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Record 89.56 million members but Communist Party of China is expanding at a slower rate

Of the 89.56 million members, only 13.31 million are less than 30 years old, an indication that a fast-greying population and other factors are impacting the growth of the Communist Party of China.

world Updated: Jul 03, 2018 23:02 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times, Beijing
Communist Party of China,China,Xi Jinping
Participants dressed in replica red army uniforms perform the "Yellow River Cantata" to celebrate the upcoming founding anniversary of Chinese Communist Party, in Yanan, Shaanxi province, China.(Reuters Photo)

The Communist Party of China added 117,000 new members in 2016, taking the total to a record of 89.56 million but its rate of expansion has continued to slow in recent years, new official data showed.

Such growth numbers would be great news for any other organisation but the Communist Party, which has been expanding at less than 1.5% since 2013.

Of the 89.56 million members, only 13.31 million are less than 30 years old, an indication that a fast-greying population and other factors are impacting the growth of the Communist Party.

More than 26% of the members are women, according to the new statistics released over the weekend as the party celebrated its 97th birthday last Sunday.

The slowing down of the Communist Party’s base has coincided with President Xi Jinping taking over as the party general secretary.

Before 2012, the party had been on an accelerated growth trajectory and peaked that year at 3.1%.

“Between 1990 and 2012, the year President Xi Jinping came to power, membership grew by an average of about 2.2 per cent a year, according to (official) figures. Since then, growth in new members has steadily declined,” Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

It is difficult to ascertain whether Xi’s massive and ongoing anti-corruption campaign is discouraging people from joining the party. The well-publicised campaign could, however, deter new members.

“To enhance the political building of the Party and keep the Party clean, Xi launched an unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, investigating more than 440 senior officials who held provincial-level positions or above, among others. Overall, more than 1.5 million officials have been punished,” said a report in state-run China Daily newspaper.

“If we had not offended hundreds of corrupt officials, we would have offended 1.3 billion Chinese people,” Xi was quoted as saying by the newspaper in an earlier speech.

The official media argued the slowing of the Communist Party’s growth is because recruitment is now focussed on quality,not quantity.

“Unlike his predecessors Hu Jintao and, especially, Jiang Zemin, who encouraged leading entrepreneurs to join the party in the aftermath of the crackdown of the June 4 protests in 1989, Xi pledged to control the size of the party and purge ‘unqualified members’,” Shanghai-based political scientist Chen ­Diaoyin told the Post.

First Published: Jul 03, 2018 16:47 IST