Shanghai At-large
27 March 1993 15 March 1998 VIII Rong Yiren
15 March 1998 15 March 2003 IX Hu Jintao
Under his leadership, China experienced substantial developmental growth with reforms, saw the peaceful return of Hong Kong from the United Kingdom and Macau from Portugal, and improved its relations with the outside world while the Communist Party maintained its tight control over the government. Jiang has been criticized for being too concerned about his personal image at home, and too conciliatory towards Russia and the United States abroad.[5] Served as Mayor of Shanghai (1985–1989), Chairman of the Central Military Commission of China (1990–2005)
6 Hu Jintao Cannes2011.jpg Hu Jintao
(born 1942)
Tibet At-large (until 2008)
Jiangsu At-large (from 2008)
15 March 2003 15 March 2008 X Zeng Qinghong
15 March 2008 14 March 2013 XI Xi Jinping
During his term in office, Hu reintroduced state control in some sectors of the economy that were relaxed by the previous administration, and has been conservative with political reforms.[6] Along with his colleague, Premier Wen Jiabao, Hu presided over nearly a decade of consistent economic growth and development that cemented China as a major world power. He sought to improve socio-economic equality domestically through the Scientific Development Concept, which aimed to build a "Socialist Harmonious Society" that was prosperous and free of social conflict.[7] In foreign policy, Hu advocated for "China's peaceful development", pursuing soft power in international relations and a business-oriented approach to diplomacy. Through Hu's tenure, China's influence in Africa, Latin America, and other developing countries has increased.[8] Served as Vice President (1998–2003)
7 Xi Jinping Sanya2013.jpg Xi Jinping
(born 1953)
Shanghai At-large
14 March 2013 Incumbent XII Li Yuanchao
Served as Vice President (2008–2013).

Living Former Presidents[edit]

As of April 2015, there are two living former presidents:

President Term of office Date of birth
Jiang Zemin 1993-2003 (1926-08-17) August 17, 1926 (age 88)
Hu Jintao 2003-2013 (1942-12-21) December 21, 1942 (age 72)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National People's Congress Notice 1". People's Daily. 3 January 1965. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  2. ^ "Communique of the expanded 12th plenary session of the Eighth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China". People's Daily Online. 3 January 1965. Retrieved 2013-11-24. 
  3. ^ a b Sheng Yonghua [盛永華] (2006). Chronological Biography of Soong Ching-ling, 1893-1981 [宋慶齡年譜 1893-1981], in Chinese. Guangzhou: Guangdong People's Publishing [廣東人民出版社]. pp. 2:1799. ISBN 7218052649. 
  4. ^ Anderson, Kurt (7 May 1984). "History Beckons Again". Time. Retrieved 19 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Tomoyuki Kojima. China's Omnidirectional Diplomacy: Cooperation with all, Emphasis on Major Powers. Asia-Pacific Review, 1469–2937, Volume 8, Issue 2, 2001
  6. ^ Luard, Tim (11 January 2005). "BBC:China's Leader shows his stripes. 11 January 2005". BBC News. Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  7. ^ "Kuhn, Robert Lawrence: Hu's Political Philosophies". Retrieved 13 March 2010. 
  8. ^ World Savvy Monitor: China and the World - A foreign policy overview