In late 2015, the South China Morning Post reported that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) had almost 88 million members, a figure greater than the population of Germany and 217 other countries. In fact, out of 233 countries listed by worldometers, only 15 had populations greater then the CCP’s membership.
The South China Morning Post report said, “Membership is coveted and can bring benefits in terms of connections in business and academia as well as the prestige associated with being part of the country’s ruling class.”
For a comparison to the United States, there are four major political parties that rule America: 46.6-million are registered Democrats, 33.5-million are Republicans, and 65.5 million are independents, that do not belong to any political party (because they are so disgusted with extremists and corruption).
The Libertarian Party has 411,250 members with 143 members holding elected offices in the U.S. but this party has more political power than its size because of support from the Koch brothers and several other American billionaires (click the link to learn how devious they are). The Green Party, the smallest of the four with 134 elected Greens across the U.S., has 250,000 registered voters.
How does a Chinese citizen become a member of the CCP?
One source for CCP members may come from the Communist Youth League of China that has 89-million members. China’s Youth League, although overseen by the CCP, is a separate organization. The two are not necessarily one and the same, and not all Youth League members go on to join the CCP.
The China Daily says, “It (the Youth League) is a school where a large number of people learn about socialism with Chinese characteristics and about communism through practice. It is the Party’s assistant and reserve force.”
However, “Many of today’s party members are culled from the top ranks of high schools and colleges: top students are invited to join the party, and it is the sort of invitation that can’t be refused. Others can be nominated by friends who are party members, or apply on their own initiative if they have the support of other party members. During the past two decades, the ranks of the party have been expanded to include businessmen (who were previously not allowed to join) as well as more ethnic minorities, who currently account for 7 per cent of party members.” – Beyond Bricks
There are also factions within the CCP—just like the United States—that have different political opinions and agendas that balance each other. Political theorists have identified two groups within the Communist Party, a structure that has been called “one party, two factions”. The first is the “elitist coalition” or Shanghai clique which is composed mainly of officials who have risen from the more prosperous provinces. The second is the populist coalition, the core of which are the tuanpai, or the Youth League faction which consists mainly of officials who have risen from the rural interior, through the Communist Youth League.
Within his “one party, two factions” model, Li Cheng has noted that one should avoid labeling these two groupings with simplistic ideological labels, and that these two groupings do not act in a zero-sum, winner take all fashion. Neither group has the ability or will to dominate the other completely.
Then there is a study from the China Quarterly that explains why we find so many of China’s wealthy as members/supporters of the CCP.
“This article presents original survey data from 1999 and 2005 to evaluate the Communist Party’s strategy towards the private sector. The CCP is increasingly integrating itself with the private sector both by co-opting entrepreneurs into the Party and encouraging current Party members to go into business. It has opened the political system to private entrepreneurs, but still screens which ones are allowed to play political roles. Because of their close personal and professional ties, and because of their shared interests in promoting economic growth, China’s capitalist and communist officials share similar viewpoints on a range of political, economic and social issues. Rather than promote democratic governance, China’s capitalists have a stake in preserving the political system that has allowed them to prosper, and they are among the Party’s most important bases of support.” — The China Quarterly, 192, December 2007, pp.827-854
In addition, the President of China, who is limited to two, five-year terms, does not hold total dictatorial power and cannot be labeled a dictator. In fact, Bloomberg reports that China’s president has far less power than the President of the U.S. For a better understanding of who holds power in China and how that power works, I suggest clicking the Bloomberg link in this paragraph.
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 unique love story Sir Robert Hart did not want the world to discover.
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