This will probably rankle some, but the world of politics inside China isn’t that much different from the United States. Where the U.S. has two major parties and several splinter parties with little or no political power no matter how loud they shout, China has one major political party and several splinter parties without political power.
But what goes on inside the Chinese Communist Party mirrors what goes on between the GOP and the Democrats—when I say mirrors, I mean there are factions that debate and disagree with each other.
What the world sees in China is a government that seems to be walking in step but under the surface there are a lot of different opinions and debates taking place behind closed doors. In the end, like all republics—instead of one man making all the decisions—a consensus usually makes the final decision on important issues.
The biggest difference with the CCP is that any disagreements and arguments between factions are not for public consumption through the media like it is in the political circus that makes up American politics.
“It’s worth remembering that China has parties other than the Chinese Communist Party, although this does not make China a ‘multi-party state’ in the sense of the term. But observing how the CCP interacts with these other groupings can be revealing.” (Sino-Gist)
The following list represents the eight registered minor political parties in China:
1. Revolutionary Committee of Kuomintang that’s considered second in status to the CCP has 53,000 members.
2. China’s Democratic League formed by 130,000 members, mainly mid-level and senior intellectuals.
3. Representing market socialism is the China Democratic national Construction Association that was formed by 69,000 members.
4. China Association for Promoting Democracy with about 65,000 members.
5. Chinese Peasants’ and Workers’ Democratic Party with 65,000 members
6. Zhigongdang of China: Returned overseas Chinese with 15,000 members
7. Jiusan Society with 68.000 members
8. Taiwan Democratic Self-Government League with 1,600 people mostly wealthy Taiwanese who now live on the mainland.
There is also the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) that was established in 1949 when the CCP legally made women equal to men for the first time in China’s history. I wrote about that in Women’s Rights in China.
Then there’s the China Youth League (founded in 1920 with more than 73 million members today) and other representatives from people’s organizations; representatives of the People’s Liberation Army; and representatives of minority ethnic groups that have a population of over 1 million each. (China.org)
Another segment of the population where the CCP recruits new members, are freshly minted millionaires and billionaires of China’s successful capitalists—after an exhaustive background check probably similar to the CIA or FBI.
Many from the political list mentioned earlier may not belong to the CCP or have voting rights, but they have a voice. Just as most western corporate business is conducted on a golf course, in China these nonvoting members may express themselves at meals and banquets with CCP voting members.
These non-voting members are sort of like lower management in a corporation who take advantage to express their opinions and suggestions, with no guarantee that the majority of the CCP will agree.
In fact, non-party members, who are of a like mind, may be noticed and possibly asked to join the party, which is an invitation few in China reject since it means joining the more than 80 million that rule the country.
The Journal of Current Chinese Affairs reports: “China’s emerging bipartisanship within the CCP, therefor, is not only a mechanism of power-sharing through checks and balances among competing political camps, but also entails a more dynamic and pluralistic decision-making process through which political leaders can represent various social and geographic constituencies.”
In addition, “the diverse demographic and political backgrounds of China’s new leaders can also be considered a positive development that may contribute to the Chinese-style inner-Party democracy.” (The Chinese Communist Party: Recruiting and Controlling the New Elites)
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. When you love a Chinese woman, you marry her family and culture too. This is the love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
His latest novel is the multiple-award winning Running with the Enemy.
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La plus ca change …