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A brief history of China's Communist Party as it celebrates 100 years

Ethnic minorities make up 7.5 per cent of members, slightly less than their share in China's population.
The Communist Party of China (CCP) was founded in 1921, holding its first Congress in Shanghai,(REUTERS)
Published on Jun 30, 2021 11:29 AM IST
Reuters | By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

China's ruling Communist Party will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding on July 1. In the build-up to it, President Xi Jinping and the party have exhorted its members and the nation to remember the early days of struggle in the hills of the inland city of Yan'an, where former president of the People's Republic of China Mao Zedong established himself as party leader in the 1930s.

Origin of Communist Party

The Communist Party of China (CCP) was founded in 1921, holding its first Congress in Shanghai, with the help of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, during a tough period after the nation had a decade earlier cast off 2,000 years of dynastic rule.

Mao's role in the finding of the party

At the initial Congress, Mao Zedong was the representative for Hunan province. He rose to become the commander of the Red Army in 1935 and became the founding leader of the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Members of the party

The CCP's ranks have risen roughly in line with China's population, totalling 95.2 million members as of this month or 6.7 per cent of the Chinese population.

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Initially founded as a party for peasants and workers, the CCP has become increasingly diverse. In 1982, it shifted its focus to recruiting university students and in 2002 began to welcome private entrepreneurs. Men dominate the party, with women making up only 28.8 per cent of members. All seven members of top party leadership are men.

The members from ethnic minorities

Ethnic minorities make up 7.5 per cent of members, slightly less than their share in China's population. Party members are required to be secular atheists, renouncing religions including Buddhism and Taoism, which have been present in Chinese society for centuries.

How does one join the party?

Chinese youth and students with good grades and behaviour are chosen by teachers to join the Young Pioneers, who don red neckerchiefs to set themselves apart and are given leadership roles to manage other students. The same process repeats in high school, where good students join the Youth League, the teenage wing of the party.

Application to join the party proper is a laborious process that typically begins in university and lasts two to three years. The process has several stages, ending in an oath-swearing in front of the party's hammer-and-sickle flag.

Membership cards

Members must pay dues set at 0.5 per cent to 2 per cent of their income. Under Xi, the party has encouraged party members to wear the party badge to show their affiliation.

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